The start of a new school year is just around the corner and as my mind begins to crank up in anticipation of a fresh new year beginning, I look forward to the very real possibility that I am beginning the penultimate year of my teaching career, a sobering thought but also one that causes me to begin thinking about my future and what I'll do with myself. The house will be paid off later this year and my wife feels confidant that we can afford for me to retire. Ah, retirement! How quickly that point in my life has sneaked up?
Actually, to be completely honest, I have been giving my retirement from full time teaching a great deal of thought over the past few years. We have been carefully planning for this transition and I do have some very real plans.
First, I don't want to just give up teaching completely. I figure I'll substitute teach for a few years partly to make money to pay for my varied interests. I need to be able to pay for my love of golf, travel, gardening of course, technology, books, cooking, etc. All this requires a certain amount of cash and since I am still enjoying working with the kids, why not sub? What I won't miss are the committees, the meetings and the seemingly endless, mindless and meaningless reforms which the profession is so fond of foisting on teachers. Politicians, having little knowledge of education and who seem to always ask the wrong people for advice, make knee-jerk decisions that we in the trenches are left to implement with fewer and fewer dollars just so they can look like they are doing something, anything, to try and improve standardized test scores and get themselves re-elected. It is all just too frustrating. I just want to teach. Yes, I want to do it right and I am always interested in new ideas and strategies to do it better, but too many of the latest ideas are misguided and show too little thought to possibly be what's best for the kids.
So, with that kind of attitude, it is time to be thinking about heading out the door and on to new and interesting adventures, leaving the fulltime work to a fresh new generation of teachers with their pants on fire and excited about everyday they come to school. I'll continue to sub in classrooms if they'll have me and I'm sure I will enjoy it most days. The nice thing is that, at the end of the day, I will walk out the door and leave the worries teachers have for their kids with someone else. No meetings, no committees, no poorly organized inservices, just come in and work with a bunch of kids for the day and leave. If the class is poorly managed, I just won't go there again. If I'd rather play golf or garden or go out to meet buddies for breakfast, I just won't take the gig. Simple.
I thought I'd volunteer at the local Museum of Radio and Electricity, at the Literacy Council, the Senior Center, or any one of many other opportunities I haven't even explored yet. Of course, with our daughter getting married in a few months, I also really look forward to being a grandad and spoiling those grandbabies. Oh, I'll keep busy, no doubt of it. I'll also take over much of the responsibility around the house since my wife will still be working for at least several more years.
I'm really looking forward to this transition in my life. It isn't just one step closer to the grave for me. It really is just a new period of my life I hope to live and enjoy for many, many years to come. So bring it on and look out world, here I come.
But in the meantime, I still have a couple of great years left working with some terrific kids and teachers and I'm looking forward to that. One day at a time.