When I walked out the big blue doors of the elementary school where I taught 4th and 2nd grades for about 5 years to begin my maternity leave, I did so with joy. More than joy. Exuberance. Relief. Ecstatic celebration. And while, for the sake of my contract, I left the door open for my return 2 years later, I leapt so far ahead of it hitting me on the way out, I knew there was no way I was going back.
Don’t get me wrong. I liked my students. I loved planning units and curriculum. I thrilled in leading projects to do with the kids. But I couldn’t wait to break away from the politics in teaching. And, for the sake of keeping on subject, I’ll leave the nasty details out of this post. (Though they’re itching to come out, so loyal readers… stay tuned.)
Reading Phillip Done’s Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind wasn’t easy for me. Because while the book is full of cutesy, lovey, laughy moments in teacherhood, I can’t recall any of them in my teacherhood. Sure, I identified with a lot of Done’s stories, but I didn’t have the ability to enjoy those moments and tuck them into my back pocket where I’d bring them out again later and enjoy the memories. Again, the politics.
However what I do still have with me is Teacher Mode. And just like Mr. Done went into Teacher Mode when he traveled to Paris by helping kids see from the top of the Eifel Tower and tying shoelaces, I find myself going into Teacher Mode. Often. Maybe too often. (editors note: upon proofreading this line aloud, I actually just sighed.)
At the most random of times I’ll create entire units in my head. I’ll pick up brochures for future class trips, and plan themes around a bedtime book I read with one of the kids. Sitting in my car the other day I found myself thinking of a great way to use my Garmin to teach my fourth graders Place. I spend hours in Barnes & Noble, not just perusing the books, but helping other customers in the children’s section. Yes. I’ve been offered a job there. No less than three times.
It seems that, whether I dream to go back to teaching or not (and not is definitely the feeling when I wake up with nightmares), the teaching won’t go away from me.
This post is inspired by the book Close Encournters of the Third-Grade Kind by Phillip Done. The book was the November selection for the SV Moms Group Blog’s Book Club, of which I am a member. As a member of the club the book was provided for me to read.
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