Endings and beginnings. . .

I’ve always fancied myself a writer of sorts, though I’ve never published anything you would have read, that is, until now.  I love the art of writing–the careful and deliberate re-creation of experience and feeling so that others may share in it, so that is why I chose to teach English.  (I’ll save my love for literature for another post!) I love all kinds of writing, so I’ve taught creative writing, research, rhetoric, speech, and journalism.  I delight in what makes each of them unique as well as what ties them all together.  Passion.

As much as I love writing, though, in truth, I am a teacher.  I am a teacher in my bones, my heart, my soul and every cell that enables me to be.  I will not apologize for that.  I believe teaching is the noblest of professions.  I walk beside my students and then behind them as they stride into the future.  Often they stumble or stray, but a real teacher knows that unless her students stumble and stray, they won’t learn.

This is the seventeenth summer of my teaching career.  I laugh when people suggest that I actually vacation during the summer months.  I’ve never known a summer when I’ve not spent hours planning, meeting, studying, reading, imagining, hoping, shopping, decorating, and waiting for the next school year.   It seems impossible that I’ve done that seventeen times.  I still feel I have so much to learn about being a great teacher.

One summer I took students on a theater tour of London and the surrounding area.  What a joy!  The things I learned from that trip have been a part of my teaching since we went in June of 2001.  For the past two years I’ve taken 5-day jaunts to Stratford, Ontario, Canada to their wonderful Shakespeare Festival.  I learn things there that I bring back and share with my students, too.  Those are my “vacations.”

This summer I finished my master’s degree in secondary education and educational leadership.  I took the school administrator’s licensing exam and did well, so now all that remains is paper work.  On the cusp of the transition from teacher to administrator, this is a pivotal summer for me for many reasons.  After more than ten years as department chair, I resigned my position and am mentoring a new department leader to take my place.  After more than 8 years as a school improvement leader, I am stepping back to let others take the lead.

It is a difficult transition, but it teaches me a very practical and essential lesson.  A good leader is one who can, like a good teacher, guide others into realizing their leadership potential.  A good leader is one who can recognize and work to develop the talent around her.

I have given up the roles that have prompted my growth as an education leader in anticipation of the next step, but one thing is certain:  my greatest joy will be my only focus this year.  I get to teach my students, and I can’t wait to get started as my seventeenth summer comes to its close.


About cwilkeson

I am an English teacher, passionate about engaging students in the art of expression with language.
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2 Responses to Endings and beginnings. . .

  1. Elaina says:

    Your passion as a teacher impacted me in such a positive way. I’m really glad I had a smart, caring human being who ignited with delight while she taught. Never lose that fire!

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