Waiting for the School Bell

As I write today, I realize why my moods have been introspective, and I have had to fight the Bad Critic when I thought I have been experiencing a reprieve. I woke up Sunday morning, and like two big globs of dark jelly, depression hit me hard in the face.

There’s no reason for this, I thought. I don’t have to go back to school to teach. My summer can continue for a bit. Of course, I remain a grad student, but I have no books to stack, no pencils and pens to stash and no bulletin boards to dream up.

Can we do a big Homer Simpson “Doh!”

I have been going back to school every year since 1990. I knew this moment was coming, but I thought I wouldn’t be affected. I remain a student. What’s up with this, Bad Critic?

By Sunday afternoon, I retreated to my safe place, where I don’t have to think. I napped for three hours. Three hours? Seriously, that cannot be healthy. But the reality is, my world has changed over the summer, and I walked out of the classroom. I said good-bye and cried a little, but I wasn’t expecting the Bad Critic to show up two weeks before school even starts here in the city.

I guess it all goes back a lot of years to when I was a kid, jumping up and down and anxious for school to start. New everything: clothes, lunch box, papers, pencils, everything. I mostly loved school all of my life. Regina, who lives next door, told me she was excited to go school shopping, too. I asked her if she would miss summer, and she said, “No! I’m sick of my brothers!”

Okay then. I’m going to be just a little school-sick, instead of homesick.

When I know why I’m feeling the way I do, I can get out of the depression easier. For example, when I was driving alone on the highway last Sunday, I yelled, “Get out. Leave me alone!” And you know what, it worked.

Happy Back to School, and listen to the school bell (buzzer). You might miss it one day.

I’m Not Seeing Pretty Today.

Today is June 13, 2018, and it was the last day of my teaching career which began in the fall of 1993. I had just graduated from Millersville University with a master’s in English, and I headed to the community college to teach a night class. I was lucky enough to get one class a semester to teach, but then I literally ran into the assistant head of a girls’ school at our daughters’ day care, and she was looking for ESL teacher. Not a lot of people in the United States were teaching English as a Second Language; in fact, there was no degree possible.

I was asked if I thought I could handle five girls from Korea who had just arrived and needed a teacher because they could only speak a little English.

“Sure!” my dumbass said. I had a little experience and fortunately had taken a lot of linguistic classes, so I knew how the language worked. Yeah. Me. Call Me Super English!

Sixteen years later, I had written the ESL curriculum for the girls’ school which had blossomed into a rose garden of second language speakers. I developed at least ten different year-long programs, plus testing preparation for students from all over the world. Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal Romania, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, and more. I was their “English Mama,” because these girls were so far from home, I served many roles.

I had planned to stay at the school and retire, but life throws us egg rolls sometimes, and I ended up teaching some of the city students in a different kind of school. I stayed nine years until ESL had evolved so much that teaching requirements changed. It happens!

I am thinking I must have had thousands of students cross my path! I was so hopeful, so determined, but it is hard for me to think this September will be the first one since 1990  that I have not been in school, either as a student or a teacher. Oh, it’s not sad. I am writing and continuing grad classes and finding new rainbows to climb.

I toast all my students! May all your dreams come true. (And I hope you know the difference between “its” and “it’s.” At least that.)