The Long Goodbye

Three weeks from tomorrow, when our semester ends, I’ll be leaving my classroom.  For the next year, I’ll be the high school learning consultant for my school division. And I had no idea it would be so hard to leave.

I’ve been in my classroom for seven years; it’s my first classroom. And my students have always left me — that seems to be the proper progression of things.

It hurts to leave my kids. I had no idea it would hurt so much.  I had no idea how deeply this way of learning connects you to your students. And I keep asking myself, “Is this going to be okay? Did I make the right decision?”

I love the idea of a new challenge.  I love the idea of working with other teachers. And my biggest hope is that it will help me to become a much better teacher than I am.  But I know what I’m leaving, and it’s a big loss. I’ve learned so much from my students about teaching and learning and the power of people to make a difference. I love their enthusiasm and honesty, and they’ve been so incredibly gracious while I’ve stumbled around learning this inquiry,  project-based, technology thing.

And I think, partially, it’s hard because I can see my students are afraid too.  Shortly after hearing the news, one of my students came up to me and asked, “the new teacher that we get, are they going to teach the other way? or like you?”  I don’t know. I know what I hope.

But I also know that my students have learned how to ask for what they need, and that will serve them well.  They’ve learned how to learn, how to create, and how to speak up, and they need those skills much more than they need me.

This morning the parent of one of my students came up to me to thank me for all that I’ve done. But the most important words she said when speaking of her son were, “He’s  so appreciative of the way you allowed them to learn.”  And that’s really the key. It’s not what I taught them, but what they were able to learn when given the space to do so.  And that’s what I hope I can share with other teachers in my new position.

During the next year, I’m not sure what this space will become, or what I’ll have to share here that will be of value to other teachers.  I hope something, but if not, it will still be the space where I think and try to grow.

So for the next three weeks, my students and I will struggle with how to say good-bye.


About shelleywright

I love education & learning, which likely explains why I'm a teacher. My areas are ELA, Sr. sciences, and technology. My classroom is best described as a student-centred, tech embedded pbl/inquiry learning environment. Furthermore, I am Buck Institute for Education National Faculty member
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14 Responses to The Long Goodbye

  1. Philip Cummings says:

    Wow. Honestly, while I am happy that you will have a new challenge, I am saddened to think tat you won’t be in the classroom and sharing your experiences there. I just found you and your blog online this past fall and it has really challenged me as I try to reinvent myself as a teacher. (I returned to the classroom full-time in August after 4 years in administration). I wish you the best, but I will miss your honest storytelling and reflections on your efforts to bring authentic inquiry and learning to your students. I will also miss hearing about your efforts to give them a voice and help them make a difference. Thank you for what you have shared here. It really has made a difference to me. I look forward to reading about what the next season of your career brings.

    • Thanks, Philip. I really appreciate your kind words. It was such a hard decision to choose to leave. I know, at some point, I will return to the classroom. i hope, as I move into this new position, I will still have those stories to share. I plan to be in classrooms with teachers and students as much as possible!

  2. Kimberley F says:

    When I left my first school to transfer to another, I felt like I was abandoning my students–my kids and it was a heart breaking at first. It took some time for me to realize that I was also giving them and myself a gift–a new perspective. My students got learn from someone else and with that came new approaches and opinions. For myself, I a new challenge allowed me to challenge my own thinking and in doing so I changed my approach. Becoming a consultant will allow you to influence other teachers in a new way and in doing so affect more students. Change is scary but it can be good for everyone. Good luck in your new adventure and I have a feeling where some of your new blogs will go….

  3. Barbara says:

    I kind of get where you’re coming from, because I worry that I will lose my edge when I retire from the daily interaction with students into the world of consulting and/or coaching. But I also want to say KUDOS to you for the amazing impact that you’ll have in your new job as you mentor and subsequently help shape the other educators who, in turn, will be able to turn kids on to inquiry, reflection, engagement, and spark! I know you’ll miss the kids; I took one year away to do some crisis intervention work and my heart broke every day to not be with kids, especially when that first new year started WITHOUT ME! Give yourself that time to grieve that loss, for sure. But I cannot wait to read about what life has in store for you and for those whom you mentor in your new and exciting position. Be gentle with yourself in the next few weeks of transition.

  4. No question you’ll have some adjustments to make in terms of your role and purpose. Directly impacted students in the way you have is clearly very rewarding and meaningful. The great thing is your new role offers you potential to reach many more students as you work to support multiple teachers.

    You’ll be working with a great team and the one thing I’d offer as advice is to find a couple of teachers early on who are willing to embrace and explore the changes you’ve made over the past year or so. While it won’t be exactly the same, you’ll soon take great pride in knowing you’re helping them in the same way you helped your students. Now the difference is they have the ability to make a difference for dozens of students. It’s a different mindset but potentially just as rewarding.

    I know you’ll do great.

    • Thanks, Dean! I know it will take me awhile to adjust to this new role, and I’m looking forward to how much I’m going to grow because of it. I just had no idea it would be so hard to leave. Thanks for your all of your encouragement! You’re part of the reason I am where I am 🙂

  5. Lindy Buckley says:

    Good luck with the new position, Shelley.
    My colleagues and I have really enjoyed reading your blogs about your inquiry classroom!
    May 2012 be successful for you!

  6. Steve Goldberg says:

    “He’s so appreciative of the way you allowed them to learn.” — what a great thing! Shelley, I’ve loved reading your blog and getting an insight into your classroom. It’s been inspiring to me as I work to start a new school that will be constructivist. When people have a hard time getting their heads around the sort of real world project work I want students to propose and then carry out, I say “well you should check out what Shelley Wright’s students are doing with the issue of modern slavery” and I point them to your blog.

    I’m sure your students will keep in touch virtually, but it won’t be the same as when you were in the classroom with them. And the reason it’s so hard is that your students care — about you and about the learning approach you have allowed them to experience.

    That’s a sign that you’re doing powerful work. I hope you have a wonderful last few weeks with your students, and I look forward to seeing the amazing work you will do in your new role.



    P.S. My son Ben, age 4 and a half, is watching me write this comment and he wanted to let you know that “I like the snowflakes” (from when you had snowflakes coming down on your page)

    • Thanks for your kind words and for sharing my work. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have students who are brave enough to travel this journey with me. Sometimes it’s been chaotic. Sometimes exhilirating, but never boring!

      I have a 4 year-old too, so I had to laugh. She also loves the snow on the blog!

  7. You will no doubt be missed in the classroom, but so many teachers will now be able to benefit from your expertise and willingness to share. I am thankful that you take so much time and care to share with us as well. You’re an inspiration, and I’ve learned so much from you!
    On a side note, my face was wet with tears for hours on that last day in the classroom before moving to administration. Leaky….faucet. 🙂

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