No longer teaching, the lack of closure, and loving my students

* an earlier version of this was posted on social media on October 25, 2018. I’m including my original post with some additional thoughts. 

Cleaning out my home office means processing a lot of emotions. If I said leaving two teaching jobs (in four years) didn’t shake my confidence and worth to the core, I’d be lying. There are so many days when I think about what I could have done different or better as a teacher. Where did I screw up? Did I spend my whole life on the wrong path? What I’ve learned about these losses, especially the charter school gig, is that I have to accept that I’ll never have clear answers to these questions. I have to walk away being proud of who I am and what I accomplished in the classroom.

I was so excited to be teaching at the charter school last year. I was challenged professionally in ways I had never been in my nine years at the public high school. I felt like I belonged and that I was in a place where I could do meaningful work and have a real impact. But I didn’t get the opportunity to see what could become of me in that environment. It’s been hard to accept that and hard to accept that I won’t get full closure on this chapter in my life. A friend (who knows how intensely I cling to the notion of closure) shared a quote with me when I was talking to them about my anxiety over losing that job.

“Closure is bullshit. It’s a tool for manipulating people into talking to you past the point where they’re done talking to you.”
— a line from an episode of Greater Boston.

So I have a hard time accepting that some parts of our life we don’t get to have closure, but I think I’m getting closer to accepting it in this situation. I’m still having anxiety dreams about the charter school, but they are less frequent. In fact, earlier this month I have my first dream involving that school that didn’t involve heartbreak, confusion, anger, or pain. In the dream, there was a sense of relief. I woke up from it feeling as though this was the beginning of my acceptance and my letting go.

While cleaning out my home office I came across a few notes and drawings from former students – over the years of my teaching career I’ve gotten a lot of these from students. Some students have shared how I’ve impacted them in some way. These notes are so very special to me. I made mistakes as a teacher and I was certainly no John Keating in the classroom. I didn’t always have enough patience. I struggled with time management. But I loved my students something fierce. I wanted them to achieve their full potential and to see how special their abilities were. Despite losing these two jobs, I can walk away from teaching knowing that I loved my students and feeling that in my heart.

We’ll see what this next chapter holds for me. Today, my heart breaks a little.

About Gina Marie Thompson

writer • mom • mountain biker • outdoor adventurer • educator • social justice crusader • seeker of love & beauty• living locally • I CHOOSE LOVE ❤️
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