Some figures are easy to calculate, others become muddy or I cannot keep them in mind – sometimes that’s a good sign. I stepped into my first classroom at Government Secondary School Kagoro, Kaduna State, Nigeria August 1980, freshly graduated from the University of Regina. Yesterday I closed my classroom door at Sunningdale School, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. Let’s say then I’ve been in the classroom for thirty five years.
I’m a person of privilege in many ways, not the least of which, I am male. It made it easier for me to stay in the classroom for so many years. Over this span of time, I experienced only one year of unemployment between my time in Nigeria and first contract in Saskatchewan. I substituted as much as I could in Regina, Saskatchewan as I anxiously applied for contracts. I substituted, and taught on the University of Regina campus years later as I did grad studies. Otherwise, I’ve been full time in Saskatchewan classrooms. It’s been a privilege.
I’m not done, and I seem to have trouble keeping my retirement in mind. There are some linear measures. One is June 30, 2019 when I could take full pension (more example of privilege, but earned too). Another is October 27, 2021 when I turn 65. These are arbitrary dates, socially and personally meaningful. I try to keep them in mind. It is the cycles I am more mindful of. Tuesday I said goodbye to my class, and for the next two days my mind was consumed with planning for next year. That sort of engagement drives retirement out of my mind.
This Canada Day morning (149 years, my adopted country for as long as I’ve been a teacher!) I’m caught somewhere early in summer decompression. The professional motor probably needs to idle a while, but I am still energized by that two days of intense focus on my next class. It is hard to break away. It is not quite yet conceivable that I will ever set this work aside for more than a break. Okay, I do have my moments of anticipation, you can imagine them, I’m sure. While I have my linear calendar, truth is, I’m waiting for the signal that the cycles are complete.