Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wow, That Door Really Hurt When It Hit My Ass.

Well, well, well.

My resignation was received Tuesday by noon. My job was posted by noon today. 

By 11 this morning my principal sent an all staff email announcing I had decided to resign from the district using the usual administrative one line bullshit about thanking me for my years of service to the district and the students.

By 3 this afternoon I was booted off school email.

Tomorrow I am going into my room to pack up the rest of my stuff.  Principal won't be there, she assures me my pass will work to get me in the door and that my room will be unlocked.

Any bets on that?  My pass key won't work and room will be locked.

Downtown is partying tonight and will continue to do so into the school year.......

..... until they see my name on the next school board ballot.

And you know what?  I don't think we are irreplaceable in any meaningful way.  I think we are only replaceable in the any-warm-body-will-work sense.

I am sad.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And The Door Has Hit Me In The Ass

So, it is now official.  I have submitted my written resignation to the school board and superintendent.  The Superintendent also got a two page letter outlining how I arrived at my decision to leave.  It outlined the unresolved issue from November as well as concerns I have about the special education department.  I was careful not to name names or use specific examples of stupidity.  I offered my assistance and let him know I was going to still be around as a parent of special needs kiddos in his district.  I informed him that while I was counseled to seek legal action regarding the November incident, I chose not to in hopes that bringing awareness about it there would be no further victims of this sort of harassment.

Yeah, I know.  Why waste my breath.

I guess I am treating him like I would my students.  Ever hopeful that once in a while what I have to say has of a bit of value and will stick.

But I did make good points that I felt were necessary to expose.  Not for revenge.  Not to be fixed.  But to be the voice of those unheard and uncared for.  One of the most important being two African American boys expelled from our district after they left my program... at the end of the year after I begged for reasonable help and was told to suck it up.  Yep, expelled because our district placed them in a resource program where they were certain to be unsuccessful.  So, isn't it our fault they failed?  Shouldn't other placements have been tried?  Shouldn't I have been consulted before this decision was made?  I knew these boys and although they were quite prickly, I deeply cared for them.  Shouldn't we all be doing everything we can to make sure they graduate from high school?

And my second point was about how our district keeps hiring special needs teachers for less than 1.0 FTE.  Really?  My kid has autism ALL day, not just .6 of the day.  Do any of you know any CD, EBD, AUT or LD kid that is only challenged by his/her disability a fraction of the day?  Oh, if only.  Geez, what I would pay to have Movie Man and Superman special needs for only .6 of the day.

I included a bit in my letter about the lack of vision, effective leadership and planning in the special ed department.  I had to.  You know I did.

But what was good about the letter is that it was not angry.  It was out of deep concern.

So, I mailed the letters at the post office to guarantee I would not dig the envelope out of my own mailbox and then sent it all to my principal electronically so she would get it a few hours ahead of Downtown Suits.  She called this AM.  I did not take the call.  I know I need to return that call, but just cannot right now. She is not going to care much at all about me leaving.  She will care that she has to find another EBD teacher this summer.

I am in a state of grievous shock right now.  Even so, I did the absolute right thing.  I will continue to advocate as I always have.  My audience has simply changed.

My blogging will continue as I have just gotten started. We have so much more to share, to explore and to bitch about, don't we?

I can only imagine what cleaning out my classroom will bring to the surface.

Thank goodness I have therapy scheduled today!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Statements

Let me introduce you to a woman I  respect greatly.  Not only for her personal journey, but for her clear and consistent common sense message.

What brings me to this introduction is yesterday's post.  I mentioned 'I' statements the kindergarden teacher was using and was reminded of a great piece written by Jane Bluestein about how bogus the 'I' statement  concept is.

Check out Jane's website.  Read what she offers up.  So much of it is free and easily accessed.  All of it is relevant, true, and right on.

I want to be like her when I grow up.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Poor Ben

Just spent a frustrating half hour watching a show called Kindergarden on HBOF-W.  Original showing was in 2001 and all I can say is I hope to hell the teacher on the show is no longer teaching.   Poor Ben.  This little guy was adorable and just needed a teacher who understood.

