The end of the 2005-2006 school year found me hot, pregnant, and moving classrooms. A teacher was moving out of the room she had been in for probably longer than I had been alive, and I was moving in. My baby was due in September, so I knew I couldn’t wait until August to get my stuff moved in and situated. Having no kids to tend to yet, I would go work in my new classroom in the morning on those mid-June days, and then go see a movie in the afternoon, and be home in time to make dinner. Moving classrooms isn’t fun, but I had a pretty good rhythm going. During the move I asked the custodian to help me hang some stuff on the walls, and I expected him to drill some holes into the brick walls and hang my stuff. I was the teacher. I needed this stuff on my wall. I could tell that my request annoyed him, and I was pretty sure I heard him mumble something along the lines of “you teachers think you are going to be in the same room until you retire.” He was right. I absolutely did think that. The thought never occurred to me that someone different might be moving in that room the following year, and they might not want a hole in the wall. I was certain that I was going to retire from teaching in another 29 years, and I would someday be the old teacher moving out so a newbie could move in. The thought never occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, life doesn’t always follow my roadmap. Last week I was back up at that school to volunteer. That baby I was pregnant with in 2006 is 9 years old now and has his last day in that school building tomorrow. Since I left the classroom in 2012, I believe 4, maybe 5 different teachers have taught in that room, that room that the custodian painted blue, in honor of my baby boy.
I came across this quote recently: We may come to discover in the future that we are wrong about something we are certain we are right about right now.
Man, isn’t that life? In 2006 I was certain I would retire from teaching, and my last year would be in that very same blue classroom. But since that time, I had a stint at home, I had an office job at UM-Flint, and now I’m working from home. In 2006 I had it all figured out. Turns out I was wrong. And that’s okay. But what’s not okay is for me to have such tunnel vision that I can’t hear other voices speaking into me and guiding me. That custodian could see a bigger picture than I could, but I wouldn’t hear of it.
So my stuff didn’t get hung on the wall that year. I don’t recall for sure, but I’m willing to bet that the students did still learn how to do long division- even without the powerful examples I was convinced I could show them if only I had a white board. Thankfully this silly example didn’t come with lasting consequences. But, it makes me wonder what else I have missed along the way because I was so certain I was right that I couldn’t hear what the wiser people with a better view were saying to me.