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.