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mshapiro

A humorous look at retirement from teaching

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.... After 40+ years in the classroom there are certain rituals that

accompany retirement. One is emptying your office so that the person who's

had an eye on the campus view outside your window can, at long last, move

in; another is the sudden realization that your carefully labeled course

syllabi and class notes no longer matter a fig. The list goes on and on,

with every item making it clear that you are yesterday's news. It's enough

to give a person the willies. ....

Read guest commentator Sanford Pinsker's humorous look at retirement from

academia in its entirety at:

http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-02-01-04.htm

Sincerely,

--

Dr. Mark H. Shapiro

Editor and Publisher

The Irascible Professor

http://irascibleprofessor.com

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I took early retirement from a full-time university teaching post in 1993. What joy! It was a good deal: a nice lump sum that enabled me to pay off the mortgage and make a few investments, plus an inflation-proved pension. While my colleagues continue to battle for salary rises I simply wait for the notification of the annual pension increase to drop through my letter box.

I had a few tears in my eyes when I finally vacated my room. Most of my accumulated paperwork ended up in the recycling bins. I left a few mementoes to colleagues: lovingly tended pot plants, a collection of (mainly hideous) ornaments donated by visiting teachers from overseas, and books that had gathered dust for years.

What I miss least are the tedious departmental and faculty meetings. I could never concentrate on a meeting for more than a few minutes – even when I was chairing it myself – and I used to play games to pass the time: a good example of such a game can be found at http://www.perkigoth.com/home/kermit/stuff/bullxxxxbingo/

I do miss the students, but I still do a fair amount of external examining and I contribute to regular ICT training workshops for teachers. More importantly, my golf scores have improved and I am now a reasonable downhill skier.

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I retired on health grounds in 2002. There are many things I miss about teaching, but not my bullying headteacher!

I am retraining for counselling, which I am enjoying greatly, though it's expensive!

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I have just moved into a new role as full-time paid President of our state teachers' union (Australia) and will retire at the completion of my term in 4 years. I was a classroom teacher for 35 years and the job has got progressively harder and more stressful and less rewarding in all senses. I DO NOT miss:

Not being constantly verbally, emotionally and phycically abused

Not being permanantly tired, stressed and frustrated

Not being able to take a short break if you are feeling the need of it

Being constantly on one's "best behaviour", being "jolly" all the time

Not being able to call your evenings and weekends your own

Being a slave to bells, timetables and routines

Not being able to go to the loo when you need to

Not being able to have a coffee when you feel like it

I am now living and working like a normal human adult should and earning decent money for it. Until we can make teachimg more attractive, shortages will continue.

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When I retired five years ago, I went on and on about my bittersweet feelings leaving teaching after 30 some years. There were several other retirees being honored that night at the annual school district (k-12) banquet and I was cutting into their time to reminisce and depart. The master of ceremony, a lower grade teacher, came up to the mike and said..."You know, we have to teach in the morning, cut this short." With that, I simply said "OK I'm history!...and walked off the podium. That line got a laugh from the audience most of whom knew little of me beside the fact that I was a history teacher in the high school.

The next day a department colleague and friend said your remarks "lacked a focus" ..."didn't you prepare them?". Indeed I had rehearsed comments, but got emotionally carried away once up there with the significance of this important moment in my life.

The very next year when the art teacher,a woman of few words, retired, she shyly went up to the podium and, with all sincerity, said she needed inspiration of my parting words to get her through the awkward moment. She genuinely believed I had done a good job of expressing the complex emotions of leaving teaching. This comment got a huge laugh and applause from the group. Obviously, she was the only one who thought I had articulated the message. I have not attended a retirement banquet since, though my real excuse is that I have moved to another State, far away.

Edited by Isernia

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The rewards of teaching and encountering educated peers every day is fairly difficult to replace. The single minded nature of creating curriculum or studying a topic you know something about,or at least can fake knowing something about and getting paid cannot be replaced.Now I have to fake knowledge,but I don't get paid and it's not the same.

However,I have found many joyful moments as I have applied myself to interfering in areas which I have no knowledge whatsoever.I am learning about many topics I should have known.

Arrogance is far harder to displace. Being in control is also difficult,but quite entertaining since you have a pension. When you've got your health and a check you are in pretty good shape.

I do feel sorry for those teaching in horrid situations.My heart goes out to them.I was so fortunate and so was my wife. We had wonderful students.But, we also had more attorneys toward the end of our careers. Take any dish,add dirt to it,and you have education with attorneys.

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I left the classroom a few years ago. You could say that I am a full-time e-teacher. Anyway, I spend my day at home producing online educational materials. It is interesting to compare the two jobs. The main thing I miss is the personal interaction with the students and the other teachers. Now the only contact I have with them is via email and forums like this. If I had been younger, I think this would have been a major problem. However, overall, I prefer this new relationship.

The main advantage of being an e-teacher is the freedom to decide on how you spend your time. True, I do work for commercial companies. However, I am very careful about the work I decide to do. Most of the work I do is based on my own creative instincts. This is in direct contrast to being a teacher in a school where you are controlled by timetables, bells, examination systems, government initiatives, etc. Now I just concentrate on teaching and when you can do that, it’s the best job in the world.

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I'm in the same position as John. Occasionally I miss contact with students and with colleagues, but the Internet is my Window on the World.

What finally drove me out of teaching was the mission-statement-oriented-new-management-control-freak mentality of the people in charge of my institution and the increasing flood of b*llsh*t emanating from government departments and their agencies.

