When facing new challenges and insecurities, as in retirement, it’s good to think back to past victories over unlikely starts, don’t you think?
My most unlikely start came when my thirty-something-year-old husband, and father of our eight- and eleven-year-olds, learned that he had a congenital heart defect, requiring non-emergency valve replacement surgery.
With four months to prepare for the reality of his open-heart surgery (at that time, in its procedural infancy) and the specter, if something went wrong, of being solely responsible for our two children, I scrambled mid-school-year to find the security of a full-time job.
Only available job was a just-posted language arts computer lab teacher position.
That was an interesting job possibility for me, since I had never touched a computer–or even been in the same air space with one—nor did I have any desire to do so.
No matter. As “necessity is the mother of invention,” I invented myself, thanks to three days of Apple training provided by the district, into becoming the district’s first Basic Skills language arts computer lab instructor, sharing responsibility for opening the lab with my math teacher counterpart.
Bottomline, not only did I totally amaze myself that I could do the job, but apparently I amazed one of the vendors (Bank Street Writer) who offered me a full-time training job, and our district’s administration who replaced the Apple trainer with me, holding me responsible for providing computer literacy training classes for all the teachers (elementary through high school), administrators, and even some interested Board members in our large suburban system—at the time, sixth largest in our state. The computer consultant the district hired was impressed with me, too; she invited me, in her absence, to guest lecture her undergraduate class at the local university.
Apparently, I continued to impress. At the end of the year, the district offered me the opportunity to “run” the first mobile computer lab. …All I had to do was get my bus driver’s license.
Having no where near the predilection for driving a bus as does Mo Willems’ Pigeon, I graciously backed out of the educational pioneer computer arena, happily relinquishing my role as one of the district’s digital change agents, and “reverted” to being a traditional eighth grade Language Arts classroom teacher, albeit incorporating technology into my teaching and my students’ hands-on learning.
Could it be Pigeon has more brains than I? There I had been with an invitation handed to me, not only to get onboard the digital express, but to help drive it, servicing all district schools and students, and I chose not to take the wheel.
(When he heard I would have to get my commercial driver’s license, my husband didn’t exactly instill confidence, commenting that I already turned corners in our sedan as if I were driving a bus. Admittedly, though, if I had wanted to drive a computer-lab bus, those would have been fighting words to prove I could do it. I didn’t.)
Could be it was the biggest mistake of my professional life. I’ll never know, will I?
Thought about that in one of my last days as a library media specialist this past June when a fifth grade teacher remarked how much his students enjoyed maneuvering the Oregon Trail online. Students just couldn’t get enough of transporting themselves over the Trail.
Oregon Trail, as in one of the first educational computer “games” I shared with basic skills students back in the district’s first computer lab? …incredulously, I wondered.
Could it be? Yes! Surprisingly, now, all these years later, there is an online version of the back-then popular MECC over-sized floppy program.
(MECC—there’s an acronym I haven’t thought of in a couple of decades. Minnesota Educational Computer Consortium—how I relied on their products, “back then.”)
Circle the wagons. I think I’ve come full circle. Amazing…Retiring. And now I’ve even started tweeting! More Phoenix than Pigeon, I’m back aboard in an entirely new way, more student than teacher. An exciting new beginning.
Bring on retirement with all its opportunities and challenges. Given what I’ve been through, guess there isn’t anything I can’t do, if I need and want to–anything, that is, within reason! (Don’t think you’ll ever seeing me behind the wheel of a bus; I think I’ll leave that joy for Pigeon.)
Are there any pioneering opportunities you let pass by? Wish you hadn’t?