It is strange how I can feel a chapter of my life ending as another begins. I'm feeling it a lot at school. End of year tests, looking around my classroom and deciding what to keep or toss or give away, the kids' files that require so many hours...all of these things fill my mind each day. And of course there are the day to day things like keeping the kids on task and not letting summer crazies set in quite yet.
Meanwhile, my district feels like it is coming apart at the seams. After several days of negotiations between our union and the district, they are still at an impasse on several issues. Every day the numbers change on how many teachers could possibly be let go. June 3rd is the cutoff date for the decisions. Teachers who have taught there 30 years say that they have never seen anything like this before. The tension is palpable.
RIFed teachers like myself are in limbo and waiting to see what happens with our jobs. Non-RIFed teachers are waiting to see what happens with other things. If jobs are lost, class sizes will increase. Teachers will get transferred. Everyone will suffer and the main goals--teaching the kids and getting their scores up--will be lost in the shuffle of all the politics and hard feelings.
I'm in an odd position. If this had been last year and my life and livelihood depended on that decision, I would probably be a basket case. But things are a little different for me because I'm leaving anyway. Right now I feel like I'm in my own category. I'm not retiring, I'm not staying, I'm just waiting to see how things play out so I know whether to apply for unemployment or not.
It is also interesting what this kind of situation does to the staff overall. The fighters rise to the surface, the passive ones carry on and react as things unfold. Then there are the optimists, the fatalists, and the apathetic ones.
One of our "fighters" mentioned the other day that too many of our teachers are passive. Perhaps an easy thing for a fighter to say. I thought about that. I don't really know what I am. I know I'm not a fighter. Going to meetings and rallies and passing out fliers gets me more worried and depressed about the situation. I'm not an optimist, because there are going to be layoffs. I'm not a fatalist because the number of layoffs seems to decrease slightly so there is slightly better news. And I don't think I'm apathetic because I do care about what happens to my colleagues and kids I've taught.
Again, it is an odd situation. I guess the most accurate term is that I'm a realist. I feel a little bit like a selfish realist, but it isn't out of lack of concern for what is happening, it is just that what is on the horizon for my own life is so huge and different and life-changing, that my poor brain can only process so much at a time. What is happening at school is only part of it.
SO...this is what life is like lately. Planning a wedding, planning a lifetime, planning a huge move to another state away from my family, leaving my job and colleagues, wondering what the future holds for my district, packing and leaving my house, and the day to day things like keeping my students in check and dealing with the many weeks of separation between time with my fiancee.
It's a lot. No wonder I need a lot of sleep these days.
Yet, despite it all, I still feel a lot of peace with all the life decisions I've made recently. I know there will be tears and some second-guessing, but I know it is for the best. Some changes are good, and I know that this is the good kind.
I just wish I had a crystal ball to see how everything will unfold. But what would be the fun in that, right?