My God, all she did was 'Blah, blah, blah, bah blah". And so much of it was all about her.  "I am so disappointed.  I am having trouble teaching with you in the room."  Was she trying to use 'I' statements?  Did she think that would help out this little guy?  She was also big on pulling Ben out of the group and timing him out.  No reteaching, no examples, no engaging Ben in positive activities, no practicing with his peers.  Just a bunch of lecturing and demeaning scolds.  And to top it off she sent a horribly nasty note home with Ben to his parents about how nasty he was that day after he had to meet with the principal!  Are you kidding me?  From where I sat, Ben was just a little short on impulse control.  He was sweet, and seemed genuinely confused.  He was not hurtful.  He was annoying, but not hurtful.  He was smart and personable and just a regular little kindergardener trying to figure it out and get along.

Here is the perfect example of a teacher thinking that if the student could repeat back what the right choice would be, he could follow through and actually do the right thing.  Some kids can give you the right answer all the time and put that into action.  Other kids can give you the right answer but cannot walk the talk. Some kids know the right thing to do and do it. Some know the right thing to do and WON'T do it. Some kids know the right thing to do and CAN'T do it.  Some kids don't know what to do. 

Turning what one knows to be the right choice into action is really hard for some kids.  It's our job to figure it out why and then how to help them along.

The absolute wrong thing to do is to talk, talk, talk and use guilt and personal disappointment as the motivator.  You run the risk of kids internalizing all sorts of negative things about themselves.  Once a kiddo starts believing there is something wrong with him/her, you have a long and hard road to changing that belief.  And it is from that belief that many more wrong choices are made.  This is a horrible thing to do to a kindergardener who is actually doing his best.

So, why am I so agitated by this?  All the rage is bubbling up again.  We make so many mistakes with kids and then consequence them for not turning out like we think they should.  

I guess it is simply the injustice of it all that gets me.  Way too much of this going on.

Let's be more careful out there, people.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Slowly Disengaging and Coming to Terms

This morning I got a call from my dear friend and best paraprofessonal ever.  She is my soul sister.  Sister is my age, feisty, smart, caring, and dedicated. I love her.

So, she asks if we can go out to celebrate.  I asked what we were celebrating and she replied we should celebrate me coming back.  I told her that was not the case, but I have not made it official as of yet.  She was a true friend and supported me... but as her true self told me to shit or get off the pot.  She is right, of course.

She catches me up about school stuff, especially about my favorite ever student.  He was in a world of hurt all year.  Anyway, Sister says she stayed connected to him all year despite the disproval of the teacher and other paraprofessional in EBDland.  I was glad to hear that she worked her magic as often as she could throughout the year.  But it was hard on her.  Very hard on her.  Luckily she only works afternoons so could swoop in like a breath of fresh air every single day.  And she was a breath of fresh air.  Every single day.

She fills me in more about how the year went.  How fiercely she and favorite student ever hugged and cried the last day of school.  I think he knows he won't be back.  I think he knows his days in his second home are over.  I think he knows he is walking out the door alone to face whatever condition the district has in mind for him.  And it is certainly not in his best interest.  

I feel so guilty.  I wonder if things would not have gotten so bad if I had stayed.  If he could have stayed through 6th grade, just one more year, if I had stayed.  I abandoned him.  I hope he forgives me.

Or maybe I am full of delusions of grandeur and he would have been in this much trouble regardless of who was in charge of EBDland.  He has so much to deal with in his young life.  But I would have been there to love him, to provide a safe place for him, to help him work through some of it all, to help fill some of the gaping holes in his psyche.  To just be a safe place.  He needs a safe place.

And so do I.  And it is not as EBD teacher in a dysfunctional crazy making system.

But how are others coping?  Why can't I?  

Thursday, June 24, 2010

And One More For My Bag of Affirmations

OK, last night was lovely.  I had a great session with my therapist about my kids and then met a wonderful friend for  a long dinner over a bottle of wine and some fondue.  We talked about my decision to leave EBDland and try working with teachers in training.  I expressed I was feeling quite certain and the thought of running for the local school board is sooo sweet for so many vengeful reasons.

Today I get up and do all the things I do after sending Movie Man off to summer school.  There was very little drama today.  Thank. You. Universe!

I carry a cup of heavily creamed java to my bedroom, crawl back in bed and read a novel.  I won't lie.  I dozed.  Right after lunch it was off to Social Thinkers Group with Superman.  

And then I bumped into a fellow special education teacher over the bin of potatoes at the neighborhood grocery.  I love this woman.  She saved Superman this year.  A remarkable teacher.  Anyway, she shared with me that the very special education administrator that caused all my pain and suffering is being reassigned back to the very schools that they took her out of last year.

