Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.Dr. Seuss
During a recent coaching session, it became clear to me that even though I said ‘goodbye’ to my old teaching position (choosing not to return after my personal leave), there was still a lingering feeling in my body. And then it landed. While I had said ‘goodbye’ with my head (i.e. I left the classroom after a handful of panic attacks last fall), my heart still held a firm grip on my role as teacher. My connection to the school is deep. I had been, (and continue to be) a parent at the school for eight years prior to joining as a member of the faculty. The truth was obvious: six months later, I did not have the clean break from my role as teacher that I needed; the break that would allow me to return to the school community solely in the role of parent. This fundamental shift in my perception of community and my role(s) in it was, indeed, a powerful one. Action was needed.
But how could I resolve saying ‘goodbye’ with my heart? What does that mean? What does that even look like? Feel like? Sound like? I hadn’t completely grieved this loss in my life and its related aftereffects, but I understood what I needed to do: write a eulogy for the loss. [A special thanks to my coach, Breanna, for holding a safe space that allowed me to deepen this understanding and enrich my self-awareness.]. Below is the ‘eulogy’, ready to be witnessed publicly.
Dear Wildflower School:
Well…this is it, I guess. Time for me to move on; to expand my learning through other opportunities to serve learners in our district. Sure, I am sad. But, I’m not sure that I have many regrets that immediately stand out. I will miss the times of connecting with kids and parents as together we celebrate beautiful journeys of learning; I will miss the connections through our community potlucks and classroom gatherings. And in the end, it is all about community. Always.
I must offer an enormous THANK YOU to the most compassionate group of professionals I have had the privilege of working together. Firstly, to the Wildflower faculty; you are the most committed group of educators I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Your inspiration and creativity to make learning heart-centred and passion-led set me on fire. This opportunity has, without question, compelled me to think, act, feel, and show up in ways that either aligned with my personal values or forced me to reckon with them. That’s the greatest thing we can do for another person.
To the Educational Assistants, Custodians, and support staff: I always felt supported and recognized that you each served in the best interests of kids all of the time. You showed up day after day with the intention of helping kids to be seen and heard. To Anne, our amazing secretary and keeps-the-school-a-running person: your support through the past three and a half years has been so greatly appreciated.
A special thank you to Barbara, my friend, colleague, confidante, and mentor: you made the transition to Wildflower a little easier; you led by example on what it takes to be a compassionate and empathetic educator in that community; to lead with heart and be unabashedly fierce about it all; you taught me that we all are creative, but we need to exercise the courage to tap into it; and you continually reminded me to put our learners at the centre of everything we do.
And lastly, to the students: you kept me on my game, you showed up ready to learn alongside me; you brought your humour and authenticity; you brought your realness to the classroom. You asked deeply insightful questions and shared the anxieties and challenges of becoming a teenager. You took risks in your learning; you fell and go back up. I believe that the rich conversations within our daily class circles will be the learning lessons that you have taken away from our time together; they will be for me.
To the entire Wildflower community: I have left the role of teacher in our community but I will continue, as I have for nearly eleven years, to remain a supportive parent dedicated to further building our community of learners.
Jeff, the teacher, out.