Looking back to move forward…


I actually had to get out a pen and subtract, the year I started, the year it is, to make sure it has actually been that many years…First thought, I’ve always hated subtraction with a zero in it. Second thought…REALLY? It feels like a nanosecond, my career.  It is time to look behind me a minute to see how I have arrived here, 4 months away from leaving the day-to-day classroom work that has literally filled almost every crevice of my brain for the last thirty-eight years.

I finished college in three short years, where I learned that I loved to learn and that research and writing was something that I actually enjoyed.  I started when I was only a 20-year-old with a class that was only eight years younger than I was.  They quickly noticed that.  I did not work with a team of teachers that even liked each other in a giant room called an ‘open space’.  The library was in the middle of this room.

My friend the librarian came up to me one day and secretly told me that the principal was taping me every day, to see if my classroom’s noise level was under control.  Guess what, it wasn’t!  But every time he put the tape on, she gave the signal and I would try my hardest to rein in their voices. I felt like I was living in Watergate (some of you don’t even know about the Nixon years).   In those days teacher wisdom, or best practice was not to  ‘smile until Christmas’.  That must have been where I went wrong because I remember literally crying in front of my entire class teaching a math lesson before Easter.  However,  if you can believe this, math became one of my favorite subjects to teach because, I totally understood those who didn’t get how to subtract with zeros.

Somehow, I made it through that year only with the help of my mom  who still gave me hugs, fed me, tucked me in at night and a husband to be that planned our entire wedding without me.  It is interesting that fact has never changed about us…Dave still plans everything; because I’m still planning for school or finding a new book or writing the next post or planning for school or the next inservice or the next university class.  God Bless my mom, God Bless my Dave.

This is just my first installment…my second… How I Survived and Stayed.

PS Today we were off to pick the granite for our new kitchen.  I got the exact kitchen I wanted if I agreed to the remodel and learning how to cook 🙂  Dave was driving and I was going on and on about just why I wasn’t so satisfied my part of the Friday inservice…and how I just don’t exactly feel ready to be done with all this.  We were out-of-town and close to the school that I got started in.  I begged him to drive by it, just so I could look.  Dave said, “Maybe…if you promise not to keep talking about school the rest of the weekend.”  “I will try, I muttered.”

PSS We picked our slabs of UBBA TUBA granite.  I just love the sound of those words!  I got my wish.  Today I will try my hardest to keep my side of the bargain.

This is where it began in 1976  G. Stanley Hall School…Oh, how I came to love this school !  It looks like the open space needs a few more bushes and some awesome trees to dress it up a bit. GSH


About Nanc

lifelong teacher who is semi-retired (does this sound better?) who loves God, family and laughing... who hates social injustice... who wants to write every day... who needs to exercise every day... who blog hops... who wants to live her everyday life led by her savior, Jesus Christ!

18 responses »

  1. I know that feeling of how quickly time goes once you decide to retire. While teaching, retirement is so far off, but truly it isn’t. Wow! 38 years, what an achievement! You will find something to fill your life and begin a second adventure. BTW, you will love the granite counter top, best decision ever (in kitchen remodeling).

  2. Boy do I understand. I just retired last June after 40 years. I honestly don’t know where that time went. It sure didn’t seem that long. I think what struck me the most was finishing a unit and then realizing that I would never teach it again. Now I don’t know where I ever found the time to work.

  3. I can’t imagine how you must feel. Bittersweet? Mostly sweet? I love your story about your first year of teaching…. my how times have changed, huh? I’ve only been teaching 13 years, but I will never, ever forget that first year.

    On a completely random side note – I think we have Ubba Tuba in our kitchen!! I swear I remember that name. Is it black-ish?

  4. I retired from the classroom last June, and although it has been bittersweet, I am enjoying putting more time into the things I love – working with teachers, writing, planning conferences. But tomorrow I’m going into school to read with kids and help with conferences. Can’t wait!

  5. Thank you for letting me wander with you back to the beginning of your career! I am glad Dave let you go past your first school to take that picture. Maybe I should go back to my first school and do the same. I am in my 33rd year and it sure does zip by. However, there still are a few school days that seem NEVER to end! Ha…

  6. Oh, the memories you have to ponder – 38 years – congrats. You have been and continue to be a inspiration to other teachers and to your students. Thank you for your dedication. Loved that your hubby planned your wedding. Looking forward to your next installment.

  7. WOW. This is my third year teaching, but it is my second or third career. It is the first time that I have felt my person, my energy, my mind, and my conviction are all in alignment. I can see that 10 years will be a snap of the fingers, but that my body will be worn by the time I get there. Thank you for all you have done all these years; the fact that you are still reflecting, planning, heck you can’t even go by that first school without wishing to jazz it up a bit…and god bless our good men who make it possible. People who don’t teach have no idea. You are a GOOD person.

  8. It’s amazing how the time goes by — but what is even more amazing? Think of all the students and teachers you have reached through your hard work, dedication, and talking about with Dave! That is awesome! Enjoy the time now. Be there in the present. And life will move forward.

  9. Wonderful to have been taken along today on your journey Nancy. What gifts I imagine you have given to all the students and to your colleagues too. This has an underlying nostalgia, especially going back to take a pic of your first school-those were the days! In my first year I had a parent throw a book at me! He didn’t like what I was sharing about his daughter’s behavior, and probably I didn’t do it very well. I’m glad you have your Dave to give you the back up you need. I remember having friends over and making everyone cut out things before we could start playing cards. Teachers don’t stop! Best of wishes for a marvelous last few months!

  10. My high school had one of those open classroom designs with the library in the middle. I honestly don’t remember being distracted by the classes around me. As a new teacher, thought, I would have been very self-conscious about being on display. Can’t wait to hear about how you survived. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I was so with you as I read this post, Nanc. I remember the early days and wonder how it all came as went in a flash. Loved my classroom and love now sitting in the kitchen on a cold Wednesday morning catching up on Slices and considering a swim in a few hours, when the roads are in use.
    And I agree with Elsie. You will love your granite countertops.

  12. This gives me thought to start writing down my beginning teaching. I can’t believe this is my fortieth year! I am teaching until I am 65. How fun to get a new kitchen.

  13. Nanc– So right there with you! I feel like I started teaching yesterday, but at least once every day, one of the baby teachers I coach says, “You’re just like my mom,” or one of my kindergarten cherubs calls me Grandma and I wonder how the years went so fast.This is, I think, my 29th year of teaching (I took four years off to get my Ph.D). And I did my student teaching with a group of 28 very noisy first graders in one of those open space schools- YIKES! Can’t wait to hear more! P.S. I am NOT learning to cook when I retire!

  14. Pingback: Part 2 How I survived and stayed… | Two years and finishing strong...

  15. I can tell that teaching is in your heart and soul, and so I predict that even when you are not daily in a classroom, you will still live that teaching life. It is so good to read your reflections. Funny how we remember so many intricate details of those very first years! And a new kitchen sounds delightful, even if you have to cook in it!

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