Saturday, May 24, 2014

Exit: whirlwind trip to Ireland, bracketed by luncheons

Life is change, and we never know what's around the next corner. Even a month before I did it, I had no idea I would soon retire from a job I loved and worked at for over thirty years. My work place was not immune from alteration. Recent drastic cuts were beyond the control of the college itself.  They were driven by decisions made by federal and provincial governments. But that was only part of the reason I decided it was time I left the academic prep ESL program where I worked, grew, learned and developed over a period of years.

I know I'll miss working with  my wonderful students, mature professional adults. I learned many valuable lessons from them as they brushed up their English skills to pursue post-secondary courses and work in Canada. At the same time, over the last several years, it has become increasingly clear that the relentless forward movement of technology is fundamentally altering how we think, learn and communicate.

Whether or not the baby boom generation of teachers is willing to face this reality, such change necessitates radical rethinking about educational methodology, and I believe the necessary alterations need to be made by educators younger than us. Also, for each of us leaving voluntarily, an instructor at the bottom of the seniority list escapes a layoff.

Though I did not consciously plan it that way, the timing of my exit was perfect. It happened when I was on vacation, so I didn't know my last class for what it was until it was over. Then a friend invited me to visit her in Ireland. Just before I headed to the airport, I attended a farewell lunch put on by my college. On my return, in a final act of rebellion against my former long commute to work, I hosted the departmental retirement lunch for three other colleagues and myself.

It's an exciting time as a whole new world opens up before me. Today, my summer job at SFU Southbank began. The new crop of writers is varied and interesting, and I know we are going to have a great time together.

As I enjoy the freedom and flexibility of not having to commute daily to work, or to be constantly on the alert to find interesting material to use in class, I look forward to the thrill of new pursuits and unexpected discoveries. I feel I'm at the cusp of something wonderful.

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