Today may be the “first day of the rest of my life,” but it’s also the last day of a delightful and delicious six months off from school. I never take for granted school’s generosity in allowing me to craft the job around my other professional needs and desires. Having set up a job share with my colleagues way back in 2000, I’ve had anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months off each of 18 years to travel and teach, write books and generally follow my bliss. That’s a large part of what has kept me fresh and enthusiastic in my 44th year of teaching at school.
Of course, school is always with me. Even in this Fall off, I went in once a week to sing with the preschoolers, subbed for a week while Sofia was in Salzburg and came in often in December to take over classes that allowed Sofia and James to have more time for the Holiday Plays. I even went to a Staff Meeting or two!
The rest of what I did is well-chronicled in these Blogposts—travels and teaching around the U.S., time with the grandkids, a performance or two with my jazz band, some bike riding and much sitting—on my meditation cushion, on the piano bench and in my chair trying to get two books ready for publication this Summer. The one I’m hoping to co-write with Sofia and James is awaiting their contributions, the one I’m writing myself is edging closer to a final draft. Some of today will be spent planning my week’s classes, some trying to knock off yet one more almost-complete chapter. Of course, I’m a little disgruntled that in the midst of a driving rhythm, I could use another week off. But if I was in tomato-throwing range of other teachers, I’d be splattered in red right now!
And so tomorrow it’s back to marching to the beat of another drummer’s schedule, stepping out of the idealized general love for children I’m writing about back into the messy fray of their actual personalities and energy and issues, returning to meetings and decisions others can make that impact my life. School is mostly still a happy place for me and for the children and parents and other teachers and that’s the good news. But I can feel the end of my time there drawing near. When it does, don’t think I’ll call myself retired, but when asked what I do, would answer “I’m a teacher.” When asked where I teach, I would answer “Wherever I’m invited.” Maybe I’ll call myself “a free-range teacher.”
A fond farewell to these most marvelous six months and turn to the first day of the rest of my teaching life at The San Francisco School and beyond. After I edit Chapter 6.