I am here...although I don't know if I have arrived. Some days I feel stranded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, other days I marvel at the paradise that I call my life. Welcome to my ramblings, reflections, and obsessive- compulsive tendencies

Friday, June 12, 2009

...about graduating

i graduated from the institute of child study this week. sure, the ceremony was for the twelve-year olds who were finishing their grade six year, but coming back to be part of this day was as much for my own closure as it was to support the students that meant so much to me.

in september, 2005, i made a move from an outstanding independent school in the west end of toronto to a place that i had barely heard of. sure, it was associated with the university of toronto, but it was a well-kept secret as far as i was concerned. still, this school that was doing research, teacher education and had a supportive attitude towards innovative ideas in teaching peaked my interest. i left a school that where i enjoyed tremendous growth as an educator (along with all of my planning time!) and moved to teach grade 5/6 at "ics". the school was in an old toronto mansion and my classroom was the converted living room that had incredible windows along two walls letting in unbelievable natural light. there was a fireplace and a mantle that made a unique space to display student work, and gorgeous bookshelves for the class library that i was so proud of. the staff consisted of type 'a' personalities, all looking to do as much as they could for their students, anxious to talk about big ideas in education. the parents were involved and interested, choosing a school that they knew wasn't doing mainstream kind of things in the classrooms. and, as has been the case with each school i have had the pleasure to be part of, the students were the best part of the place. they were excited about ideas, enjoyed laughing and playing, and weren't in a rush to grow up. they made plans to change the world into a place that they could be proud of, and had imagination and creativity that left me in awe each and every day. i watched four classes graduate from ics and am proufoundly changed because of the students that i was so lucky to work with each year.

it was a veritable hive of activity. tons of ideas, tons of possibilities, not too much money, and in a school that said they believed in "slow-schooling", nothing about working there seemed slow in the least. i was able to try different approaches in my classroom, communicate my beliefs about education to beginning teachers in their master's classes, present at conferences and work alongside some incredible interns who were just beginning their careers. meanwhile, in those four years, my oldest son began school and my youngest son was born. it was four very memorable years.

i left in december. my husband would probably agree that i left kicking and screaming. i usually don't do well with change and leaving my students when the school year wasn't complete was like cutting off my right arm. i could hardly bear the thought of putting my twenty-two young students through a transition that was completely because of choices that i was making. but an opportunity arose that would mean a move to a life where our priorities were completely on our family life with our boys. moving to bermuda with jim as head of a school there meant that he wouldn't be on a flight every other week (or a few times a week in some crazy times of the year), and we could spend evenings and weekends enjoying the company of each other. it was an opportunity that we coudn't pass up.

this week i know that we made the right choice. i loved watching my students graduate. i cried when george read his poem and spoke of moving along a path that he knows he must go. i was right there with him when he said that it was sad to say goodbye, but that was the road that he must follow. i was overwhelmed with emotion when benjamin sang his song about making change in the world and my heart ached when anne told me in her own unique way how much she missed me when i left. i spent the evening chatting with lovely parents who were eager to hear about the direction that my life had taken. i found myself saying again and again how different the pace is for me because of this move. i am no longer scrambling to do and be everything to everyone. i stop and chat with people in line at the grocery store. i play in the sand and the waves without thoughts of looking at my watch. i walk my son to and from school and bake homemade bread and muffins and cookies. i watch my darling boys sleep. i lean against my husband every evening as we sit together on the couch and enjoy our few "adult hours" together. we are all calmer, more focused and happier and we know what is most important for us.

i thought i liked a fast pace. i knew i liked teaching. i know that now that i have "graduated" from the toronto life that i was living, i am in a better emotional space. i needed to obtain a healthier balance in my life. i will return to teaching in september, something i am immensely excited about. i can't wait for the new challenges, the new colleages, and the paycheck! i also love that the rest of my little family will be enjoying their own experiences in the very same school. still, i will try to maintian that balance, and that slower, more enjoyable pace. i suppose graduation can be an anxious time for some people; a journey into the unknown. i'm so thankful that i was nudged into that unknown. it is going to be an incredible adventure.

1 comment:

Jim Christopher said...

If life is about closing one door and opening another, then you have done it magnificently. I loved reading this piece about closure and graduating and about valuing one experience while excitedly embracing the next one. I am glad that this trip has been a positive step along your life's journey and I am so happy to be here to share it with you.