Wrapping Up A Successful Semester

I've been back to retirement mode for about two weeks now.  Retirement has a way of luring one into thinking that there is always tomorrow that can be used for all the things that don't get done today.  With that being said, perhaps you will understand why I am just now posting some of the final activities that I had with my students from the international program at our local University.The semester literally seemed to fly by.  Here are some highlights for our time together since Spring Break:

  • We said good-bye to my dear friend Dixie who substituted for the regular instructor for Level Two students with a party and a presentation of the life maps we made in class.
Colorful Life Maps

Dixie surrounded by her students
  • We never pass up an opportunity for a photo op

Some of the girls

A couple of the guys
  • I gave an end of the semester brunch at my house
Our faithful volunteer tutors
Walter and Alda

We are so grateful for this couple who graciously have given so much time to the program for years.  We really appreciate them, their help, and their great personalities.

A fine young man 
Part of the joy of working in the program is getting to know youth from many countries.  I keenly feel a great responsibility toward these students whose parents give them the opportunity to study in another country when they are so young.  This student proved himself to be worthy of that trust by working very hard and making incredible progress.

Another fine student
I can't imagine what it must have been like for our Japanese student when he learned of the earthquake in his country this semester.  He was the picture of great perseverance as he continued to work hard while knowing that his country was in a time of great distress.  It was rewarding to see how the class came together with concern and support during the time of crisis in Japan.

Eating together

The light is not great in these photos, but you get to see the great time of friendship that we all enjoyed.

My guests brought flowers and other gifts
to grace the table
 I love the faces on these beautiful cats that were graciously given as a gift to the hostess.  Thank you so much for the gifts that you brought!
Two darling cats

  • We gathered one last time as a class the day before the final.  Everyone was nervous about taking the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) the next day.  We all were also very sad as some of us tearfully said good-bye to each other.  Those of us there, gathered for one last photo together.  Sadly, one important class member was not there that day.
My students and I
Spring Semester 2011
I don't know that I will ever be able to properly express how much I have appreciated the students I worked with this past semester.  They, all five of them, were some of the finest people I have ever met.  Working with them helped me to heal from the greatest loss of my life.  Two of the students were born the same year as my daughter.  For some reason, I found this especially healing to see them progress in the life goals they have set for themselves.  

Someone gave me this card a number of years ago.  I have kept it on my desk all these years.  Someone else gave me memento that says, "A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart."  At the center of teaching is heart.  As a teacher, I have learned it is the teacher's heart that is most moved, most touched, and most enlarged.  I have always loved being a teacher.  It is a profession that have given more than I have ever given it.  This year teaching truly helped to heal my broken heart.  

Some of our wonderful international students
Students gather in the International Office
to celebrate graduation

I've taught ESL (English as a Second Language) to high school students, middle school students, and elementary students.  Each group brings its own special joys and challenges.  Now, I am hooked on teaching college age international students.  It is special to go to the office and see so many nationalities speaking so many languages everyday.  The experience has broadened my heart, my world, and my circle of friends.  

Historic Ruling?

I am thrilled to have learned yesterday that a juvenile court judge in the State of Utah made a positive ruling in the case of a teenage boy who has lived in this country without proper papers since he was five years.  The ruling clears the way for the young man to gain legal resident status in the U.S.  You can read about this young man's situation by  clicking on this link.   The article was published in Standard-Examiner in Ogden, Utah this past weekend.   
This historic ruling is great news to all of us who work or have worked with this special population of students.  It is, in my opinion, the right decision that brings hope and justice to one kid.  One can only hope that the ruling is setting a positive precedent for the future.
My Personal Connections and Views on Working with Immigrant Children
As many of you know, I have worked for many years as teacher to those students for whom English is not the home language.  This area of the educational world has long been my passion.  I have worked with students who have come to this country with papers,  and with those who have come without papers.  I never knew for sure the legal status of my students, not did I care about their legal status.  In fact, as teacher in the public school system I was barred from inquiring about my students' legal status because of the Supreme Court Ruling Plyer vs. Doe 1982.  I am often shocked to find out how much misinformation there is out there in regard to the rights of immigrant students when it comes to public education.  Plyer vs. Doe clearly stated the rights of these students when it ruled:  "public schools were prohibited from denying immigrant students access to a public education. The Court stated that undocumented children have the same right to a free public education as U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Undocumented immigrant students are obligated, as are all other students, to attend school until they reach the age mandated by state law."
Now, the Dream Act is being addressed in the news.  The sad thing about working with students who may be undocumented is that they find themselves in a situation that they did not create.  They are brought to this country with or without proper papers through no fault of their own.  Many work hard in school, learn a new language, integrate into a new culture, and then are denied access to state institutions of higher learning as residents of the state in which they may have resided for years.  They are caught in some sort of legal and cultural limbo as they progress into adulthood.  