And that is when the always- there- but- dormant- for- the- day- stuff boiled up and over.  I mean from deep down under the extra three rolls of fat I am storing around my belly.  It stabs and claws its way up through my heart, spins around my brain, snags on emotions, and implants rage.  Angry hot rage that I cannot let go of without a xanax.  

What the fuck.  Sorry, but what the fuck?  I am experiencing such a huge disconnect.  Someone please help me out here.  

This woman is mean, worthless, has no real experience, no useful knowledge base and is hurtful.  She is also stupid.  Yet she sits in a nice office, pulls in a great salary, and goes through each and every day believing she is good at what she does.  Since she still has her job, any outsider would assume she has it because she is effective, knowledgeable, and real leadership material.

But she is not!  She is not.  She is not. 

And here is what scares me.  The remarkable teacher who saved Superman this year wants to leave her position at Superman's school to avoid being victimized again by the particular administrator.

This is wrong.  So very wrong.

I am outraged at the injustice of this.

I am really so tired of the world as it is.  I don't feel there is any hope.

...........but I have one more affirmation in my bag that leaving is the right thing to do.

And I just feel sick tonight.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On The Home Front

Summer is here.  The kitchen is open 24/7.  Soggy pool towels and swimming trunks litter the kitchen and bedroom floors.  The dog is smellier.   New reasons to loathe my body as more parts are exposed because wearing a wool sweater to the pool doesn't work.  The noise level is much increased as the boys are annoying each other for sport.  

Movie Man hit a wall when summer school started.  It was ugly.  His anxiety is debilitating and as his mother it is time to find more aggressive and therapeutic approaches to relieve his pain.  I signed him up for two summer school classes at the middle school he will attending next fall.  The thought was that time spent this summer in his new school would help alleviate some anxiety in the fall.  I carefully chose nonacademic classes so he could find ways to shine and demonstrate his love and knowledge of things he has skills.  So Movie Man is taking Leadership in Film and Digital Editing.  Perfect for him, right?

Nope.  Hub and I have had to literally pull him out of bed, carry him to the shower, put him in the shower and dress him more than once.  Movie Man gets so irrational he is unable to even express his worries.  It is all just a bundle of intensely uncomfortable feelings he has no language for, no maturity to understand.  All he knows is that he has to fly.  Adapt, move on or die.  Flight or fight.  Hide under your bed, make outrageous emotionally charged statements in hopes your parents will feel so sorry for you they will let you quit or run away.  

Well, none of it worked.  While my heart broke for him, I knew I had to see him through it to the the other side.  I had to show him I believed he would be OK.  I had to show him he could do it.  

So after days of very troubled and upsetting mornings, he now goes off to summer school barely on time, but anxiety free.  With patient persistence and acute observation and quick calls to his teachers to check in so we could correct Movie Man's perceptions of what was going on, we were able to learn more about Movie Man.  His learning disability and processing speed make him feel he is going to miss important information.  And he does miss important information.  But once he has the information he needs, he is very capable, insightful and a wonderful contributor to his classes.  It is that space between what the teacher says and when Movie Man is supposed to respond or perform that he gets lost in the abyss of anxiety.  The anxiety then makes it impossible to listen and understand.  The cycle is relentless.  It is debilitating.  It is paralyzing.

Add to the summer to do list.... get a good cognitive behavioral therapist for Movie Man and a good pediatric psych for a medication consultation.

Superman is now taking piano lessons from a lady in the neighborhood.  He looks so absolutely autistic when taking his piano lessons.  Parent Smackdown!  All that autism affect kicks in when he is in a new place and it is not pleasant to watch.  But, I am learning how to help him.  I sit next to him in his lessons and the teacher is a dear.  She is willing to stick with it, wants to learn how to help him, and is very flexible.  I love the methods she uses and we are sticking with it.  30 minutes is too long.  So I take the visual timer with us to the lessons and set it for 20 minutes and put it on the piano.  We practice in bits and pieces throughout the day in short little blips.  I have learned that once Superman is shown what to do, he does it flawlessly.  It will be slow going.  It will be challenging. We will all benefit.

And best of all... Movie Man and Superman can be left alone for up to 2 hours!!!!!  Oh the freedom!  

