This is not a post on how technology is changing life in the classroom. There are already way too many articles on this topic and I am really not all that interested in how Flipgrid is revolutionizing education.
This more about a different path for an educator – me.
I retired as an active educator, a principal almost two years ago. I didn’t retire because I couldn’t do the job anymore. I loved the chaos and energy that came with being an elementary principal. I retired because of the unrelenting pressure put on me by a vindictive school board that was committed to turning me out any time I tried to do something different. The last straw for them had to do with my efforts to update lists of eligible FSL teaching candidates for principals on a Google Doc.
In my last year, I was called into the superintendent’s office for a little ‘talk to’ even before the year started. My resignation letter was a defence against senior officials who were set on intimidation.
This, however, is not the main subject of this post. While I am still angry with the school board, there is nowhere to go with this so I just bury it in a dark place, unresolved.
More positively, I am finding my life as an educator continues. Now I have the wonderful responsibility of looking after my 91-year-old mom who moved to Ottawa from Montreal at the end of the summer.
What a wonderful situation. I am freed up from the day to day struggle of being a public (separate) school principal to focus on the woman who raised me and formed me. What a gift this is.
My mom’s residence is just five minutes from our house. She loves it there. One day I arrived to see her sitting on their lovely broad porch sunning herself in the early autumn sun. Eyes closed, big smile, she was so happy and at peace. She said ‘I just love to be outside’.
After a month in the new wonderful residence, she had a series of falls, one resulting in a fractured hip. The hospital was just a few minutes from the residence and I was able to be there within a few hours of the fall and sat with her as she went through all the preliminaries leading up to an operation to fix the hip.
We were at the Ottawa General, and I can’t say enough about the level of care and respect we receive there. I met at least four doctors before the surgery who carefully explained the procedure to me. The chief of emergency medicine talked to me about a procedure they were about to perform. He was a former student I worked with at Holy Trinity High School when I worked on the school’s leadership camp program. Now, many years later, he is a wonderful kind, gentle man who reassured us that my mom would be ok.
Now a month later, I go to the hospital almost every day. I am meeting with care providers, nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. They have become our happy medical family and they treat my mom with beautiful dignity and loving care. They have even set her up with a radio she can listen to in the hallway so she doesn’t miss any of the action.
This is my new life as an educator. Now, I am focusing on just one person and doing my best to support all the medical and health care workers who are helping my mom. It is far from the roles I played in the school system, but I am part of a system and I can see how all these people work together for the care of the elderly.
Family dynamics still play a role in all this. All the members of our family here in Ottawa help out. They visit mom when I need a break. But families are strange. While everyone here is a great help, my one brother living in Toronto refuses to have any contact with any of us and has shut himself off from any information on my mother’s condition. Again, as an educator, this is something I saw when working through difficult family situations. The only difference now is that this is happening within my own family.
Today there are lots of meetings to attend and phone calls to make as we arrange the transition of my mom back to her residence. We have a great, effective team working through this. I was getting emails about the transition as late as 8:30 last night – how great is that!
I am learning lots. We are so fortunate to have such an excellent health care system here in Ontario. We are doubly blessed to have a system that shows so much respect for the elderly.
I love my new role as an educator. I retired into a new role as a caregiver and I feel like I am doing something special.
That deep, dark place recedes more every day. There is so much good out there when you have the opportunity to look for it.