Those of us who work with this population come to deeply love and respect these students.  We see them vilified in the public sector through no fault of their own.  We see them subjected to racial profiling, and other forms of subtle and not so subtle forms of discrimination and prejudice.  Frankly, it is heartbreaking and discouraging to hear and read some of the prejudicial emails that circulate about this population of families that now live in our country.

I am all for legal means of coming to this country.  I am not in support of punishing the innocent victims who are undocumented because of the decisions of their parents.  To be honest with you, I have worked with gang members whose families have been in this country for generations.  I have also worked with immigrant families.  There is a wide divide between these two populations.  
I am personally thrilled to hear that one young undocumented student may have a more positive future because of the ruling of this juvenile court judge in Utah.  Congratulations to all concerned.

My World is Smaller and Much Wider Because I Teach and I Blog

I have been struck by how small our world has come.  We hear of disasters almost in real time because of the internet, and social networking.  I first read of the earthquake in Japan and the subsequent tsunami warnings as soon as I got up on Friday.  A dear friend and former colleague who now lives in her native Hawaii posted on Facebook that there was a tsunami warning in Hawaii.  Before I even knew why there was a tsunami, I was concerned for both my former teaching buddy and my blogging friend who both live in Hawaii.  When I say concerned, I mean, I really was worried.  They both are a part of my daily life these days, almost as if we were teaching in the same building or living on the same block, because of social networking.  I connect with them more than I connect with my next door neighbors!  I know more about them than I do about my next door neighbors.

So, once I heard about the tsunami warning, I immediately went to my Hawaiian blogger friend Kay's blog (click to link to her blog) to see if she was ok.  She is such a dear person.  I read her blog daily,  and, even though we have never really 'met,' I've really grown fond her and her husband and her mother.  Her mother, originally from Japan, lives with her.  They still have family in Japan.  Kay is always so kind in her words when she comments on my blog posts.  Yes, I think, it is amazing.  I am connected to people a great distance from me because of my blog, and I am genuinely concerned about their safety and well being.

I wasn't able to see a posting by Kay until later in the morning on Friday, March 1l.   While I was work at the University and on a break, I finally was able to read her most recent blog assuring us that they were safe.

Being able to read a blog on my iPhone also amazes me.  Technology has made my world not only bigger but also smaller.  It is bigger because I have access to people I never would have met otherwise.  It is smaller because the miles that separate us mean little in cyber land.

While I was reading about Kay's situation, I was still worried about the family of one of my student Junichi who is from Tokyo, Japan.  He had not yet come to class at 9:30 on Friday.  Junichi never misses class, and he usually the second to arrive in the morning.  We were all concerned.  Was he trying to reach his family?  Were they ok?  Had they suffered any kind of harm or damage?  Yes, because I teach international students, my world is smaller. After all the years that I have been teaching second language learners,  I am connected to students who come from many countries and speak many languages.

Sally with Junichi using iPhone to photograph cake
Woo Huck on far left
Finally, just before 10:00, Junichi arrives.  He is noticeably shaken, but he also seems greatly relieved.  He has been able to finally reach his mother by phone.  She had safely arrived home.  Her apartment was still standing.  He said that she had left her job at 5:00 in the evening on the day of the earthquake.  Public transportation was not working.  She had to walk for seven hours to get home, but she did it.  She made it home safely.

