So I got my Act 48 Expiration Notice in the mail over the weekend. I knew what it was even before I opened it. A slim little envelope telling me that unless I get my ass in gear, I won’t be able to teach in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania anymore.
I ended the last school year about 25 hours shy of completing this professional development requirement. It’s supposed to ensure that teachers stay current with all of the latest gimmicks and techniques with which to serve up the “meatloaf” of grammar and such to hungry, eager-to-learn students everywhere. Most of the time it’s an excuse to get a day off from teaching, sit in a room with about 50 other haggard-looking educators wearing nametags and eating stale Danish while you listen to an ex-teacher, who finally climbed out of the hole of educating to become an administrator, drone on about the newest, “funnest” way to teach diagramming to 5th graders. Most of the time the information is out-of-date or a re-hash of the conference you attended two years ago. Except where before they were preaching “Whole Language” now they’re preaching “Phonics” as the way to go.
Okay, I might be exaggerating just a little. But just a little.
As I slipped the thin paper back into its envelope, it almost felt like letting go. I couldn’t bring myself to throw the thing away, not entirely let go, but I did put it back into its envelope and tuck it into my “to be filed” stack. It felt like releasing a balloon. You can watch it float up and away out of your grasp, but for at least a little while you can still see it and if you jump high enough, you might even be able to catch it back again.
I’m watching this balloon float away, and at the same time my breath is being released out of my lungs like a drained tire. It’s a strange feeling. I like the calm it’s bringing, but not the finality. I have to admit there are still many things about teaching that I miss. But not enough to let go of that damn balloon.
I have to admit I like the clause in this notice that said that while I could not legally teach in a public school until I become compliant with Act 48, I COULD BE AN ADMINISTRATOR————-for at least 90 days. The mind reels.