As I was nearing the final hours of my doctoral degree, I knew I needed to have more time to work on the dissertqation. Grabbing a few hours here and there would mean delaying the degree more. I asked my building principal if I coud arrange for a half time position. I offered to teach 4 of the 7 class periods during the day and even said I would do bus and lunch and hall duties regularly. I thought if I taught half of the day, I could use the other half for writing. Unfortunately, my principal could not make that happen (though now it is almost commonplace), so I tendered my resignation. I hated to leave the classroom, but I know there are lots of ABD (all but dissertation) folks out there. I wanted to finish.
I took a part time position for the summer at SHSU teaaching children's literature to the undergraduate students in teacher education. I applied for a full time position they had open. I did not get the position, so I took a half time position at the University of Houston teaching reading classes. Before the semester could get underway, SHSU called and offered me a temporary position since the person who had been offered the full time job had decided not to come after all (I am eternally grateful for this). So, I had a temporary job teaaching literature at SHSU.
I am, as a friend's husband notes, "relentless," and I campaigned for the job. I was hired as an Instructor until I could complete the dissertation. That was more than 26 years ago. Now I look back still and shake my head in wonder. I love my job. I love my colleagues.
Do I miss the kids? I do. For at least 10 years, I went into classrooms and libraries and spoke to thousands of kids each year about books and reading. My undergrad classes mentored middle school kids in person and on line. And I astill had FTF classes with students daily and then weekly.
Now that we are online, I feel the void more. I miss seeing students FTF regularly. There is a sort of energy boost I still get from them. I love seeing ideas take shapes. I love watching new learning emerge. But this job affords me so many other opportunities. Here I am in NYC for the next 3 days at the USBBY conference (well, I was when I scheduled this post. Now I am back home for 1 whole day before heading off to another PD in Pasadena, TX). I will have the chance to share ideas with colleagues from across the country. I have the chance to serve on more committees, to offer PD outside of Texas (and even the country sometimes). My schedule is more flexible.
I admire and appreciate those who work with kids still. But I think I can have more impact working with preservice and inservice teachers and school librarians at this point. As I near retirement, I think about all those in the claqssrooms at all levels who are impacting kids and teaching and books and reading. It makes me happy knowing the future looks bright.