I can't even imagine what she saw on her long journey.  I can't even imagine the fear that must have gone through her mind.  I wonder if she worried how she would find her home once she reached it.  I keep thinking of this woman and wonder at her stamina and determination.  I feel privileged to be able to teach her son.  He works hard.  He studies hard.  He is a son for whom she can feel great pride.  I am grateful that his life has not been touched by the loss of his mother while he is in the United States.  I am sure he must be devastated as he sees the photos coming out of Japan.  He will need a great deal of support from others in the days and weeks ahead.

Just a few weeks ago, we in the International Program at CSU-Pueblo, were worried about our former student who was from Libya.  Several had tried to call him or email him to see how his family was doing in Libya.  That very afternoon after we had been discussing our worries about his family, I came home and saw an article about him and other Libyan students in the United States in The Denver Post.  In fact, I was very shocked when I saw our former student's picture posted in the newspaper.   (Photo from The Denver Post)

Yes, indeed, my world in smaller and much wider because I teach. It is also much enriched with friendships that span many countries and many languages.  My heart is open to the struggles that other nations and their people are going through.  I have worked with, taught,  grown to respect, and to care deeply about their youth.  My mind is broader, and my soul is enriched because I understand how connected we all are no matter what we believe or what languages we speak.

 I am grateful to be part of a profession that allows me to link my life to lives of so many who have come from all over the world.  It has been a blessing.  My life is much richer because my path has crossed the path of many students from many lands.  These students have touched my heart as we labor together in the classroom.  Their families are never far from their minds.  For that reason, their struggles, their heartbreaks, and the devastation that touches those they left behind at home touch my heart deeply.

Birthday Celebrations - Part I

As I approached my birthday this year, I found that I was experiencing conflicting emotions.  Last year's celebration had been so special.  Turning 65 had seemed like a milestone that deserved special recognition. Since I'd written about the celebration on my blog (linked) last year,  I decided to look back and see what I'd written.  The feelings of excitement that I felt that day all came flooding back.  I love entertaining, and my favorite group of ladies were all coming to my house to celebrate.  During the celebration, I received flowers from my son and my sister.  Now, looking at the photo from last year, I am again reminded that one of our dear classmates, seated in the center of the photo that I included in last year's post, lost her battle with cancer in the year since we all gathered at my house a year ago.

Birthday Lunch
Garden Room
Broadmoor Hotel
In the past year, my life has also been forever changed.  I am not the same lively, outgoing, cheery person who loved nothing more than being with my friends and family.  I have experienced that which I feared most, the loss of a child.  The shock, the pain, the sorrow, and the loss that I have suffered have greatly changed me and the way I see and experience the world around me.  I certainly no longer take anything or anyone for granted.  

I also know that life is to be celebrated, and on my birthday,  I chose to celebrate that I have survived the events of this past year.  At first, I could think of no way to celebrate.  Then, on Sunday morning last week, the day before my actual birthday which falls on the 28th of February, I suggested that my husband and I drive up to Colorado Springs for brunch at the Broadmoor. (See the link here.)  We couldn't get reservations for brunch.  (No surprise here because I know that the waiting list is always long.)  So, instead, we made reservations for a late lunch at my second favorite place to go at that dear old hotel:  The Garden Room.

We left a little early so we could walk around the Broadmoor Lake a few times.  I love this place.  So many wonderful memories of childhood and my years as a single mom are associated with the Broadmoor.  As a child, we learned to swim in the pool here, or we ice skated in the old ice arena.  The same arena where Peggy Fleming trained.

 During the 80's, when I was a single mom, I worked at Cheyenne Mountain School District which is located just a few blocks from the hotel.  Many times after work, or during my lunch hour, I would walk around this lake with friends.  Or we would go for lunches and special dates in the evenings at one of the great restaurants in the hotel.  
I've never been to the Broadmoor that I didn't feel like the time and the place was special.  It seemed like the perfect place to celebrate my birthday this year.