My last full-time post in an educational institution was director of the language centre. I was a member of the Senior Management Team – until the institution was restructured, and then I joined the ranks of the second tier of departmental managers.

The crunch came when I was told by my “line manager”(another new irritating term that had just crept into education at the time) to draw up plans for an ambitious revamp of the language centre. I sat down with my staff and spent hours drawing up floor plans, hardware and software lists, budgets, etc. It was a few weeks before the Easter weekend, which coincided with my wife’s 50th birthday, for which I had planned a surprise 5-day trip to Florence. I submitted the plans to my line manager by the appointed deadline, only to be told a couple of days before the weekend trip that the situation had now completely changed and that I should cut the trip short and attend an emergency meeting of departmental managers on the Tuesday following the Easter Monday. I refused to do so, even though there was a hint that any incurred cancellation charges and fees for rebooking flights would be reimbursed by my institution. There was a heated exchange between myself and my line manager, who accused me of shirking my responsibilities. I had the final word. I looked him straight in the eye and said: “Look, I have to live with my wife for another 25 years. I don’t have to live with you.” I then walked out and immediately contacted the personnel officer to see what kind of early retirement deal I could get. It was a good deal. I retired in August of the same year and I have never been happier.

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What finally drove me out of teaching was the mission-statement-oriented-new-management-control-freak mentality of the people in charge of my institution and the increasing flood of b*llsh*t emanating from government departments and their agencies.

It's amazing how often I hear that coming from UK-based teachers (my sister has recently broken out of a College of Education for many of the same reasons). When I taught in the UK at the end of the 1970s/beginning of the 1980s, I always thought that the powers-that-be ought to be a lot more concerned about the adverts in the TES from the 'teachers' escape committee', etc! Imagine if a modern industrial concern was faced with that phenomenon - they'd be a bit daft to just ignore it.

I suppose that line manager could have felt "good, another bit of dead wood cut away". It strikes me, though, that the teachers with the kind of experience that Graham and John seem to have are precisely the kind the systems should be trying to retain …

I'm turning 50 this year, so I suppose I'm in the same category. In general, when I work with younger teachers on IT-based course design, I'm struck by their relative lack of confidence in their abilities, and their fear of innovation. They're usually really at home with the machines … but they're a bit frightened of using them to set other people free. (I realise that this generalisation is a bit too sweeping - I'm not tarring *all* younger teachers with the same brush. I've met some exceptions to this experience too.) It's almost as if they've learned which keys to hit, but they have very little idea why you would want to hit them.

I remember debates about the increasing amount of central control of teachers' lives at the end of the 1970s where people claimed that an increase in central control would ultimately stifle the profession. Were they right?

Edited by David Richardson

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I've been reading posts on the TES staffroom chatline for the past 5-6 years and it is absolutely clear that more and more teachers in the UK are wanting to get out of the profession and are willing to "stack shelves at Tesco's" or go on welfare, rather than teach. Who would have dreamt of that a few decades ago, when teaching was a highly respected profession to which many people aspired and many parents proudly encouraged their offspring in to?

I totally agree with you about what drives them out - not the long hours, not the preparation or marking, but the combination of bureaucratic cr@p, modern style management and under resourcing for challenging behaviour.

Many want out almost as soon as they get in, while older teachers see their energy and enthusiasm sapped by the system.

It's a very sad state of affairs, but I see no answer in the near future.

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Given the nature of the profession these days, and the increasingly clear picture I'm getting of many teachers in their 50's being generally knackered, ill and demotivated, isn't their a strong case for teachers lobbying for changes in the pension scheme? Perhaps we should mirror the experience of the UK police - twenty years service during which you pay relatively large pension contributions but get out before you are able to harm yourself or others ;)

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Given the nature of the profession these days, and the increasingly clear picture I'm getting of many teachers in their 50's being generally knackered, ill and demotivated, isn't their a strong case for teachers lobbying for changes in the pension scheme?

Sounds like a good idea! I got a good deal, however. I paid off my mortgage with part of the lump sum and I now do about around 50 days consultancy work per year, which in combination with my pension brings my net income up to a higher level than it was when I was in full-time teaching!

I got out before I became completely knackered. I have learned to ski and reached a level where I can tackle the occasional black run. I also play golf whenever the weather is fine - just had a good game today, playing to only 2 over my handicap and comfortably beating a lad of 19. Not bad for a 61-year-old, eh?

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Sounds like a good idea! I got a good deal, however. I paid off my mortgage with part of the lump sum and I now do about around 50 days consultancy work per year, which in combination with my pension brings my net income up to a higher level than it was when I was in full-time teaching!

Nice work if you can get it ;)

I also play golf whenever the weather is fine - just had a good game today, playing to only 2 over my handicap

Not bad but where did you drop those 2 shots? ;)

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Not bad but where did you drop those 2 shots?

2 shots? I play off 19! ;)

I scored 93 today on a par 72 course, and my buddy who plays off 10 scored 91. I had a disastrous front 9 and then came back with a vengeance on the back nine, parring 6 holes.

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Not bad but where did you drop those 2 shots?

2 shots? I play off 19! ;)

I scored 93 today on a par 72 course, and my buddy who plays off 10 scored 91. I had a disastrous front 9 and then came back with a vengeance on the back nine, parring 6 holes.

It was a game of 2 halfs then Greavesie ;)

Getting vaguely back on topic I very much hope to be spending a "hideously early" retirement in similar fashion. I heard once that the reason the teachers pension scheme was relatively sound financially was that teachers kept dying in the attempt to complete their 40 years ;)

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