I am off to lunch with my best friend.  The boys are engrossed in making a movie.  I know they will call me a hundred times while I am away.  That's OK.  We are clearly moving forward and that is cause for real celebration.

Affirmation and Fanning My Little Flame

I went to visitation for a teacher pal's father. This man was a great guy, fought the fought, lived a full life, and produced one of the best teachers I know.  May he rest in peace.

Since my teacher pal is wildly popular, well loved and a lifelong local gal, going to the visitation necessitated I spend time chit chatting and catching up with my colleagues.  How many times was I asked if I was coming back?  How many times did I say I was uncertain?  What a liar!  I know full well I am not going back.

There.  I said it.  I meant it. I mean it still today.

The content of the chit chat and catching up was affirmation I have made the right decision.  It is the same old crap as when I left.
Only worse.

Many of my pals were scheduled to spend two days in an expensive training for PBIS.  Another fad recipe approach to school wide behavior management.  Check it out if you like. It is simply common sense marketed. Expensive in dollars as well as time.

By now you all know I don't cotton to any recipe (even in my kitchen) excepting Social Thinking as that is truly a gifted program for kids on the spectrum when used appropriately.  This resistance to following a recipe may be a real fault at times.  But it serves me well as a teacher.  I take time to know my kids.  I take time to understand their strengths.  I take time to build meaningful relationships with each of them.  I constantly gather thoughts, opinions, information, theories, strategies, tools, methodologies that might help the kids.

EBD kiddos have a multitude of issues.  Learning, behavioral, self-regulatory, emotional, and comorbidity or mental health issues.  They are not comfortable at school.  They are not comfortable at home.  They are not comfortable with peers.  They are not comfortable in their own skin.

My job is to make them comfortable enough to learn.  We all know that the learner is most effective when they are calm, comfortable, feeling safe, are not in states of deprivation, and believe they can learn.  Manipulating them to conform through points and levels does not make them feel safe. 

Learning is risky business.  

So, back to PBIS.  How does that help the kids on the fringe?  It doesn't.  But, that is what my district has decided to do with stimulus money.

So there is one issue.  Another is that they have yet to figure out what to do with my favorite student of all time.  Director tells principal that he is taking the lead on this one.  HUH?  Where has he been all year?

And another issue is that the district has decided to start a ONE YEAR EBD program in one of the elementary schools.  Really?  I suspect they are just trying to find a place to put my favorite student of all time for the one year remaining before middle school.  They don't know what they are calling this program, what its purpose will be and who it will serve.

I could go on and on.  I will spare you.  Bottom line is that we are victims of very poor management.  The mediocre top keeps recruiting and promoting the mediocre underlings to join them downtown.  Mediocrity breeds mediocrity but that mediocrity expects perfection from teachers and students per high stakes testing scores.

Too much wrong, too late in the game, too many kids being left behind.  Public schools aren't any longer what they were intended to be.  I, for one, am not going to let them go down without a huge fight.  We can do this, people  We can make public schools what they should be.  We can. 

We have to.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Out Of The Mouth Of A Retired (Thank God) Teacher

A retired teacher I know as an acquaintance threw her two cents at me when I said I was going to run for the school board once I resign from my teaching position.  

Here is what came out of her mouth and I was rendered speechless.

"You absolutely will have to do something about the migrant kids that leave school for 6 weeks every year to go visit their families in Mexico.  They should all be retained. They don't do any work while they are gone and come back very behind.  You can't catch them up."

This came out of the mouth of a retired MUSIC teacher!  What the hell does she care?  Were those kids ever so far behind in her music classes it out her under duress when they came back?  Why is this such a burning issue for her?  Why such anger and disgust?

So, I pondered this all night.  This morning I decided what I would do if I were Queen of the School District.

First, I would make sure we all understand and honor different cultural needs regarding family obligation and traditions.
Second, I would get the ELL administrators and lead teachers to help me out from this point on.
Third, I would meet with a handful of teachers who are dealing with this issue and learn what they find to be most problematic.
Third, I would ask all of the above what they see as possible solutions... without monetary restraints.
Fourth, I would try to start a summer school program specifically for this group of students where they could get ongoing academic boosts, reteaches, ELL support.
Fifth, I would ask our district ELL experts to provide supports to parents before and after the yearly trips to Mexico.

I am absolutely sure this would be met with arguing, nay sayers, and can't do its.

