Back in 1996 when I quit teaching to go have babies, I didn’t know if I’d ever go back to it.  I cleared out of my classroom, lugging home boxes of files.  Stuff I might need.  Stuff I might want.  I certainly intended to keep my certification up-to-date and valid.  It’s an uncertain world, but a person who can teach kids with severe and profound disabilities can always get a job.


Today I opened the cabinet in which all that stuff got stashed.  I found reams of extraneous paper.  I found the minutes of staff meetings I attended 12 years ago.  I found the signed permission slips allowing children who are now grown to go on field trips I no longer remember organizing.  I found folders full of articles and other forms of information—none of which I’ve ever consulted.  And I found teaching materials.  Worksheets, data forms, task analyses of the skills of daily living, augmentative communication methods for children who can’t speak, and more and more.


I chucked it all in the recycle bin. 


My certification lapsed long ago.  My training took place in the dark days before email.  Probably everything I learned is now considered obsolete.  With the power of the internet, my files could be repopulated quickly should I ever decide to go back. 


I’m not going back.


I didn’t love teaching.  Never thought it was the right job for me.  Never missed it.  


But now it’s 2:30 in the morning and I’m still awake.  Maybe the past doesn’t let go of you as easily as pitching a drawer full of files.




17 thoughts on “PURGE

  1. Don’t believe it is the past letting go of us so much as the re-membering we manage to do,  Something seen, a scent smelled, a trigger of familiar words are all we need to water the dry roots of memory.  Going on is a gift.  Dragging  everything along is burdensome and bulky too!Always enjoy your posts, dear heart.Namaste!

  2. I recently did something similar, so I understand. I felt refreshed by it during the day, but as darkness fell and I looked for sleep, all I found was my thoughts. If it helps, it’s not keeping me up anymore.

  3. Whether you loved it or not, your career was and still is a gift. All those children would not be who they are today if not for you and the other teachers. My brother has decided to switch his major from engineering to teaching, and I’m cheering behind him all the way. Because I know I could never do it. It takes a strong angel to be a teacher. 🙂

  4. I am right there with you.  I have ten years’ worth of teaching stuff in my basement.  It takes up a good fourth of the room.  I, however, will most likely return to teaching in a few years, when SP starts school.
    Oh, how I would love to get rid of all that junk for good.

  5. I recently coached a friend through a pre-college writing class so she could go on and re-train for a new career. She was desperate to learn. I admit freely and openly that any instinct I ever had to teach anyone anything was exaggerated at the time, and has since died of benign neglect, and there is a whole career’s worth of children who have gone on to live happier, more productive lives for never having had me as their teacher.  

  6. Good for you!  I am always a big supporter of getting rid of stuff, especially if it includes recycling. In fact, those are 2 of my favorite things in the whole world.  I hope you eventually got some sleep.  I think one of my least favorite things in the whole world is not being able to sleep when I need need need to.

  7. I agree that getting rid of things is a hard thing to do.  You are smarter and better than almost all the teachers I ever worked with.  I think you seem happier doing what you do now. 
    Hope your week is good!

  8. Every now and then I wax nostalgic about being in the navy.  It was rewarding, exciting, fun … but I’ll never go back.  Sure, I could go back in the medical corps as an officer now, but it just wouldn’t be the same.
    It made me what I am today, but I’m glad I walked away from it so many years ago.

  9. Yeah….some parts of my past seem to hang on like Kudzu for some reason.  But it’s better than a cupboard full of unnecessary paper.  Now if I could just fit my entire self into that recycling bin………

  10. RYC about the bad boys.  It is illegal for me to post images of them, I know right?  Kind of sucks.  I’m always up at night with my mind racing over stupid crap that does not bother me in the day time.  Just be glad it doesn’t happen more often.  I used to teach pre school.  I would rather be a custodian than do that again.

  11. Oh my gosh.  I quit in 1990 and never looked back and people think it’s so weird.  I love kids, but to be with them all day and then come home to them? Uh-uh.But I still “teach” Sunday school.  I put it in quotations because usually, they have better insights than do I OR they’re so wild the only learning that’s going on is me learning I suck at discipline.  But then,I’ve known that since 1974 when I started babysitting.

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