Yesterday morning, I was asked to be Master of Ceremonies at the retirement dinner for our school's outgoing teacher-librarian, which was held last night. It was quite a thrill to be asked, as I am essentially stepping into the guest of honour's shoes next year. I've only known her, and worked with her, since July 2002, and there were people at the function who had known her for much, much longer. It was a chance to show a side of me that my work colleagues rarely see. And from next year, in my new (old) role as teacher-librarian, they'll all have a chance to work with me in collaborative team-teaching situations.
It all went off very well - although, as I told the gathering, most times I MC a function, I'm usually dressed as an Andorian, or some lycra-clad superhero or another and wearing a mask. So, as our teacher-librarian starts a new journey, literally anticipating the commencement of a series of caravan holidays around Australia with her husband, I'm starting yet another part of my journey through my career, which may well be the last major change before my own retirement.
We've had several teachers making farewell speeches. The teacher-librarian last night, a former deputy principal last week (who's been doing casual work for a few years) and several classroom teachers today. they've all talked about the uniqueness of the school, and the many qualities that make working there such a great and rewarding experience. I feel very blessed to have ended up there.
As I was sorting my files today, in preparation for vacating my Year 1/2 classroom to move into the library, I found a wad of hand-scrawled diary entries and "incident reports" concerning a difficult class I'd had several years ago. The numerous, um, "challenging experiences" reminded me of my very first year of permanent teaching, but I guess you have to have years like that, every once in a while, so you know when you've got the next great bunch of students. I was feeling a little low, when one of my current students handed me a Christmas card, written by his mother, which said (in part):
"... I have watched him grow and overcome learning obstacles while he has been under your guidance. You have always been so approachable and have always offered me the information and answers to my worries and questions. Like every parent, my child is my pride and joy and I only want the best for him, so that he can be the best he can be. He got that with you.
"He came home the other week excited. He stated that 'Mr McLean is going to be the librarian [next year] and that means that he is still going to be my teacher on Library Day. I still get to have him!'
"What more could a parent ask for in a teacher?"