I am ready for the fight.

Bring it on.

You can't scare me.  I was in EBDland for 18 years.

We need to do right by our students.  Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fuel For The Fire And I Am Only Gonna Get Louder and More in Their Faces

Fueled by my frustration, no, outrage!, at all that happened in EBDland last year as well as working with an exceptional therapist, I am no longer on the fence.

I have been reading Alfie Kohn (my absolute education soulmate) and reflecting on what happened to my program in my absence.  I was hoping to find some tidbit that supported what was done in my absence.  I was really hoping to find some kernel, some nugget of support for what happened.  Just ONE bit that would explain why my replacement used the tactics she did and why on earth my principal supported it.

You may ask why I would be doing this. Well, I am trying to embrace differences in teaching styles, trying to make peace with what happened, even entertaining the idea that I don't know everything.  I know.  BIG step for me.  

Long story short.  Alfie set me straight and confirmed that my replacement teacher was full of shit.

What brought me here?  

I went to the neighborhood pool last week with my own kids.  Since the school I teach in is in one of the neighborhoods this pool services, I usually see many kids I know.  I ignore other people's kids unless they approach me.

So, I get approached.  BY MY ALL TIME VERY FAVORITE STUDENT.  This kid and I have been together since he was a first grader.  He just finished 5th grade.  And we all know how much life goes on between first and 6th grade. Favorite Kid is deeply disturbed, a budding schizophrenic (like his father), very bright (unlike his developmentally disabled and mentally ill mother), paranoid, abused, neglected, and likely to flashback in times of stress.  He cannot read, but is a math wizard.  He is an incredible problem solver and has a heart as big as the state of Texas when he feels safe.  He is also as mean as a snake and oppositional defiant.  But I love this kid.  I am devoted to this kid.  My heart breaks for this kid.  I have called social services on his behalf so many times I lost count.

Favorite Kid sits right down next to me and says, "I thought I recognized the back of your head."  HA!  It did occur to me that on a bad day if he had a projectile, that would not be so good of a thing, to recognize the back of my head.   Anyway, we chat.  No eye contact.  No surprise.  But he is sitting on his right hand as if he is hiding something.  I don't point that out, we just chat about the school year, how it went, what next year might bring.  If I am coming back. If he is coming back.  As he relaxes, his right hand comes out of hiding and it is in a big white bandage.  As I chat without comment regarding the hand, he starts unwinding the bandage and exposes a tear in his palm and it is sporting 5 stitches. So I casually ask what happened and he says, "My mom hit me with the broom when I tried to take a sip of her beer."

WHAT!?!?!?  And social services knows this. And social services reports they are all tapped out with this family.  WHAT!?!?!?!  HUH?!?!?!?  How about we remove the kids from their home?  Why didn't they do this 3 years ago when all hell was breaking loose and mom was bringing strange men home and these men were doing things to Favorite Kid and his little sister?

Anyway, Favorite Kid also tells me he thinks he is going to end up at a different school and will probably have to repeat 5th grade.

WHAT!?!?!?!  Repeat 5th grade and they also left him with a whole summer to wonder what the hell is going to happen to him next fall!  Are you kidding me? Is that remotely humane, fair or sensitive to his mental health needs?

I asked him why he thought all those things might happen. He matter-of-factly said that he didn't do any work at all.  All year.  He said there was no way he was gonna do anything just for points that earn him recess.

Enter Alfie Kohn.  His excellent book about the dangers of rewards, the actual harm programs based on tokens and rewards cause, is my bible.  Favorite Kid could be the poster child for all Alfie Kohn has figured out about reward systems.

So, what happened in EBDland with Favorite Kid is the total responsibility of the adults, not Favorite Kid's.  So, because the adults use the absolute wrong approach, did not assess and then reassess his response to a very wrong and counter productive approach this kid is going to suffer life altering consequences.

Because all the adults in his life made repeated bad calls... let's retain the kid, put him in a different program in a different school, never let him out for recess, keep him isolated from his peer group. Yeah, we'll show him!  That will make him straighten up!  That will fix his wagon!  He'll think twice about messing with us next time he wants to be noncompliant by refusing to do that worksheet in front of him.... Favortie Kid will very likely never recover and become yet another horrible statistic in the world of metal health and the prison system.

So, can I go back to that shit?  Can I possibly find my way back to that dysfunction?

