Greetings from the realm of the recently retired. I left the English classroom (but never WILLA), and had been convinced, these last three years, that there was nothing I missed about it. I had Arizona in the winter, Long Island in the summer -- the best of both worlds, climate-wise; I was able to visit grown children (and grandchildren) all over the country -- well, actually, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Houston (not too shabby choices); I could visit the best museums and see the best shows (New York City is only 40 minutes away); what was to miss?
I found out this April, when my former English chair asked me to take over for a teacher going on maternity leave. What has been the result? A positive one. Of course, the positive aspect could be attributed to a number of factors: It was May/June I was facing, not September/October, i.e., the term papers were finished, the major works were done, and the discipline had been established; (September/October, on the other hand, would have been the time of few smiles, writing assessments, and "let's see what we need"-- you know, the "you can always get nicer, but you can't get stricter" time of year).
What exactly was positive? The camaraderie of my old friends on the faculty -- I had missed that without realizing it. They told me that it seemed as if I had never left. We fell right back into the old jokes, old confidences, and old exchanges of materials. Biggest surprise of all was the enjoyment I got from the students. I had forgotten what fun they could be. (I should add that the teacher's program was rather a delight: four honors classes). Which, of course, leads me to the part I didn't miss: the paper work! It's still there. It still keeps me from wishing I was back permanently. I want my weekends back!
The entire experience has been good to great; but don't ask me back in September. I'll be visiting Minneapolis, traipsing to Manhattan, and sleeping later ... like 7:30!
National Council of Teachers of English (ISSN #1065-9080). Permission is given to copy any article provided credit is given and the copies are not intended for resale.
Reference Citation: Bloodgood, Pat. (1997). "Reflecting on Retirement." WILLA, Volume VI, p. 5.