December 24, 2021

Michael Flanagan: 16 Days To Retire?

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Teacher Michael Flanagan has figured out how soon he can retire. Now, will he?

I can retire in 16 days.

I have anticipated being able to say that for decades. To have the knowledge that if things got really bad for me, I could put in my papers and walk away.

If things got bad.

It is funny to say that in the middle of this recent surge in a years-long pandemic. With more and more cases happening every day in our schools. Teachers and students you speak to, either having just gotten over Covid, or suddenly absent the next day. Seeing the names on the quarantine list increase exponentially.

IF things got bad?

I know. If things aren’t bad now, I would hate to see them when they are.

I try to articulate why it is so hard. Like I am carrying a hundred pound pack on my back everyday. Or how it feels like I am standing on the ledge of a five story building in the wind, and hoping to just get blown to the roof side, and only break my leg.

But I am usually preaching to the choir that is my fellow educators. It is hard to “out exhaust” people who you know are working and struggling even harder than you are.

Misery loves company, and this place is really crowded.

We are trying. Still pushing for vaccinations, masks, and testing of all students and staff. Advising people to stay home if they are sick. Increasing social emotional awareness. Canceling the holiday parties to help stop the spread. But I still have these stress headaches, and get tired from just lying on the couch.

Is this the new normal? Feels like it.

But—and I know this may sound incredibly hypocritical—but I still love teaching. I have not missed a day of work in five years. I am still trying to be better at my job. I admire my colleagues for their skill and dedication. I respect my administrators for keeping the school running, even though I know what they are going through.

And I want to be there everyday for the kids. They need to see their teachers, and feel like we are a safe harbor in a hurricane. They are victims, exhibiting signs of trauma, and we are their salve.

Read the full essay here.

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