The funny thing is that earlier in the morning yesterday, a fellow teacher who was also not returning, while walking to her car to leave, said to me,"I feel sad now. Do you?" Maybe because I had not yet finished everything which I needed to do, I remarked back to her, "Not really." It did not hit me, however, until I had to turn in my keys and to give them to the teacher who was taking my classroom. The assistant principal to whom i gave my keys said, "I'm really going to miss you here." Suddenly, it felt final. When I was backing out of my parking spot, I realized that this would be the last time I would ever be at this school as a teacher there. That is when the sadness hit me.
On the one hand, I am rather glad to be finished with it all, because since I had made it public to my faculty in March that I was transferring schools, it has been a never-ending, two-month long goodbye for me. The last couple weeks, I had grown so weary of saying my farewells that by the last few days, I just wanted to hide from folks.
But at the same time, I had been a teacher at this school for 17 years (most of my students this year had not even born when I began teaching there). How can I not be sad over my departure? Over those 17 years, I laid down so many roots and established so many great relationships with both my fellow faculty members and students. If anything, I was a great team player. As so many teachers told me upon learning that I was leaving, "This school will not be the same without you. You've always just been here. You are a part of the school culture." Those are certainly nice words to hear.
Most importantly, I had garnered the respect of my fellow teachers and administrators. Especially in my department where we all did not see eye to eye pedagogically, even though many disagreed with me, I still felt like I had earned their respect. Quite honestly, I would much rather be respected than to be viewed as right.
For now, I feel like I am in a limbo state, because I do not feel like I have a sense of belonging jobwise anywhere at the moment. I have said my goodbyes and have ended my stay at my previous school, but I have not officially started yet at my new school. It is a weird feeling.
However, as one of my mentors wisely once told me years ago when I told him that I was feeling homesick after having visited my family in California (and I was mad at myself for feeling this way), "It sounds like you're grieving. It is okay to mourn the situation." What he said suddenly knocked sense into me; immediately after he said that, I felt so much better, because
- what I was feeling suddenly had a name.
- it was perfectly okay to feel what I was feeling
- more importantly, grieving allows us as humans to deal with and to process our grief, and to come out the other end with a sense of joy (think of Sadness' role in Inside Out).