This was a great assignment! We were told we had to write it second hand, as if another person were writing it about us. What major achievements or moments would stand out among the many years of teaching? How would students, families, coworkers remember your spirit and work? Who are you as a teacher? These very questions should guide our instruction and our classroom. This is what I hope can be said about me in the year I retire from teaching...
My Premature Retirement Speech
An average school day runs somewhere from 8am to about 3pm, yet well before the first bell and well after the last, you could always find Michelle somewhere in the school building. Yes, many days that meant grading, lesson planning, or copying, but you could also find Michelle going the extra mile on a committee or team or doing something to make someone else’s day a little better. She made herself present in the classroom, but her spirit was throughout the building and community because of her involvement. During her first year at Bywood Elementary she volunteered to be involved at the school holiday concert. That was when she donned a yellow hard hat while students used their teacher’s heads as a surface to play jingle bells on! The smile on her face and on the kids made it memorable, for sure.
I think Michelle really committed herself to teaching because of the relationships. Her students and coworkers became part of her life over the years. She claimed she stayed after school to finish things so she wouldn’t bring work home with her, but I’m pretty sure work was always with her. Everything and every experience could connect back to her students. There were many days during lunch where she sat at the back table in her room, having lunch with a group of students. Or other days where recess was spent making snowflakes with kids to hang from the ceiling in their room. Those everyday relationships are the reason that when students think about 5th grade, they smile. Maya Angelou once wrote, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Michelle is that teacher that when you think back on your time with her, you smile.
She hasn’t simply been “a teacher”, she is “the teacher”. She is “the teacher” that stopped to ask you how you were because she noticed that you weren’t fully yourself that morning. How did she become “the teacher”? Because she made herself available to others. She is kind. She is compassionate. She is real. She is thoughtful. These are the things that truly made Michelle an asset to our team, our school, our community, but most importantly her students. So tonight, we celebrate her and tomorrow we go to our classrooms to continue in our own ways to be present, kind, compassionate, and real with our students too. To Michelle, your presence in the lives you’ve touched will never retire. For you, we wish you an amazing eternal summer. Cheers!