In front of the John Lennon Wall in Prague.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Room 31

After 23 years teaching Reading and  Language Arts to more 7th and 8th graders than I want to count, I am hanging up my teacher shoes.  I began my career in this very room in 1991.  As the years of my teaching life piled up, I thought I'd spend my entire time as an educator right here in Room 31.  Then a new opportunity came my way, and I decided to leave the classroom for a new career path.  What happened to change my mind?  I haven't really figured that out just yet.  Maybe summer vacation will reveal the answer.  Maybe not.  Maybe it doesn't matter.  Perhaps some changes just don't need explanation.

In any case, when August comes, instead of standing at the door to Room 31 to greet a fresh bunch of middle schools students, I'll start my new job as a district English Coach working with teachers to help them with their own students.    

Saying goodbye to this dusty old classroom with peeling window paint and rickety furniture older than my career is bittersweet.  Being teacher has been so much a part of my identity for so many years that I'm nervous about who I will be and become.  I'm like one of my eighth graders going off to high school.

And of course all this uncertainty has come out in writing.  Here are some haikus about how it feels to end this part of my life:

twenty-three years one
classroom time to close the door
step into unknown

Steinbeck: teaching great
art melding mind and spirit
what will stir me now?

eight more days to teach 
asked my friend what will I be
poet she replied

paper folders books 
paper folders books all packed
now to say goodbye


  1. Wow! Brava for taking the leap. Coincidentally, I am also making a change in my professional life and, like you, stepping into the "unknown" - with nervousness and curiosity. I look forward to comparing notes:) x Martha

    1. Martha, thank you for your Wow! It sounds like you know what I'm going through right now. I can't wait to hear more about your own "unknown."
      Good luck to you, Lisa

  2. Good luck next year Ms. Rizzo! Although it did make my dad even more sad (today was my last day of instruction and I'm really sad that high school is ending). I'm really sentimental and when I go back somewhere and see that things have changed it makes me sad. I walked by good old Room 31 when I visited Ben on a Sunday in November and it was so nice to see that the room hasn't changed. I even took a picture of it! Ben will be losing one of the great teachers I had the luck of having in my two short years there. I was hoping to visit and see you and what ever other teachers I had that are left when I move back north next year, but I guess now there will be one less familiar face to say hi to. Again, I wish you the best in the future and I hope everything is well!

    Juan Zitara
    BF c/o 2010

    1. Juan, How nice to hear from you! Thank you for your very sweet comment. It's not a bad thing to be sentimental - I'm very sentimental myself! Even though things have changed, you still have your wonderful memories - just as I remember YOU! I would love to see you if you do come back to the Bay Area (I didn't realize you had moved). If so, you know how to get in touch and you can see me in my room at TRP.

      XOXO Ms. Rizzo