Living the Good Life
A friend of mine is getting ready to retire. He is looking forward to years and years of rising at his own schedule, the opportunity to travel, to dandle the grandchildren on his knee, and basically reap the reward of prudent investing so that he can be master of his own fate.
A superintendent I know has been on medical leave due to a very serious illness and is retiring at the end of the school year. Just a few short months ago, he was planning for his district's next state review and cheering on the football team, and then sudenly he was fighting for his life. He was planning many more years as an educational leader, being a relatively young man, and now he acknowledges that the twilight years will probably arrive far more quickly and be far briefer than he had originally planned.
Planning is at the center of a teacher's life. We are taught to plan lessons, units, assessments. We decide upon essential questions, objectives, and we sift and seine lesson material and information to help our students make sense of the subject. In particular, we are constatnly admonished to evaluate our use of time and emphasis to prepare for that overwhelming behemoth of modern public education known as "THE TEST."
But you know, really every day is "THE TEST," and there are things for which we cannot plan. As I consider the fact that none of us are promised even one more hour, I have to ask myself: "What if this were all that there ever was going to be in my life? Would I be satisfied with my life if I had nothing more than what I already have done thus far?" This is the test which I need to apply to each day.
And you know, I have to say that, yes, I would feel that my life had been worthwhile if I never get to that place where one gets to rest upon their laurels. I have a wonderful family. I have caring friends. I have a career that makes a difference in people's futures, in which I truly get to minister to young people and help them to discern the paths of their lives. It's often too difficult to feel a real sense of accomplishment in the teaching profession, because we never get to see a final product. People don't work that way. An education is a work in progress, and it does not end by spring testing or by graduation or even by dropping out. The lessons we impart and the information we give may not come to fruition in a students' life on our timetable. It may not seem to make a difference in time for the state test. But it may make a difference eventually.
And that IS the true test.