Retired English Teacher Is Going To Work

Once the Christmas decorations were down and put away, I looked at the winter months spreading before me and wondered just how I would get through those long days when my hubby was off to work.  Oh, I had plenty to do.  The desk is covered with family papers, old letters,  and photos needing to be sorted, filed, and archived.  I promised myself I would get that done after the first of the year.

I'd begun going through closets and cupboards sorting and tossing while I put away Christmas, but I still had much more of that type of sorting and tossing to do.  

Books are stacked waiting to be read during the winter months.  

Writing a personal history was also on my to do list.

I had my ladies groups at church to look forward to.  And, there is my writing group that needs to get going again.  All of that would also take up much of my time.  Not to mention that I could always go to lunch with my girlfriends.  Yes, I had all of that going on, and I so enjoy these activities.

I'd started a workout plan on our new elliptical machine.  I hoped to make sure I also got the club to do water aerobics at least twice a week.  There were Zumba classes being offered, and those low impact aerobics class also.

I promised myself that I would start cooking more at home and planning healthier meals.  I have been pretty consistent in doing that since the beginning of December.  

Yes, I had plenty to do while Jim was working.

Yet, I could not shake the desire to go back to work, so there was this job, and I applied for it.  As I told one of my girlfriends, I hate filling out the application process on-line, so one day, I sat myself down and completed the process anyway, partly as a practice of discipline.  

I had another year and a half left on a teaching license that I had renewed and never used since I had renewed it.  It took some doing just to renew that license on-line.  I'd had to reconstruct all the professional development I had done, prove I had done it, and submit all the papers to get the renewal.  It seemed so much easier when we just found our papers and submitted them to the Colorado Department of Education.  Now, it all had to be done electronically.  My husband, and many of my friends thought I was crazy for doing it.  "Why do you want to renew again?"  In my heart, I just wasn't ready to let that hard won certificate expire, so I renewed it.  After all of that, I had never used the renewed certificate to teach again.

Mostly, I have just been missing working in the profession I loved so much.  I missed the mental and intellectual challenge that teaching brings.  I missed the contact with students.  I missed working with other teachers. I wanted and needed the feeling that my days had a purpose that met the passion I have always had for teaching.

A phone call came.  An interview was granted.  I was greatly impressed by the principals I met.  I loved the school.  I was excited about the possibilities.  The next day, a job was offered.  I took it.

Today, I signed a contract to teach again.  I will begin my new job on January 24.  I will be teaching ELL (English Language Learners, or English as A Second Language.  I will go between three elementary schools and one middle school in School District 11.  I am quite happy about it all.  

Tonight we went to dinner to celebrate that I had signed a contract to teach through the end of the school year.  As Jim signed the check, I mentioned to the waiter that we had just eaten a celebratory dinner.  Soon, very unexpectedly, the waiter reappeared with a dessert to help me celebrate my new adventure.  He said,  
"Thank you for being a teacher."  

After I signed my paperwork today, I was quite humbled to think that I can again become a part of a profession that has given me so much more than I ever gave it.  I'm grateful to have the health and the desire to go back and work with young people again.  I'm looking forward to mentoring and working with the aides whom work with the ELL population in the schools where I will be working.  

Many years ago, a fellow worker in the school where I worked said to me, "I could never give up working as an elementary school secretary, because I'm hooked on the smiles I get each day."  I understand that.  I love seeing the light come on and the excitement that a child expresses when he or she finally understands and can speak a language that is new to them.  I can't wait to get back to working with my dear ELL students.  

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.

Keeping Up

Since I've gone back to work, I've had a very hard time keeping up with life.  I only work four hours a day, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.  You would not think that would cause a problem for me and my schedule.  Of course, because I am teaching, I always seem to have to an an hour or two to add on to those four hours in order to get the grading and planning done.  I love being back to work, but I wonder how I ever was able to even sort of manage getting everything done when I worked full-time.

If you are retired, do you ever wonder how you managed to keep up the other demands of living while you were working?  When I reflect on the schedule that my husband and I kept when I worked full-time teaching high school English while he worked a sixty plus hour a week job as a high school principal,  I truly wonder what super powers we once possessed to maintain our lives and sanity during those busy years.  And yet, when we reminisce about those bygone days, we only remember that life was good - very good.

During the 12 years that my husband was principal, we never went fishing.  We did not own a lawn mower.  We always went to bed right after the 10:00 news.  We seldom ate lunch or dinner at home.  We went out to eat nearly every night.  The house was faithfully vacuumed by my husband once a week, and I usually moped the kitchen floor once a week.  I dusted the furniture when we had guests, or when I really was ashamed of how much dust had collected on every surface. Since our children and grandchildren lived in other states and towns, we seldom even saw them.   Mostly, our lives were consumed by high school events and activities.

Last school year, was the first year that both of us did not work at all.  We were fully retired.  For the three years previous to that year, we both took semester jobs one time or another.  One semester after I retired, I taught elementary ESL in Colorado Springs.  This meant that I had two 40 minute commutes each day.  It also meant that I was was teaching in an area where I had never taught before:  elementary school.  I loved the job and hated to see it end, but I really did not want to continue the commute.  It had been a good experience.  I learned new things and met new people.  I also kept my insurance premiums from hitting my own personal pocket by working those six more months.

The next year, my husband was asked to return to work for a semester gig as a middle school principal.  An unplanned change was made in administration at a local middle school at Thanksgiving of that year.  My husband was asked to come in and get things back in line.  He stepped out of his comfort zone in this job, just as I did when I taught elementary school.  He had not worked at the middle school level since the late '60's.  Right away, he was working at least 10 hours again, and seemed to love every minute of it.

That same school year, I was asked to teach reading at an elementary school from February until the end of May.  Since I had lost my retirement partner, I decided to help the school out by taking the job.

Then, we learned to say, "no."  For one entire school year, neither of us worked.  A little over a month ago,  I was called and asked to come and teach English to international students as the University near our house.  I started working only three weeks ago.  I had one week off for Thanksgiving Vacation.  I worked this week.  I have one more week to go before the end of the semester.  Already, I am saying, "I can't wait to be done with school."  I have so much to do.  I am behind on laundry.  I am behind on cleaning the house.  I need to go grocery shopping.  I have not been exercising.  I can't keep up with my blog...

Christmas is just around the corner.  I have the house to decorate.  I have shopping to do.  I have cards to write.  I would like to do some baking (I think!).  All of this seems to be too much when I think of the housework that is piling up.

Now, I remember why I retired.  I loved my profession when I left it.  I still do.  I love working, but I really like not having the stress that comes from having to keep up with the other matters of life while one is working.

The semester is nearly over.  My short venture back into the working world of the classroom has benefited me in many ways, but I have not enjoyed feeling like I can not keep up.  One blogger friend calls her blog "A Slower Pace."  That is where I am in life.  I like keeping a slower pace, or perhaps I just like being the one who sets the pace rather than being restricted by a work schedule.  Self knowledge is always a good thing to have.

One last thing - Please check out my son's blog.  He has a very interesting post recounting his experience as a rickshaw drive for a day in Bangladesh.   When I think of how others in the world must make a living, I am quite ashamed of complaining about not being able to keep up with my life that is filled with so many luxuries.