As we walked around the lake, I had my first bona fide sighting of a robin for the season.  It seemed fitting that I should be blessed with this sight on this day.  I had heard what I thought were robins singing when I awoke that morning.  Yes, my day was being blessed.  I recalled that last year, my first sighting had been the weekend after my birthday when I went for a run with Amy and Julie.  I teared up at the memory, but was also deeply touched by how much I needed to see that red-breasted signaler of spring.

Jim and Sally
Birthday at the Broadmoor
Lunch in the Garden Room was also just what I needed.  I love going to this special restaurant in February for Valentine's Day or my birthday because the setting of lush greenery always uplifts the spirit.  It is the perfect place for a short respite from winter. 

After lunch, we of course had to visit the shops.  I always hesitate to admire something in a gift shop when I am with my dear husband because the next thing I know, he is buying it for me.  My eye was caught by the most beautiful tea pot and cup and saucers to match.  I loved the rose pattern, and noticed that daffodils, my favorite flower and symbol for my life, was also featured on china.  I really did try to dissuade my generous husband from purchasing the two sets for me because I knew he had already ordered my birthday gift.  He bought it anyway, and I do love it!  Even the boxes the china came in, deserved to be on display in my favorite red hutch. Thanks again, Jim for this beautiful gift.

Jung Hee puts candles on cake
Thinking my celebrations for the year were over, I got up on Monday morning, my actual birthday, and grumbled about having to work on my birthday.  When it came time for our morning break, my dear, wonderful students surprised me with a party.  I couldn't believe it when Jung Hee pulled tulips in a vase out of a bag.  Soon, Shin pulled a cake out of her bag.  Then, she began to pour orange juice in to small plastic cups.  It looked like they were getting a great party together!

Shin lights candles
Sure enough, there was a wonderful cake, flowers, colorful napkins, fresh organic strawberries and oranges, and wonderful little chocolate cookies spread out before me on what was our classroom work table.  My students even produced candles for the cake and matches to light the candles.  Shin is quite the party planner!

Birthday Spread

Before we all ate the wonderful birthday food, we gathered for a group photo.
English Language Institute Students

Here I am surrounded by my five wonderful students.  They gave me permission to post this photo of them. I am blessed to work with these five international students this semester.  Each one is very special. They will never know how much this party meant to me.  The gratitude that I feel for being able to teach these students will never be forgotten. 

 As I teach them, I am reminded that life is greatly enriched when we are able to do what we love most.  For me that is teaching and being involved with young adult who are just beginning their journeys through life.  My passion has long been wound up in teaching English to speakers of other languages.  I admire my students' fortitude in coming to a foreign land to attend college.  I celebrate their growth as individuals as they risk learning a new language, a new culture, and meeting new people who do not share their language and culture.  I also marvel how human connections transcend language and culture and how love and respect grow when we all learn together.  

For so many reasons, my birthday was indeed special this year.  I've learned that even after unspeakable loss, life is beautiful, and it should be celebrated.  Thank you, dear students, for making my day so special.  Your kindness will never be forgotten.

Teaching/Learning Social Norms

The English as a second language (ESL) teacher, or the foreign language teacher, has the task of teaching culture as well as language.  Language and culture are intrinsically linked.  In order to understand the language of a new country, one must also begin to learn the culture.

 Many different languages, religions, cultural beliefs and cultural practices all come together in the English as a second language classroom.  The teacher sometimes feels as if she is working at the United Nations because these beliefs and practices can clash and cause problems if one is not vigilant and knowledgeable about cultural differences.  This keeps the ESL classroom teacher on her toes.  The day is never boring.

Yesterday, I was teaching a lesson about just a few cultural practices that may be different in the United States.  Early in the semester, we try to talk about being sensitive to differences.  We discussed some things that the students have seen or experienced in the United States that they might not experience in their home countries.

