Not a Goodbye
Friday, June 28th was my last day at Mayfield Elementary.
I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal. I thought I would hold it together way better than I did. When a school year ends I am not usually the person who is crying over kids moving on. I am usually excited about what’s next. What’s coming up in the summer? Who are the kids coming into my grade one class next year? I love the idea of a fresh start and I love re-evaluating my plans and goals in July, September and January.
But you guys, Friday wasn’t easy.
Actually, Tuesday wasn’t easy. We have an amazing admin team at Mayfield. We spent Tuesday afternoon together focusing on our individual and group strengths, building people up, and planning for next year. I was facilitating activities based on Brene Brown’s BRAVING inventory. For those of you who don’t know her work, BRAVING stands for Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-Judgement, and Generosity and if you haven’t read her book, Dare to Lead, I highly recommend it.
Tuesday wasn’t easy because as our work that afternoon continued, as people were sharing stories about what makes our team strong, as people were being vulnerable about areas they find challenging, I recognized this was the time I had to tell these people who I have worked so closely with. I couldn’t wait until Friday when the news of my departure was shared officially. I had to be brave and as Brene would say I had to “choose courage over comfort”. So I told them. We didn’t quite end on the high note I was planning on for the afternoon. Change is hard, but I am so grateful to every person there for telling me I am ready for what comes next.
Now that I think about it, Thursday wasn’t so great either. On Thursday, I chose to tell my elementary team, as well as the team I was slated to work with next year, of my departure. Many of these people I have worked closely with for the last four years. There are quite a few people I depend on, who are there when I need to talk about the ridiculously entertaining things happening in grade one or when I need to vent about my parenting frustrations. We are a solid team and there was no way I was letting them find out in a group announcement on Friday. Yep, Thursday wasn’t so great.
But you guys, Friday wasn’t easy.
I walked into that building… and I was crying. A friend handed me a card and a coffee… and I was crying. I spent time with my team and learned about the support they had provided for each other after finding out…and I was crying. Remember how I said I’m not usually the person crying? Well, this year is an exception. I am excited about what’s next, but change is hard.
Throughout our end of year staff meeting I had to look away from Maureen, our principal, repeatedly while she was saying “not good-bye” to other staff members who are moving on to other roles. After the last one, I reached for a tissue and Maureen said “Bring me one of those.” That was it, the flood gates were washed away. As I walked up to Maureen with that tissue, I started sobbing… like body shaking kind of sobbing. As we stood there hugging and crying I definitely managed to snort into the microphone and people probably thought something really terrible had happened in my family.
That’s not why I was crying. Nothing terrible has happened to my family. In fact, something incredible is happening for my family. I was crying so much I didn’t even really hear all the nice things Maureen had to say about me (damnit!)
On Friday, I was crying because I was saying “not good-bye” to my people. To my colleagues. To my friends. To the principal who has been my champion from the day I stepped into that school, and really well before that. I was crying because I was saying “not goodbye” to Edmonton Public School Board and what could have been. I was crying because I was saying “not good-bye” to being a teacher. I’m not entirely sure what comes next for my career.
You guys, that Friday wasn’t easy. But as hard as all of those “not good-byes” were. I am so excited about what comes next.