Reflections on Retirement
Retirement…. isn’t that supposed to be a time to look back on your accomplishments, and travel and enjoy life? Hmmm… I think that holds more true for my parent’s generation than mine because we’ve lived through the dot.com bubble, and the economic squeeze of 2008, barely surviving with our savings intact. In addition, the government keeps threatening to take away Social Security, calling it an “Entitlement” when in reality it’s more of a savings account (which involuntarily came out of our pay checks).
Since I reached this milestone in a precipitous manner, and a little before I’m ready financially to afford the luxuries of my parent’s retirement, the coming months are full of mixed feelings. I wonder if that is true for all my colleagues taking the same step I am? As I watch many of those my age celebrate their retirements, I wonder why I don’t seem to be celebrating mine….
I know that the manner in which my career was divided up helps to make it feel that I have no one to celebrate with. I don’t have a set group that I always worked with over my 42 years in education. I spent 5 years in one school, 15 years in one district and then later returned to add 7 more years in that same district (but in 3 different schools), and spent 15 years in a conglomeration of higher education, online schools, pre-school, and substituting in school districts both in Maryland and in Colorado. It made for some unique experiences, and all added to my professional development as an educator. It means I’ve touched thousands of students either directly (over 2500 middle and high school students, over 400 primary or elementary students), and thousands of others through the teachers I’ve trained or the professors I’ve worked with who changed their teaching through what I taught them. I’ve also touched numbers of virtual students through the online projects with Kidlink or the two online schools where I taught. Through the Kidlink experiences, I met global colleagues and students from foreign countries.
I earned a Master’s equivalency, then went on to get a real Master’s degree, and eventually achieved a doctorate. I’ve also presented at many conferences to share my experiences, been given a couple of awards, and published a book and articles.
So what happens to all that knowledge and experience, once one retires? I’m sure my colleagues are also faced with the same questions…. what do I do with all those binders of training materials…. training I’ve taken, and training I’ve developed? Those materials set the groundwork for education today, they are a part of history, yet a history that no longer exists and can’t be used by the new generations of educators. What about all those grade books I saved for years, lugged across country and back, and still sit in my basement? I’ve saved them “just in case” a parent came back years later stating that something was wrong with a grade (don’t laugh, it happened!). Do I just toss all that? I’ll probably have a burning party with the grades eventually because it is too much to sit and shred (even though I’m retired), and it has personal info of students on it.
Since my grand kids recently moved back in with me, I figured some of the teaching materials will get used for playing school during summer months, and the training materials and grade books will make a great campfire for roasting marshmallows and making s’mores 🙂 …
So I know my educational career was rich and I’ve left my mark if only so slight, and although I’m not celebrating with a party, I’m celebrating in my own way…… with a virtual celebration….. and who knows what life will bring next???? a new career, or just time to celebrate and enjoy my family….