I taught the concept of social norms.  I talked about the fact that even in the United States, some people don't always understand our own social norms.  I told the students that sometimes teachers must establish social norms for the classroom.  They also must sometimes teach social norms for settings other than the classroom.  In other words, it seems that many students, even those born in the United States, don't know acceptable social norms.

Ok.  At least I explained to my students that Americans don't always get social norms.   We see people everywhere who just don't seem to know what acceptable social norms are.

#1 Nana at Benchmark60 sometimes has a special topic on Wednesdays where she recounts things she has observed that make her go "What the f###?"  She always makes me laugh when she posts her observations that make her ask this question, "What the f###?"

I thought of her and also about my lesson on social norms when I was at lunch today.  When I left work, I decided to go to Dillards for lunch.  Our Dillards has a wonderful cafe where my husband and I love to go for lunch.  They have delicious soups.  We usually see many of our friends there.  We go so often that the friendly and efficient wait staff know us.  It is always an enjoyable place to go for a quick and tasty lunch.

Today, I sat down ready to relax and enjoy a late lunch.  Soon, I heard a very loud male voice coming from behind me.  It sounded like it was coming from a television, or a radio.  Dillards does not have a television, nor do they play radio broadcasts.  The male voice was quite loud, but not loud enough for me to understand exactly what was being said.  I would hear the male voice talking, then I would hear a soft female voice.  I thought to myself, "Does someone actually have a cell phone on the speaker option while they are eating in a public place?"

Finally, I was sure that was what was happening.  I couldn't believe it.  Really, who would think that it was ok to put a cell phone on speaker in a restaurant?  Finally, I could stand it no longer.  It wasn't my classroom.  I wasn't responsible for teaching social norms at the restaurant at Dillards, but I am a teacher.  I have a hard time not acting like one sometimes.  I turned around and gave my best teacher look to the woman behind me who had her phone on speaker.  Then I turned back to my sandwich.  Immediately the place was quiet except for the quiet female voice.  I guess she got the message.  Maybe she even knew that social norms do not allow for one talking on a cell phone using the speaker phone option while one is in a restaurant.  Maybe all she needed was for a teacher to remind her.
Image by  www.free-stockphotos.com

Can't Say No

Last week, I taught the modal of ability.  Ok, I know you all aren't English majors.  Most of you wish to forget those long, boring grammar lessons anyway.  A modal was called a helping verb when I was in school.  Later, I think I learned they were called auxiliary verbs.  The grammar book we are using to teach English to international students call these helping, auxiliary verbs modals.  That works.  Teaching usage is more important than teaching terminology.  The concept that I taught was that when one wishes to use the correct word to express ability to do something, the person uses can, could, seems, or is able to along with the verb.  I can dance.  I could ride a bike when I was younger.  I can't say no.

Yes, it seems, I can't say no when it comes to accepting a job.  Guess what, neither can my husband.  Just days after I wrote in this blog how my husband said that he does not miss working, just days after he adamantly said he would say no if he were ever asked to work again, just days after I publicly stated how my husband said he felt, he was offered a job.  Guess what he said?  It wasn't no, nor was it hell no as he was fond of saying his answer would be.  His answer was, " I have to talk to Sally."

Sally came home from shopping not long after he got the call.  He was all smiles, very upbeat, and quite proud of himself.  He said he had to talk to me.  A lot had changed while I was gone.  He'd gotten a phone call.  He'd been asked to go back to work.  The smile would not leave his face.  I noticed a new bounce in his step.  He was thrilled and excited.  Yes, it seemed much had changed.  He wanted to go back to work.  He wanted a new challenge.  He wanted to be involved.  He wanted to see how a different district operated.  I saw the change in his demeanor.  I saw how energized the idea of working again made him appear.

My first question was, "Can you really do this again?"  (Note the use of the modal to express ability.)  He assured me he was.  His health was not a problem.  His blood pressure would be fine.  He would not over do.  He would not work too many hours.  He would eat right.  He would exercise.  He really did want to work again.  Forget what he had said before.

