I love to skip rocks. There is something about it that mesmerizes me and keeps me trying to get the perfect spin over and over again. The best water to skip rocks on is a smooth pond or lake, or a wide slow moving river. The perfect rock is smooth, about palm-sized, and oval shaped. Its edges need to be worn off and the surface should be flat. It need not be large to have a great impact. My goal is always to see how many skips I can get with one stone. When it skims across the water, it leaves behind ripples for each bounce. The concentric circles roll out getting bigger and bigger as they go. Then the ripples from the first bounce, hit the ones from the second, and so on, and so on. As the river wrinkles onto itself, it stirs the water…causing turbulence.
When I resigned my career I did not consider the ripple effect. I only knew I felt confidence and peace that for me, the time had come to walk away. It was, and still is, out of my comfort zone to do so. It was an act of faith and it was my own attempt to combat the fear that has held me bound for the past few years. Always feeling my job was being held over my head to do things I did not agree with…things that I thought were developmentally detrimental to kids because “they” said I had to. Whoever “they” are. I found that living with duplicity and incongruence within yourself takes a toll. Ultimately, the toll was more than I wanted to pay so I walked.
At the time, I didn’t consider the chord it would strike among so many teachers or the connection to my plight they would feel. It resonated with sooo many. I had no idea that my Goodbye blog would be read by over 2,000 folks in 13 countries within a few short hours. Or that parents of former students would intentionally reach out to let me know how they appreciated what I did for their children over the years. Or that past students would support my decision by writing comments that would make me cry, like this one.
I stand with you. I was most definitely one of those puzzle pieces you worked with back in 3rd grade. Without you and Mrs. Marsh helping me and you working one on one with me I wouldn’t have had made it through the rest. I congratulate you in what you’re standing for. If the school system cannot understand that skills like yours are extremely hard to come by, then they won’t understand why they won’t make it to the end as a successful school. You are one of the few special people that made walking through those doors at 7:30 in the morning Monday through Friday so worth it for me. You helped a scared little girl see the bright beautiful light. Your skills Mrs.Gunnin, they are more like powers. Thank you for your powers. They are mighty.
In stepping down I was just doing what I felt I had to do. I was just working out this painful step I was taking, out loud “on paper” because that is how I process my life, through my written words. Freedom of speech and all that. And truly, what is the point of leaving if you don’t get to express yourself and all the silence you have been bottling up for years?
What I found is that hundreds of people find what I did courageous. I have received emails and messages proclaiming how gutsy I am. How bold I am now that the fear-of-losing-your-job muzzle has been removed and I have found my voice again. People are thanking me for speaking the truth.
I am shocked at the strong and beautiful responses I have received. Some of them have stepped out and started to use their own voices. Some have told me that they are also thinking of resigning and moving in a different direction because what I wrote inspired them. Some have decided to move out of one system into another. It is the ripple effect in action. Some already knew they just needed an infusion of courage in order to take a step. Now their ripples are beginning to roll across the waters. They intersect with mine, which will intersect with yours until the water is stirred up. The surface is no longer smooth. The placid status quo has been interrupted. As the ripples turn to turbulence, waves of change become possible…like a chain reaction.
If my stepping down changes things for others who feel they are trapped, then it was well worth the sacrifice. If it makes those who have to stay bolder to speak the truth, then it was a costly move with an immeasurable return. I go with a sense of profound peace that this is the right thing for me. However, going, and going quietly are two different things. It is my hope that things in education can get better. “They” have been talking about the teacher shortage and the rate young teachers are leaving the classroom. I wonder what “they” will think as the veterans begin jumping ship as well. Without ears that will listen nothing will change, but if we all use our voices, I believe deaf ears can be unplugged. I know that the status quo cannot exist in waters that are stirred…by the ripple effect.