The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Archive for July 2018


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I’m retiring from teaching.  Don’t fret, though.  It’s what happens.  You pick a career, you work in it for 31 years, you retire.  You know that.  But you’re asking yourself:  What the hell, Jeff?  You haven’t been teaching for 31 years.  Because you would had to have started when you were 17.  We all know that you were a gifted student (you know how we know?  because you keep telling us), but you weren’t all that.  So shut up!  You ain’t retiring!

Well, no, I’m not.  Not right now.  But 8 years from exactly right now, I will be in starting my third week of retirement.  I’ve had in mind for a few years now when I will retire, but I had no intention of announcing until the last possible moment before my retirements benefits were seriously affected, which would have been ’round about 2022.  State of Illinois legislation had a different plan, though, and some last-minute changes in the laws that shape teacher retirement forced me to show my hand and submit my intention to retire at the end of the school year in 2026.  That’ll be 31 years right there for those of you keeping score at home, which I doubt is anybody except me.  Quick:  How many of you can even name the school district in which I teach?  Exactly.

If you’re keen on math, you’ll know that I’m retiring early.  My life circumstances and savings enable me to do so, so I decided why not?  Others have asked me why?  Why not stick around for the full 35 years and take all you can for as long as you can?  Two reasons:  1.  I know my limitations, as Dirty Harry said I should, and 2. I can name about six other reasons that would require me to name names, and I’m not going to do that.  I can easily name 6 people who I’ve worked with in the last few years who have been flamingly unprofessional as they rode out their years to collect all the pension money they could.  They stuck around not because they were still feeling good about teaching, but to grind through and get all they could.  I don’t see the need to put myself, my school, and my respected coworkers through that.  Seriously, folks, some of the people I saw cross over into retirement were flat-out assholes their last few years in the building.  I wouldn’t want that label following me out the door.

What about that first point?  Yeah.  I know how far I can go.  Here’s how I see it.  I don’t know if you know, but I have an affinity for running 5K races.  I may have written about them a few times here and there over the years, despite running being one of the most banal things you can write about.  Anyhow, a 5K is 3.1 miles.  I plan on teaching 31 years.  Right now, if I convert my years teaching to 5K mileage, I’m in the third mile of the race.  I’ve found my form, I still feel strong most of the time, and will want to stay at it hard through the finish line.  I learned in high school cross country that you don’t puke out the final mile no matter what.  Your teammates won’t respect you, and if you’ve never been a fast runner so much as a persistent one, that respect is what you live for most days—and the satisfaction of having accomplished something.  There was slightly more there for me, too.  I was deathly afraid of disappointing my coach.

I’m thankful that I already had my plans in hand two months ago when the legislation broke through.  I was one of about 25 teachers in my district who had to make a quick decision, and for once in my life from a financial perspective, I was already in position.  Still, it was unsettling to have to call my retirement so soon.  I’m still so damn young!  Really!  Writing the letter wasn’t too big of a thing in the end, but maybe that was because I was seriously dragged out by end-of-the-year business and couldn’t summon the emotions one might usually experience.  What was more unsettling was the long conversation I had with my financial planner last Friday to explore my options regarding investments and protecting what I have for when I need it.  Here’s a startling thought:  Imagine the economic collapse of 2008.  I was told to ride it out because the economy always turns around.  And thanks to Obama, we got there.  Slowly.  But we got there.  Now I’m in a position that if the economy tanks yet again (and it probably will…), I don’t have enough time and earning potential left to ride out the storm and recover anything that might get lost.  So guess who just got real conservative with his savings?  This guy!

Anyhow.  I’m retiring in 8 years.  I’ll be subbing a lot.  Why not?  I’m pretty used to the gig by now.  Plus, I live a two-block walk away from the nearest high school.  Before that, though, you’ll see me keeping pace this last mile.  Used to be the day when I was a pretty good sprinter at the end of a race, until I started running at a better pace.  I eventually got back to being a decent end sprinter, though it’s a rare day when I still do that.  It’s still in me, though.

Written by seeker70

July 20, 2018 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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