The Final Chapter on Teaching

colorful libraryThis is the time of year we all get excited about the holidays, except if you are a student and are coming down the home stretch with final exams leering in the near future. Last night was the last class that I will teach for the year; the two remaining class periods will include a practice test and then a FINAL exam.

We covered our final chapters last night, and I gave the students one final opportunity to raise questions on topics they still have failed to grasp. I can’t say I was surprised at some of the topics — like antecedents, appositives, comma placement, reflexive pronouns, and infinitives. I was surprised, though, when I learned some were still having trouble with coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. God knows why these parts of speech are so problematic.

I sure wish there was a magic bullet for these students. English, even when it is your first language, can be so tough to understand. Truthfully, I think the originators of the language wanted to keep outsiders out–kind of like an exclusive club with its secret handshake. Just when a person grasps a concept, there is always an exception. It’s a wonder how immigrants ever pick up our language. I’m happy I didn’t have to learn it; I was born with it. So I can be patient with students struggling with concepts we learned early on in the class.

The saddest part of this class session is the final curtain has fallen on my teaching. I need to devote more attention to Ken, as well as my writing. I have “fallen off the wagon” with my novel, and I want to devote myself to producing another good story by next spring. I also don’t want to deal with the cold and snow when my old bones creak. I would have been a very good bear in winter because I’d just like to hibernate until spring.

Yes, I’m closing this chapter of my life. I’m ending yet another career. Not surprisingly, the constant thread running through my varied careers has been writing. From now on, I will grow where I’ve been planted. I will write until I have passed this life and go on  to the next. Writing and reading take me away from my small living room in a small house in Mid-west America. I can travel anywhere I want to go from my recliner when my real life commands I must stay put.

Do I regret not teaching any more? Yes and No. I’m a little burned out when it comes to trying to excite students who have no curiosity. Students who watch me with a blank stare are impossible to reach. They have no desire to learn, and I wonder why they are in the classroom in the first place. No matter what I try, I don’t seem to be able to light a fire in these individuals. But I will miss those students who look at me with bright eyes and truly do their best work. Seeing their progression is a wonderful thing because I know they will succeed at whatever they decide to do after they leave me with a few more arrows in their education quiver.

5 thoughts on “The Final Chapter on Teaching

  1. Life is always in flow. You can paddle upstream or down. Glad you have chosen downstream. I’m sure you will both be happier with more time at home. You remember last years blog I wrote about my cave. It’s 20 degrees here and I have no desire to go out. It’s a good day for baking, I’m with you on the reading and writing thing. But I’d have to add a bit of sewing to that as well. As soon as this place is Christmas ready, I’ll get back to it. Those kids don’t know what they are missing. Their loss.

    • Today it’s 10 degrees. This weather is far from my favorite time of the year. Luckily, I have a little money this year to deck the halls. It’s nice to be surrounded by kindred spirits!


  2. If you ever decide to run an on-line course on grammar, let me know. I struggle with it and I have yet to write a blog post where my wife hasn’t added or (more likely) removed a comma. Good luck as you continue defining yourself. It’s good to be a work-in-progress 🙂

    • “A work in progress.” I like that. I think you just summarized my entire life. Since childhood, I have searched for where I truly belong. It’s happy to know that I’ve finally found my place. I will think about the on-line grammar idea. However, it will awhile. I have finals to get through before I “retire” and move on to my next phase.


  3. Kudos to you for your service. My wife and I volunteer at the USO–and we thank the troops for their service. I started in education in 1963; I have been out of the classroom now since 2011. Two whole years. I miss much. But it was time. We have a crisis in US education. I moved from job to career to profession…and then back as an adjunct and writing lab “helper.” Another job. It is over. I write now, and no grades to give nor papers to correct–except my own. But it was a good run. I do not recommend the job to anyone, except for pre-school teachers. After that…you were right. Finger painting is the answer. :o)

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