Saturday, March 25, 2017


I have been a teacher for 36 years.  A long, long time.

And I have loved it. Pretty much every minute.

But now I am wondering whether it's time to go.

Life at my school has changed dramatically. The principal who hired me retired a few weeks ago, very unexpectedly. The district has adopted a new model of teacher leadership. Each school is required to have teacher leaders who coach and evaluate. The job is somewhat similar to what I do, with one major exception. I don't evaluate teachers. Nor have I ever really wanted to. For me, the evaluation piece changes the trust I have worked hard to establish with teachers.

I went back and forth on whether I would apply for the teacher leader position. I really love my school. I love my colleagues. I love the kids. I loved my principal. I decided that I would apply so I could stay there. I would just have to do the best I could to use the evaluation system in a way that honored teachers' hard work and growth.

I applied. I interviewed. I wasn't chosen.

And I'm wondering whether it's time to go. I think I'm probably too old, at 58, to be a viable candidate for other positions.

So I'm wondering whether it's time to retire.

And I really don't know.

I don't know what you do when you retire. I have talked to several people about it- one woman, who was a total stranger I met at a meeting, looked at me like I was crazy when I asked what she did every day. Another friend told me she is making plans by volunteering with several different organizations.

I'm still not sure what that means for me.

I have always loved teaching. And it's been a huge part of my life. Before I adopted the boys, I spent a lot of time, pretty much every waking hour, on my job. Since the boys have been grown, I've pretty much resorted to that again. I work a lot. It doesn't feel like work, because I truly love it.

But I don't have lot of outside interests right now. I don't volunteer anywhere, except for stuff that's school or work related, e.g. the state literacy association. I'm hate cooking or and I'm not good at gardening or art. I like to travel, but almost all of my friends are married or in serious relationships and they travel with their husbands. My sons don't want anything to do with me right now.

I don't know what I would do if I retired.

But right now,  I'm wondering if it's time to go…


Dogtrax said...

It weighs on my mind,
so I'm wondering if it's time to go,
and I try to write it this way
and I try to talk it that way
and I turn it over in my hands,
my fingers dancing over the possibilities,
and still, the compass spins,
with me, here, holding this map
of unknown destinations.

--Kevin, lifting a line from your post to build a poem as a comment. I hope you know I read your post seriously and wanted to give you advice, only to fall short. A poem is the gift I could leave.

elsie said...

Carol, you would be surprised at what life sends your way after retiring from full time teaching. There are opportunities to use your knowledge and passion for teaching, they just aren't known yet because you are in the throes of work. Take some time to explore and think about what you want to continue to do. I bet there's a book store you could volunteer at with a mutual friend. Talk to Linda about retirement. Best of luck in what ever decision you make.

Elisabeth Ellington said...

Receiving a poem as a comment is truly a gift! This is such a tough one, Carol. It's hard for me to ever imagine retiring too. What would I do? What Elsie says makes sense to me: surely many more opportunities would open up. But it's so hard to imagine that shift from the working lives we've always known.

Anonymous said...

I hope you find the answers that you are desperately looking for. Sometimes holding so tightly onto the past and present, keeps us from finding possibilities in the future. Good luck!

Linda B said...

Well, each of us is different, and you know I taught until I was much older than you are, Carol. I really was ready to say goodbye. My brother retired earlier with an enticing retirement package, so he wanted to do other things and took it. He's more capable than I am at building things and has rehabbed an old building and opened an antique shop. You know I've gotten very involved in the bookstore and am writing a lot. The days certainly fill. I imagine there is a position you are very qualified to fill in the district. They would love your expertise, and maybe a new school would be renewing for you. Best wishes in your decision!

writekimwrite said...

I just retired after 36 years! ☺It wasn't on my radar when the last school year began. God had another plan. I am excited about what He will bring. HE is showing me some of it. This is the essence...standing by people...young (my work with kids is in my DNA), all the way to older. Different assignments. As a single I have felt isolated at times and see the benefits of being in community, being the body of Christ and being His light to a lost world.. I trust God to provide all the details and we know He is trustworthy! This was the best retirement advice I got and found to be true..."you will know and you won't be afraid." Blessings Carol!

Anonymous said...

I am so happy for you! It does not sound as though you are retiring, though; it sounds as if you are changing career paths. You have much to offer others and will continue to enrich the lives of others. God bless!