Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) grows old. He’s already old, to be honest. He always thought he would go on, always working, always teaching, but the fates have intervened. This is not some screed about how powers-that-be, from grubby politicians making hay from demonizing teachers to tyrannical school-based administrators trying to rise through the ranks by trashing teachers, have made the job untenable or the pay’s lousy or the culture wars have taken a toll.
It is time. It’s simply time.
GOT hopes to have 30 more years of a quality life even if he can’t reach 100. Few ever do. If he does, living at the west end of a county with beaches on the Atlantic, it’s likely GOT will own ocean-front property given the sea rise projected to take place.
But money and wealth acquisition have never driven the choices GOT has made across a 42-year career. Across the years, he’s been an accountant and auditor (his CPA days), worked in large corporations and small businesses, tried a business or two of his own, gave the pulpit a try, and then finally found fulfillment in a teaching career.
GOT doesn’t teach this year. He chases 240 (at the last count) mostly seniors around the building to see if they are showing up to their assigned locations and pulls grades from sometimes recalcitrant teachers to enter into the online gradebook. This assignment creates the time needed for the real job: to coordinate all the testing in the building.
While many teachers spend their time finding a way out of the classroom, GOT is different. He wants to be in the classroom. But recognition of his organizational, administrative (meaning able to execute a plan well), and people skills brought him to his current assignment. GOT used to think that anyone had the ability to organize a complex system, develop a good plan, and oversee the execution, but time has taught him that it is a rare ability that makes him stand out from others. (Dammit! Did GOT mention he wants to teach?)
But that’s not why GOT is retiring. It is time. It is simply the right time.
It’s P.J. O’Rourke dying at 74. It’s Bob Saget, age 65. It’s so many others that you can read about here. GOT cares not for celebrity and fame, but these are the people reported in the media that we know. Thus, you can understand how GOT realizes that these people were his age, some were less, and some were no more than a decade ahead.
Life is fleeting. “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers him no more.” Since GOT first mentioned his intention on social media, he has heard stories from friends about someone who died soon after retiring. Their point is Carpe Diem! before it’s too late.
Certificate renewal also plays a role in the timing. GOT’s renewal year is 2023, which means that his current teaching certificate expires June 30, 2023. To renew, he has to undergo 30 hours (20 in-service points) of ESE training as a part of the 120 hours or in-service points needed to renew. One option would be a course that requires a written lesson plan delivered in a classroom while an administrator observes to certify that this was done.
Oops, GOT is not directly teaching classes this year. Another option would be to give up six Saturdays to sit through long lectures. But why? Why give up personal time for the purpose of working only one more year? And it would be a total waste of time because GOT is not directly teaching now.
It is the attack upon the professional teacher that you see. While state legislatures took note that they need more teachers in their public schools, therefore they lessened and dropped certification requirements to attract new people, they double down on what they demand from the professional teachers currently on the payroll.
In Florida, elementary and English teachers have extra requirements in taking reading classes.
We would be better off to resign and then reapply under the loosened requirements. All that’s needed is a bachelor’s degree and relevant industry experience. If many years of actually teaching a subject in a real classroom does not qualify as relevant industry experience, what does?!
Returning to the point, GOT doesn’t see the reward in doing a class on personal time with additional work outside of the class to work an additional year.
It is time. It’s simply time.
The sands run rapidly through the hourglass. The fact that desperate school districts are begging retired teachers to come back … GOT looks forward to a day when teachers can once again state their non-negotiables and powers-that-be must take note.