Chuck Brooks' column: A major milestone for Mr. Brooks
Drum roll, please.
Last week, I shared with you an important date from my past. This week, on March 14, a landmark day for two reasons.
Reason number one: Trimester Two is ending today. This is a day normally intended JUST for teachers. Students were originally scheduled to be sleeping in. However, Mother Nature saw fit to change that. Consequently, there’s a little more pressure on the classroom teacher to find time to wrap up the second trimester and grades by the following week’s deadline while, at the same time, trying to prepare for Day/Week One of trimester three. It’s a bit of a juggling act. Gotta live it to understand it.
When we began putting up bulletin boards late August, sitting through the initial faculty meetings, and discussing curriculum and standards with our departments, the year ahead seemed endless. After having just returned from a fairly stress-free two months of life, we all could feel the nerves once again tightening in our necks and time-management ordering our lives.Now we are 13 weeks from greeting the summer. More importantly, however, we are on the precipice of spring break. The first week of trimester three will be an interesting one as we try to establish a tone for the duration while battling those faraway stares in our students’ eyes as they dream about the week to come where alarms and teachers and homework aren’t an essential part of their daily lives for seven days.From previous experience, this is the trimester for the desperate senior. This is the last chance for the senior who may not have had the greatest foresight earlier in the year or even earlier than that. Parents are beginning to plan graduation parties and all want their son or daughter, at the very least, to walk across the stage graduation night and then receive their actual diploma that same evening inside the PAC lobby.Welcome to crunch time, folks.Reason number two: After 32 years, I have hit my Rule of 90 date. For those of you who are in the dark as to what that means, the Rule of 90 is for the older batch of teachers who came in under that clause. When you take years of teaching and combine it with the age of the teacher, if it equals 90, the teacher is legit material for retirement. Yep. That’s right. I’m official. Any day now, I can walk out of the classroom, throw the papers in the air and say, “Buh bye.”As tongue-in-cheek as that might be, the reality of hitting this date after all these years brings with it some raw realism regarding life. Where did these years go?I remember when I began and my reaction to what had been labeled by the faculty themselves as “the old buzzards.” They seemed really “seasoned.” For those of you who need assistance, that would be a euphemism for “old.” To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d even be in education all my life, and I certainly never thought I’d stay in one building or one district. It just seemed to me I would move on to something or somewhere else. If someone had said to me I’d be in one place doing one thing for 32 years, I would have smiled graciously and thought them crazy.Last summer, I had a meeting with the Teachers’ Retirement Association folks regarding life after teaching. I have to admit, driving into a parking lot with those three words on a huge slab of marble in front of their office building was really quite weird. I repeat, REALLY QUITE WEIRD. The woman I chatted with shared with me my income history from the beginning of my career. Another weird moment. I remember how excited I was that first year when I learned I was going to make $17,785. Today, it seems so minimal. I know. It’s all relative.In those early years, I never cared about this date arriving. Then, at one point, I thought it would never arrive. And now … it’s here. My thoughts are many.Am I retiring today? I wouldn’t have to grade research papers third trimester! But, no. So, “When?” you ask? How about we talk about that at a different time?Works for me!