So, he said, yes to a return to work.  I supported it with just a bit of reservation.  He would have to drive, during the winter, to Fountain, Colorado which is about 30 minutes north of us.  He would be working as an assistant principal, a job he never had done before, so I knew that he would have the heavy load of being a principal.  I agreed that in many ways it would be good for him.

We talked about the possibility of me being asked to return to work.  I said, "I think I won't go back.  Since you are working, I need to stay home and keep things in order here.  I need to cook decent meals.  I need to be here to support you."

Then, I got the call.  "Will you come back to work?  We really need you.  Situations that have occurred here that have caused us to really need you.  We are shorthanded.  Will you consider helping us out?"  My answer, "I'll have to talk to Jim."  He asked what I wanted to do.  I didn't want to get up in the morning, I wanted to get projects done at home, I wanted to keep to an exercise plan, but I also really did want to go back to work.

We've both just finished our first week of work.  We were exhausted every night.  We fell asleep in our chairs in front of the warmly burning fireplace with an open book in our laps nearly every evening.  We woke up to an alarm.  I hired a house keeper.  Now, I really wish I could also hire a cook.

Last night, Friday night, we went out for Mexican food just like we always do.  Last night, at dinner, we debriefed.  Jim is meeting new people.  He is using his wisdom and expertise in new ways with new people.  He is learning new things.  I am energized and uplifted by the new students in my class.  I am using my knowledge and skills to help others learn English so that they can reach their lifetime goals.  I am surrounded by youth.  That keeps me young.  I have a reason to get up and pick out clothes to wear, fix my hair, and put on make-up.  I see my friends and colleagues at the University.  I am part of things at that wonderful institution again.

We are adjusting to working again.  We are happy with our decisions.  We have the ability to work.  We have the ability to say no.  We could have said no.  I shouldn't say, "We can't say no."  We could have.  We chose to say yes.  We are happy we did so.

Back in the Saddle

One of my Facebook friends, a friend from high school days, commented on my return to work by saying, "While being back in the saddle might still be enjoyable, getting back into it is sometimes more difficult!"  That statement is very true.  

I began my new job of teaching English to international students at the CSU-Pueblo on Monday.  Thankfully, Monday morning's alarm did not totally jar me because awaking early and to an alarm occurred on only the second day of our return to standard time.  My body thought that it was 7:00 a.m. rather than 6:00 a.m.  I actually got out of bed as soon as the alarm rang.  I then immediately took a shower.  This act alone signaled a big change.  I had showered, dressed, put on make-up and done my hair by 6:45.  Normally, if I had even gotten up before 7:00 a.m.,  I would still be in my p.j.'s, and would be just sipping my coffee, reading the newspaper, and watching the news on the Today Show.  

Proud of myself for remembering the routine for getting myself out of the door no later than 7:30 a.m., I proudly left the house on time after having eaten breakfast and reading a newspaper.  The campus where I am working is literally a five minute drive from my house.  I found that I was actually one of the few on campus at my early arrival time.  Ah, yes, I remembered, college students and retirees have something in common: they both get a late start in the morning.

By 8:00 a.m., I had arranged my teaching area, written my name and contact information on a large tablet on an easel located at the front of the room, and was greeting my new students as they arrived in the classroom.  I could tell they were as nervous and anxious as I about seeing how this new situation would fit.  They had just told one teacher good-bye, and now they had to break in a new one at the end of the semester.  They wanted me to introduce myself first.  I guess they wanted to see if my credentials were up to snuff.

I have five students who are in the beginning stages of learning academic English.  I have not yet asked if I can photograph them or write about them on my blog, so I will just say that I have three students from Asia, one from Africa, and one from South America.  The class is a wonderful mix of ages, abilities and personalities.  All are warm and welcoming.  Some are confident, others rather tenuous about using a language that still seems difficult to speak.  They have formed a rather tight knit bond of support, encouragement, and friendship.  Their respect and love for each other was much evident.  Their respect and support for me was refreshing and uplifting.  I had forgotten what it feels like to have a student make a slight bow when they greet me or speak to me.  I again felt humbled and honored to be shown the respect that foreign students give to a teacher.  I could not stop smiling.  I was so happy.  

