Goodbye Great Expectations

I didn’t realize how much I was carrying when I was working full-time. All the expectations of my job and those of the pandemic were heaped upon me for three years. In an instant, I retired and the work email vanished and so did all the constant contact with my class (on Google Classroom), and the administration. 

Teaching Pre-Pandemic

Teaching is an inherently stressful job.* Just think about any time you’ve organized a birthday party for one of your children and spent days deciding how to entertain the kids for the three hours they’re in your custody.  Now imagine doing that every day for 6 hours with 25 – 30 kids AND the kids have to learn something! It’s a busy job but I did love it, until it became too much. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Teaching During The Pandemic

During the last three years the pressure was intolerable. There were constant work emails and changes in protocols. Pivot! There was worrying about making your students ill or yourself or your family. It was relentless: every hour, weekends included and the summers. It made it difficult to do any consistent planning of lessons because of the frequent unexpected switches from in-person to virtual and back again.  Assessment of learning was a joke because students attended erratically due to covid exposure in their family, and projects and tests were impossible.  We had to keep the students away from each other at recess, lunchtime and in gym. I also taught on Zoom for a year with students attending from our neighbourhood, and from different time zones in India, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. (The technology issues in themselves would fill several pages). We dealt with the students’ stress, their family’s and ours. It was a recipe for workplace-inflicted trauma: the expectations were unrealistic.

Freedom In Retirement

A huge mental burden was lifted the minute my work email was deactivated and the expectations magically disappeared.  Today when I was on the bus,  I realized that I’m also physically without a burden. This is the first time in my life when I haven’t carried a big bag/backpack with me. I am no longer a student with textbooks. I am no longer a parent of a young child carrying a diaper bag. I am no longer a teacher lugging around marking and egg cartons for art. Now, I am me. Free to travel and free of any expectations beyond the ones I choose for myself. Free feels light and wonderful!

How did it feel when you lost your work expectations when you retired?

* I acknowledge that teaching is not the only stressful job that was impacted by the pandemic. I can only give my perspective as a former teacher. To read more about the emotional impact that my job had on me, click here to read, The Empty Tank.

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