No.  I am way too angry.  I will effect change by bringing these stories to  teachers in training.  I will bring change by securing a position on the district school board.  I will have a much louder and clearer voice on such issues outside of the dysfunction.

No more fence sitting.  Letter of resignation in the works and will be delivered by the end of the month.

And, no, I am not done with public education.  I am not done trying to make things right.  

Oh no, I have just begun.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Or Not....

Someone please help me out here!  OK, I am in therapy AND I am still all over the map.  I obviously need more than therapy.  This is the first time in my life I have been so indecisive, so emotionally bogged down, so lacking in confidence about making the right choice.

Here is all the feedback I have been getting and my interpretations.

1.  Got my first tattoo and love it, feel more connected to the most unconditionally loving person from my childhood.  The rosebush that I dug up from her yard after she died is in full and glorious bloom outside my dining room window.  This is a miracle, peeps, because she was dead three years ago and plucked from her fertile bed and tossed behind a bush where she lay dormant for a full year and then was reborn.  No lie.

She loved little red birds, so I had this one designed in her honor.

Rosebush back from the dead.  Really!

Interpretation.... dead grandma is celebrating my decision to leave EBDland.

2.  Got ignored for two weeks by university when I asked when I might get an official offer and a contract.

Interpretation.... they don't really want me and don't care enough to treat me like a professional person so I should NOT leave EBDland.

3.  Got email from University after 2 weeks with a lame explanation of how long these things take and that they are waiting on enrollment and money before making offers final,  but here are examples of the syllabi and the titles of the texts for the classes.

Interpretation...Oh NO!   By the end of summer they will not be offering me a contract because we all know the world will be ending soon, there is no money and I won't have an income next year so I need to say NO to university and stay in EBDland.

4.  Get an email from principal inviting me to special ed scheduling for next year meetings.  I agree to go, show up, get weird vibe from principal, many hugs and confirmation from fellow teachers that they are relieved I am coming back.  EBDland has been trashed in my absence.

Intepretation.... I am meant to be here, my work is not finished in EBDland.

5.  Sit through said meeting and leave feeling very, very ill.  Take a nap upon arriving home.


6.  Meet with university friend of many years.  He assures me the secretary who sent me the email does not have the whole picture, there will be plenty of work at university, my name is thrown around ( in a good way) all the time, this is what I need to do, many doors and  opportunities will present once I get started.  He went on and on about all the pluses and reminds me of what a wreck I was for the last 2 years in EBDland.

Interpretation.... Get the hell out of EBDland.  Once I let go and fully embrace this next stage in my career lots of good will happen.

7. I attend second scheduling meeting and although I love good teacher banter and had a good time surrounded by my colleagues (who I love so dearly), I left feeling ill and full of memories of how dreadful much of my job was and will continue to be.

Interpretation.... Get the hell out of EBDland... maybe.  I miss the collegiality.  Desperately.

8.  Go to a psychic for a quick 15 minute read (took my new college grad niece for a long reading at her request for one of her graduation presents) and within seconds was told my work is not yet done in special ed.

Interpretation... my first inclination is that I need to go back to EBDland.  But after a few days realize I would still be in special ed at university.

9.  Tell my family I think I am staying in EBDland.  They all gasp.  Some rant, some look very worried, some refuse to speak to me about it.  No one cheered in favor.

Interpretation... those who love me want me sane and safe and clearly believe that cannot happen in EBDland.  I should listen to them because I cannot hear my own self.

10.  Go to therapy.  After much questioning (hard questions were posed, people) and honest answering ensued.  Walked out knowing in my heart I need to write the resignation letter.

Interpretation... I need to commit to one thing or another and I most likely need to embrace a new day dawning, a new career direction.  It is time.

But wait!  Part time at university does not allow for payment into my retirement.  My salary would be so very low.

But wait!  I would have more time to ponder, to explore other options.  Would be exposed to things I don't even know about today.  Would have more flexibility in my schedule to still have coffee and lunch with new dear friends.  Would have time for my own kids that life in EBDland does not allow.  And as my university pal said... it is only part time first semester, maybe second.  Being there will ensure eventual full time work if I want it.

I think what is holding me back is my grief about the loss of my EBDland identity.  18 years is a long time.

I have walked away from other EBDland jobs without looking back.

The difference is I always walked right into another EBDland job.

This is the hardest thing I have ever done.