Tuesday, March 11, 2014


March 11, 2014


I'm leaving teaching.

I'm leaving teaching so that I can grow things.

I'm going to grow things, to see if I can feed us.

Growing things, feeding us—feeding others—is, for me, a lot like teaching. Growing things, feeding others and teaching are all acts of hope.  They are all acts of love. They all say, "I believe in something bigger than myself, bigger than right now, bigger than what is. I believe in what can be."  Growing things, feeding others and teaching all ask us to look at the world in a more benevolent light.  It has always been impossible for me to look at my eighth graders (even on the days I want to choke them) and not think, "They will do amazing things."  It has always been equally impossible for me not to lose myself in the single moments of cooking for others, in the single moments that make up the whole of a garden.  Impossible for me not to think about the beauty that exists in the ingredients spread out before me, and the alchemy that happens when they combine.  Kind of like the alchemy that happens when a student is paired with a just-right book.  These moments, when I stop and pause and think about them, remind me that in spite of what I read in the paper or see on the news, people are amazing. Life is amazing. And that gives me hope.


I'm leaving teaching.

I'm leaving teaching, and it is so momentous, it has taken five years for me to realize that it is necessary, and two to bend my brain around the fact that it has to happen.

I'm leaving teaching, and it is so momentous, I don't quite have a fully-formulated answer to, "But what will you do?" I have been a teacher for 21 years.  I once thought that I would teach until I die.  "'Teacher" is part of my definition of myself.


I can't stay.  I can't be part of what I'm being asked to do to students.  Every fiber of my being is opposed to standardization (in food and plants, too).  Every cell in my body shrieks as I sit through mind-numbing meeting after mind-numbing meeting about "data."  There are more and more of these meetings, as we seek to quantify the unquantifiable.

It's not data.  They are kids.  They are people, not percentiles.

And I can't do it anymore.


I'm leaving teaching.

I'm leaving teaching so that I can grow things.
Because growing things and teaching are both acts of hopefulness.

I suspect my learning curve will be an almost vertical line.  But learning is an act of hopefulness, too.
And though my heart is broken and my brain still doesn't fully comprehend, I am hopeful.

Photo: Beginning.


Nicki Landaker said...

I love how you write. I'm also so super proud of you. ♡

Christine said...

Thanks, Nicki. :)

Jennifer Van Gelder said...

As a parent, I'm sad to see teachers like you go. But as a friend, I'm glad to see you move on to growing in new ways. And changing how you define yourself takes time (trust me, still working on it) but you'll do it. :)

Christine said...

Thanks, Jen. Finally making the leap!

readerlee said...

I have been so sad that you're leaving teaching, but I know that you're not really leaving teaching. You will still learn on your own and learn with others and share your learning. That's teaching. You're going organic. I like it! And I look forward to reading all about.

(Btw, I almost choked when I read that you've been teaching for 21 years. Since I've left the classroom, in my head, my career stays at 15 so I don't get any older. But, yikes! 21! We are, in fact, getting older.)


Christine said...

Lee, Yeah...it's been a long time. :)

Kelli said...

I'm trying not to think about it! :(
But I can't wait to enjoy your growing-things-to-eat endeavors.