What “Not Knowing My Retirement Date,” Means For Me …

This week, I had an unexpected interaction with an educator that I just recently met. As we were chatting, he asked me how long I’ve been teaching. I said, “I show 21 years of experience on the seniority list.” He replied, “You must be getting closer to retirement then. How many years do you have left?” This is when I said, “I actually don’t know.” Now don’t get me wrong here. I know that we have the 85 factor, and I can do some math to figure out when I reach this factor, but at this moment, retirement just isn’t on my mind. My step-dad has always said, “Just because you can retire, it doesn’t mean that you have to.” This has stuck with me.

I know that education can be stressful right now. COVID added another layer to teaching and learning, which has at times, made the school system more complicated. But even with different COVID restrictions, pivoting, and some uncertainty and change along the way, I still love teaching. Being in the classroom brings me joy. Interacting with kids makes me smile. Seeing and hearing their remarkable growth makes my teacher heart burst on a daily basis. Working with the best teaching partner in the world makes me feel like the luckiest person each and every day!

Just a few, of many, joyful moments from this past week at school.

And so for now, I’m not counting down the number of years I have left in the classroom, but instead, grateful for the wonderful experiences and connections that I have on a daily basis. If and when, I don’t feel this joy, I will know that it’s time to make a change, and hopefully, find my spark again. What brings you happiness at school? I’m not trying to dismiss the stress or frustration here that others might feel, or that at times, I also experience. But maybe it took an unexpected conversation to remind me that I’m lucky to not be thinking about when school is over, but instead, delighted about what I get to do day after day. Unrelated, but on what I know is going to be a very difficult day, I think that I needed a reason to smile.


8 thoughts on “What “Not Knowing My Retirement Date,” Means For Me …

  1. This is fascinating. I have, I think, almost always known my date. And it’s pretty darned soon, which pleases me, because as much as there is joy in what I am doing, there is also exhaustion and frustration and yes, even anger at our broken system.

    Part of this, I think, is that my life partner has always encouraged me to think about what’s next. What comes after I am not constrained by a classroom. What might I want to do? Where and how might I want to work? Yes, I want to keep working. But I know at this point that I don’t want to keep working everyday in a traditional classroom space.

    What’s next for me? We’ll see. I just know that I’m ready. Potential labour disruption next year makes me think that walking out the door between April and June 2023 isn’t going to be as wrenching as it might have been.

    I will admit that the last few years, with their disruptions and opportunities to innovate have been exhausting and rewarding. I think I might have managed it better if I hadn’t been thus close to the end of my career.

    • Thanks for your comment, Lisa! You remind me here about one of the reasons why I blog. Opening up and sharing my thinking, sometimes inspires others to do the same, and it’s fascinating to hear different perspectives. You really made me think differently about another reason why people might want to know their retirement date. I’m very curious to hear what you end up doing when you leave the classroom. I have no doubt that you’ll continue to make a positive impact in whatever you do, and I hope that I can keep learning from you.

      Labour disruptions are something that I’m trying not to think about right now, but I might need to return to this blog post if we are in this situation next year. Those are the times when I have to find my happy/joy again. Have a great rest of the school year! I hope that it brings with it some wonderful moments with amazing kids!


  2. I get such joy from my littles each and every day in the classroom. I love to see them as they make their way forward in all aspects of their growth and progress. I love to hear them laugh and listen to their stories…well, most of their stories. 🙂 I can’t imagine what I would “Be” if it weren’t a “Teacher”.

    But I do know my retirement date. It’s from way back when we used to receive the booklet in the mail, with the date clearly posted on the front cover. When I first recall knowing it by heart, the number of years required to reach it, felt impossible.

    It’s not so impossible any longer, as I’m well into the single digits. I continue to learn alongside my littles, but I’m looking forward to the new adventures that will come when I reach that date.

    • Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth! I love that you enjoy your time with your students so much. It’s interesting that you mentioned that booklet. I remember getting it too, but never really looking at the date on the front. I guess we don’t get that booklet anymore. Your comment, like Lisa’s, reminds me that there’s another reason to know this date: it gets some people thinking about what comes next. I hope that you enjoy those adventures when they come, and that you enjoy your final years with your littles as well.


  3. So much of my current decisions have revolved around finding my joy in teaching again and following your journey with your littles has been such a big part of why I want to go back to the classroom. I actually told someone the other day that I want to bring the “Aviva/Paula” style to primary/junior and see if it works. Can we embrace a play-based, inquiry stance classroom beyond kindergarten? I want to spend my days observing and reflecting with my students, finding ways to push their thinking forwards and getting hands dirty in our learning pursuits. Thanks for always inspiring me and being honest about your own reflections.

    • Thank you so much, Beth! I absolutely love that this is going to be your approach to Grades 3/4, and I can’t wait to hear more about your journey! Such lucky kids to be getting you as their teacher. I hope that next year’s adventure brings you so much joy!


  4. Hi Aviva,
    I was like you for a very long time – I had no idea what “my date” was. I have no plans of leaving soon because I still love my job. However, after lots of conversations with excellent educators who *are* burning out and are ready for the next chapter, I do know mine. It’s a lot sooner than I thought – 2026! There’s something a bit liberating about knowing that another door can open and Lisa makes an excellent point in her comment about getting ready for that next stage. Elizabeth also inadvertently made a different good point – so much of my identity is tied up in education (and in teacher-librarianship, which is why the news of Beth returning to a class role has me reflecting) and that’s natural but it shouldn’t prevent me from (and this is a big frame shift for me) moving on (not quitting, or giving up – see how words matter?). Thanks for the thinking.

    • Thanks for your comment, Diana, and for sharing your shifting thinking. I almost wonder if this will lead to a blog post of your own. Words do matter, and “moving onto the next chapter,” seems like such a wonderful way of looking at retirement or just change in general. Good luck as you continue to reflect!


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