We were actually scrambling for a topic today and then Renay announced she was leaving the pitch meeting to go to the retirement event for her district. And we all thought this was a crazy choice considering the end of the year is upon us and there were all sorts of things that we needed to accomplish as the blog channel for ParaEducate. So a few of us tagged along and we kind of had a moment out there with the honored retirees of the district.
So, this district takes up a hall and there are light snacks and beverages for all to enjoy. The event is combined between the Teacher’s Union and the union that represents the employees who are not teachers, which is separated from administrators who deal with employment, they are not eligible for union representation. Then the names of folks who were celebrating major milestones with the district were applauded, some were in the audience, many were not. The school board members were introduced and the superintendent spoke and stayed the whole night. This was an after work affair. Most of the district office attended, families of retirees were also there. Young grandchildren and adult children, and some former students all were in attendance in this hall. Though some left early, others stayed for the length of the event.
Coworkers would share a short tidbit about the coworker retiring. Some had a few, but some had many well-wishers on their next big adventure. And then the honored, would get up and have a few minutes to say something about their impending departure or where they were heading. Some said things of importance that they’d miss working with students, or they’d miss the questions that students would ask. But no matter what the job: secretary, teacher, paraeducator, or administrator, they all echoed that their core value was ‘for the students’. It wasn’t planned probably. But it resonated in the room with over a combined 100 years of professional years of experience. When teachers and staff are valued, they can make it through the lean times to support each other and provide that value to the community as a whole.
Another take away we held was the honesty the co-workers had for each other in this intimate forum. They all strove to be positive and laugh with each other. And that helped to bring the reminder that though our friends depart the memories stay with us. That it is only by forging bonds over a long time. That though results are expected quite quickly but the deeper professional connections are only made by years together in the trenches.
Which made us ask each other who we would want standing by our side when it is our turn to retire. And we looked around the names of the ones who had already left us for other choices and know that they’ll be with us. We know we’d name our families, but we’d want that teacher who helped us along the way if possible, the teacher who we inspired, and the student who found our methods useful. The parents who rode the waves with us while their student made no progress for years on end. The OT who helped us learn methods that were useful for helping a student get ready to be in class. The behaviorist who rescued us from a scary situation with a student. The general education teacher who knew when we had enough though we were trying very hard to help the student understand the material. The general education teacher who strived to get the test to us before the test was given. The secretary who knew we didn’t need another pack of sticky notes but had a student who needed to get out and away from class for a few minutes. The department chair who didn’t roll their eyes when we ordered another pack of markers.
The year isn’t over. It has a few more days left to build into memories and professional relationships. Cherish those last days. It is certainly someone’s final mile stone at the campus. Next year is “such a long way away”, but next year also means the campus will be different and that is another chapter in a career.
Just to be clear: we have no intention of retirement yet. There are moments, but we’re staying for the foreseeable future.
Speaking of retirements though:
ParaEducate signs off next week! Let us know what your favorite blog is from the 2017-2018 year.
Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.