Standardized tests. Parent conferences. Grade reports. There are oodles of items that current teachers may look forward to having amnesty from after retirement.
But once the “umbrella drinks on the beach” daydreams fade, we are all a little hazy on just how we will truly feel once retired. What will we really miss, and what will we happily leave behind?
I interviewed my mom, Sharon Slovak, who two years ago retired after 30 years in the classroom. After teaching grades from kindergarten through 12th grade English, she found her niche in upper elementary and spent 24 years teaching 4th – 6th grades. Read on for 10 surprising and enlightening items about teacher retirement.
1. August/September will always feel like the beginning of the year.
Even if you do not have a classroom to ready or a seating chart to prepare, Labor Day weekend will always be your time for personal resolutions and a fresh start.
2. You will love having the entire calendar year to make plans.
After years of traveling only during winter, spring and summer breaks, you will love the freedom of 52 whole weeks in which to visit new places and old friends.
3. You will still find yourself obsessed with school supply sales.
You will not be able to help yourself from pawing through the racks and bins of supplies on sale. However, you will be able to skip the worries of not locating 35 identical copies of your favorite finds.
4. You will miss creating new learning units.
My mother says that she was surprised to realize how much she misses mapping new themes for a class. She did not foresee how much nostalgia she would feel for research, choosing books and artwork, and locating artifacts.
5. You will miss introducing new authors to students.
There are few things as wonderful as watching a student fall in love with reading, become a “groupie” of a new author or excitedly discuss books with you. (My mom says that she now gets her young book lover fix via the grandkids.)
6. You will not miss bells.
With retirement brings the relief of no more ringing running your life, or parceling your time into 47 minute increments.
7. Looking back, the years you had to switch grades ended up being awesome.
Although there is a comfortable groove in teaching the same grade for years at a time, sometimes the school’s need for a teacher to switch grade levels can bring great things. Those years you will stretch your skills and grow professionally, and those benefits will always outweigh the loss of complacency in the end.
8. Being part of a school team was the best community you will ever encounter.
The collaboration and bonds with your fellow teachers are unlike any other professional relationships or friendships you will ever make. Treasure your colleagues “in the trenches” and make every effort to keep in touch with them.
9. You will not be bored!
It is amazing how easily you will be able to fill your time with interesting things after retirement. Whether you move on to a second career, do a little subbing, volunteer, focus on your family or simply take some time to (at long last) relax, you will find that continuing your education in the world outside of K-12 is much easier than you expect.
10. You will always, always miss the students.
My mother said that there was nothing she misses more than the joy of seeing her students every day. She teared up a little as she explained the memories of 30 years of opening a classroom door and finding those smiling faces lined up outside. There’s nothing like that feeling.
How about you? Do you have any retired teacher advice to share? Tell us in the comments!