This was a tough week. Officially, I accepted a new position in the Unified School District of De Pere as a Technology Training Specialist. Obviously, there was a lot of excitement in my mind because THAT is the type of work I want to be doing. Helping teachers help students. That means I get to work with and potentially impact more students! That is good.
However, there is always a downside. The old saying goes you can't please everybody. I've learned that lesson many times in my life, but still try my best to make everybody happy (because apparently I don't learn that well). I had to tell my colleagues that I was leaving. An old cooperating teacher once told me that everyone is replaceable, and I know it won't be long until I'm a distant memory. Or maybe not.
Upon receiving the official word and talking to my administrators, colleagues, and some students, I received an unbelievable outpouring of well-wishing, sadness at my leaving, and gratitude for things I might have done for them. You honestly never know the effect even the littlest actions have on others. I really don't take compliments well. I have no idea if I should smile or stay stoic, respond or stay quiet, sit up straight or hunch over, look at the person in the eyes or look down. I cannot believe the sheer number of people who had nothing but amazing things to say about me. I had students tell me I was their best teachers (that I hadn't had for over a year).
Maybe it is a confidence issue, but I don't think I'm that great. I struggle to maximize class time. I can be a pushover when it comes to discipline. I'm probably too lenient on grading and assessment. I may not always explain things clearly. I struggle to set up engaging, relevant projects with multiple means to demonstrating learning.
But technology and I always meshed, and people counted on for me that. I have no idea how or why it happened, but I am always grateful for the opportunity to help others.
And that is what makes this so hard. I could never anticipate how much my colleagues respected and appreciated the little things I did for them. Being in three different buildings, I connected with nearly 100 educators. A good amount of those I assisted with little tech things here or there, mostly simple questions, but sometimes big projects. Many of them I can call friends.
I've never had that before in my life.
My family has always been great, but to this day, outside of the friends I have made in my time with the Denmark School District, I might have two friends I talk to, and that includes my wife. Now, I can say I have made many life-long friends through this endeavor. Nothing will ever be like walking into school and working with people you love. That is so hard to find. Then, to have those people love you back is really more than I can take. I've been on the verge of some kind of breakdown all week. It hasn't happened yet, but when the weight of my decision finally hits me, I'm not sure how I will react.
No more classroom.
Friends left behind.
Comfort zone gone.
To quote Jack Bauer, sometimes you don't know that you've made the right decision until everything plays out. On one hand, I LOVE what I will get to be doing. Working with teachers and helping them better integrate technology to increase engagement and reinforce important skills in today's society is such a strong passion of mine. I will get to affect the lives of many hundreds of students. And I will be able to provide my full attention and concentration on learning the best tools and tactics for helping teachers of all levels achieve true tech integration.
On the other hand, I am leaving behind a situation where I got to affect hundreds of children, directly, in a classroom. I got to work with many colleagues and administrators who supported every crazy idea I had. the relationships I built made working with people on tech related issues so much easier, because we all felt comfortable working with each other. I'd also formed some incredible awesome bonds with the students. I will never forgot being called Mr. Galuffy or Coach Bob. Ever.
After an emotional day, saying goodbye to 8th graders and colleagues for the summer (and possibly for quite a long time), I had an opportunity to unwind with those same colleagues and had an amazing night out. I honestly didn't want the night to end, because that meant it was truly over. My time at Denmark has passed. I know the path to greatness is littered with pot holes, detours, and road blocks. Who knows what the next move is, or what the right move is. All I can know is what I feel is best for me professionally and to make that decision for me.
As I wrap up, I find it challenging to fight back the tears of joy and sadness as I reflect on my first three teaching years in a place I could really refer to as another family. There are so many great memories, so many great people, and so many great kids. I feel like I'm letting them down by making this decision. We have to hold onto the fact that we are in this to help kids live better lives. We have to hold on to the fact that even though we don't get to work together every day, we still get to be friends. That doesn't ever have to change. So until we meet again, I will always remember every one of my colleagues fondly and hope that our time together didn't end today at Jimmy Seas listening to our band teacher colleague rip it up.
But if it is, at least we can say we went out with some jazz!