My Final Year of Teaching: A Progress Report

A postcard from the trenches

John Egelkrout
6 min readSep 28, 2022


Photo by British Library on Unsplash

This is my 36th and final year of teaching. I began my teaching career on August 29th, 1987. When I started teaching, Ronald Reagan was president. People went to places like Blockbuster to rent movies to play on their video cassette recorders (VCRs). The Apple IIe was making its way into classrooms, even though there was no internet yet. Students saved their work on 5-inch floppy disks. There were no cell phones or email. In the classroom, we primarily used chalkboards, though whiteboards with dry-erase markers were beginning to make their way in. Smartboards and streaming were decades away.

It was a different time.

Flash forward to 2022. So much has changed. I am no longer that new 29-year-old teacher taking command of my first classroom. I am a 64-year-old teacher in my final year. My reddish-brown beard is now grayish-white, as is what’s left of the hair on my head. My skin has wrinkles.

I always knew this year would come, but I thought it would take longer.

I had originally planned to stop teaching at the end of last school year, but my principal asked if I would be willing to teach one more year. The teacher shortage hits schools like ours particularly hard. Not many people are interested in teaching in the inner city in a behavioral referral school.

I told him I would. One last dance.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The start of the school year

We are an “early start” school, which means we had our first in-service days the first week of August. The students returned on August 15th. To be honest, I was not looking forward to returning to our building. We have no air conditioning, and with outdoor temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, it can be a real sweat box in the classrooms.

I had forgotten how much a person can sweat in a day in a classroom without air conditioning. Every day for the first few weeks, I would leave school at the end of the day with all of my clothes damp with sweat. I drank water constantly in an effort to stay…



John Egelkrout

I am a former teacher who works a small organic farm with my wife. I write about politics, education, social issues and a variety of other topics..