This week has been a bittersweet one for me. After three years of being referred to as “Ms. Lindberg” rather than my first name, I have cleaned out my classroom. Little remains besides the empty bulletin boards and the neat stack of final exam papers my students will fill out tomorrow morning.
As soon as I run their answer sheets through the Scantron machine and record their grades, I will shut the door to my classroom, hand in my keys, and drive away.
As of tomorrow, I am no longer a high school English teacher.
It’s quite amazing to muse on how much of my identity has been found in the classroom over the past few years. Leaving teaching is almost like going through a breakup after a long-term relationship or graduating. After all, I talk about “my kids” more than anything else.
So why leave now?
Well, life happens.
I attended countless seminars from a slew of education professors during my days at Winthrop University, but one lecture from Dr. Vawter stands out in my mind as being particularly relevant to my current state. He likened a teacher to a car, with the tires representing vital components of one’s personal life, such as health and family, that keep the teacher rolling.
When the tires are pumped up and the teacher has taken care of herself, the whole vehicle keeps moving. In contrast, when the tires are low and the teacher is not finding balance, she is in danger of crashing.
A quality teacher is not just “on” from 8:00-3:30 each day. Over the past three years, I found myself so invested in my kids’ lives that I thought about them from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. I loved my time with them and found pleasure in watching them learn and grow each day, even if some of them did roll their eyes at my weirdness every now and then or complain about the amount of work I gave out. It was more than just a job; it was my life, in a lot of ways.
I wouldn’t have had it any other way, but right now my focus needs to be at home.
Those of you who know me well know that my immediate family has been through a lot over the past few years, but we have been hit especially hard this past year. While some may feel it’s insane or irresponsible to resign from teaching at one of the best schools in the state at such a young age, I’m leaving the classroom for at least a year to metaphorically pump some air back into my tires and focus on my life outside of the classroom for a while.
While it was a hard decision to make, I feel at peace with my choice. I’ve been really blessed with a supportive principal who not only understood where I was coming from when I went to him about my decision but encouraged me to do what I need to do personally and put my family first. That speaks a lot for his character and that of FMHS.
To my (now former) students, it’s been a pleasure. And yes, it’s still “Ms. Lindberg” to you. ;)