It has been a rough five months.  After losing my 34 year old daughter to suicide in late May, I have gone through a long, hard journey of grief that I hoped would lead to healing.  I lost a large part of myself with her death.  Returning to my profession is helping me rediscover another part of myself that I treasure.  

 I have learned that grief can a times be a solitary journey.  I have striven toward finding an equal balance between spending time in solitude and in fellowship.  I think I have been mostly successful in not isolating myself, but I worried that winter would present a challenge when it came to keeping myself busy.  At just the right time, I was called and offered this job.  The timing was perfect.  I needed something to do, something to get me dressed and out the door everyday without putting a lot of pressure or stress on me.

Being back in the saddle felt just right.  I have not forgotten how to ride.  I can still teach gerunds, and vocabulary, and I can still understand early, fearful attempts at using a language that seems very scary to use when it is not your native language.  I am excited about the enrichment that teaching people from other cultures, languages, religions and belief systems always brings into my life.  I am meeting new friends, experiencing new adventures, and using the gift of teaching that God gave me.  I am continuing to heal.  I am moving on into the future.  I know Julie would be very proud of me.  I can almost feel her arm around my shoulder.  I am smiling a lot again.

Julie and Sally - Walk for The Cure 2008

Retired English teacher is going back to work.

Last Sunday, my husband confessed that he reads the "help wanted" ads every Sunday.  I asked, "Are you looking for a job?"  He answered with, "No, just an income."  We've both been retired for about three and half  years now if you don't count the times we've come out of retirement.  If you count those times, we've has been retired for about a year and a half.  He always says, "If they ask me to come back again, the answer is 'no'."  I, on the other hand, am always fantasizing about going back to work.  That is until I think about getting up every morning, getting myself fed, dressed, and out the door any sooner than 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning.  I also get real about my thinking of working again when I remember discipline at the high school level.  Then, there are all of those papers to grade.  That is enough to shock me into being very satisfied with retirement.

Substitute teaching has never been anything I really considered doing.  I did a lot of subbing when I was a stay at home mom.  I would take a sub job when someone at the neighborhood schools had an emergency. Now, after being out of the classroom for six or seven years, I just did not want to fill in on a temporary basis no matter how much I missed teaching, the kids, and the other teachers.

A few weeks ago, I got a phone call asking me if I would consider teaching ESL students in the international program at Colorado State University-Pueblo.  Since the job was quite temporary, just until the end of the semester, and since I would be helping out a friend who needed me to fill in after an unexpected vacancy, I said I would be glad to help out.  Two days later, I was again called and told that the teacher was not leaving after all.  I was ok with that.  Especially when I didn't have to get up early on Monday morning.

I was then asked by a former teacher friend to come and speak with one of her international students who was having some difficulties with his English class.  That was enough to hook me.  I went up on campus, visited with the student, and realized just how much I missed teaching ESL.

Me with some of my former students...
Yesterday, I decided to call the international program to see if they needed me to do anything for just a few days a week.  Before the director of the program could even call me back, the professor over the language institute called and asked me again if I could come and teach for them.  I jumped at the chance.

So, this retired English teacher is going back to work.  I will be teaching five students who, according to TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores, are at the intermediate level.  I will work half days, 8:00 to 12:00, Monday through Friday, starting next week.  The job ends at the end of the semester.  That is only three and a half weeks of school.  I can handle that.

Today, as I drove the few blocks to campus, parked the car, got out and walked to the offices of the international program, I found myself feeling very excited about and quite grateful for this new opportunity.  I love teaching ESL to students who are high school and college age.  I will be meeting some new students from different parts of the world.  I will be kept busy planning and teaching.  I will again be on the campus that I love for many reason.  And, I will get paid.  That seems like a bonus when I am really being able to resume my relationship with a passion that keeps me interested and inspired.