At and around these retirement parties, the parting messages always include gratitude. Those leaving the profession after significant years, always note how grateful they are to have had a meaningful profession, one that placed them with good people and positive work. The day-to-day challenges disappear at the end while the good moments of camaraderie and care rise.
Teaching is such fast-paced work that there is rarely time to stop and see the big picture of what it means to teach, and the fact that the work is overall positive. When teaching, there are always opportunity to better what we do on our own and together, so it's difficult to just step back to see all that we have done day-to-day and year-to-year.
As I near the final years of my teaching career, I'm watching closely how colleagues end their tenure. I'm taking note of their gratitude and grace as they complete final tasks. I see how those of us at or near the end of our careers can support those beginning and mid-career educators. We can encourage them to lead their career in the following ways:
- Rise high on the pay scale by knowing your contract and the ways you can increase your pay via professional learning and extracurricular stipends
- Team with one another to strengthen what you all can do to teach children well and care for one another too.
- Speak up against injustice, and work for the best possible work conditions and salaries. When educators receive fair salaries and enjoy optimal work conditions, they have the opportunity to teach and serve students and their families better.
- Always be respectful, and when frustration hits, seek the support of your union, laws, colleagues, and supportive leadership.
- Don't suffer in silence, but seek positive paths towards betterment with others.
- Keep the focus of educators' collective work which is to teach children well at the center of what you do each and every day.
A teaching career is challenging work, and work that each and every educator can be proud of. These retirement celebrations and reflections, provide an opportunity for every educator to think about their career including where they have been and where they are going.