retirement

Where Have All The Teachers Gone?

A friend posted an interesting Article on Facebook today about the drain of experienced teachers in Australia. So, where have all the teachers gone?

Experienced teachers are disappearing into the sunset

They Have Retired!

Or at the very least, they’re thinking about it. Years of experience and skills walk out of the classroom every day, leaving a void that is hard to fill.

I retired almost three years ago from a teaching career that spanned the eighties, nineties and more than the first decade of the 2000’s. My career took me from Jelly Pad to iPad, and everything in between.

Why did I retire?

The pace of teaching has increased to the point where it is hard to keep up. We’ve gone from teaching the three R’s to teaching so much more, including how to function in the modern world of technology (cyber-safety). The curriculum is at breaking point and I shudder every time I hear ‘why aren’t they teaching that in schools?’.

I loved my job and gave it 100% of effort, but I found it hard to sustain the long hours.

It was time to go.

When a teacher retires, they hand in their laptop and their identity. A teacher’s world is contained in the files on the Government issued laptop; when they hand it back, their teaching world ceases to exist.

Departure time

But the retired teacher goes full circle – they embrace retirement with the same enthusiasm and passion they had for teaching when they were a new graduate. The difference is – they are now the boss and work to their own hours.

I’ve come full circle

But my heart is still back there in the classroom, wanting to help just one more student, or another parent battle the maze of paperwork to have their child diagnosed and accepted as having extra needs.

Should we try to lure retired teachers out of their new comfort zone and back into some kind of meaningful relationship with classrooms?

A lot could be gained:

  • We could salvage some of the knowledge and experience that walked out the door with the retiree
  • new graduates could be mentored – something new graduates identified as an area of need
  • the agility of mind that took teachers from Gestetner machines (if not, Jelly Pads) to Smart Boards and iDevices could be put to good use in the busy classroom in a meaningful way

Supply teaching is available to retired teachers, but it doesn’t offer the opportunity to pass on the experience of years of teaching. And it doesn’t highlight the depth of skills of the older teacher, especially in managing difficult behaviours and diverse classrooms.

New graduates start their teaching careers with enthusiasm, passion and a lot to learn – as we all did. They are the first to arrive at school each day, and usually the last to leave – at least for the first few years. The smart ones take advantage of senior teachers on staff and ask lots of questions – others prefer to learn the hard way.

Was it easier back then?

  • How did we go from Jelly Pad to iPad?
  • How did we move from chalkboard to Smartboard?
  • Where and how did we learn ‘the look’ – you know, that look that stops a wayward student in their tracks – without a single word?
  • How did we manage a classroom of over thirty students, many with Special Needs, without a teacher-aide or Special Education support staff?
  • How did we cope with thirty 4 and 5 year olds in their first year of school – on our own?
  • What could retired teachers teach new graduates that would help them over the five-year hump?

If only there was a way to bridge the gap between retired and newly graduated teachers – it would be a win-win, and the children in today’s classrooms would be better off.

Our Prime Minister surprised me yesterday when he gave the Closing the Gap Report. To get better results, Mr Morrison offered to wipe the HECS Debt for new graduates who offer to teach in remote areas.

I applaud the offer to help new teachers find a job, but our most vulnerable students deserve the expertise of our most experienced teachers. An ideal way to marry experience – with the exuberance of youth – would be to offer incentives to retired teachers to mentor new teachers in remote areas.

Mr Morrison – I’d go!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Teaching, 0 comments
Weekend – What Weekend?

Weekend – What Weekend?

Weekends: those magical hours between Friday night and Monday morning. You close the door of your office on Friday afternoon, and look forward to two days of blissful R&R – that’s Rest and Recuperation in old Military terms. There’s nothing like waking up on Saturday morning, knowing that you can roll over and go back to sleep. The weekend looks good from any angle!

But what happens when the weekend loses its lustre? What happens when the weekend becomes just like any other day? 

We call it Retirement!

When you close the door on the office for the very last time, you know you’ve hit retirement. The defining line between weekdays and weekends disappears. Timetables are for bus and train trips, and reports only relate to weather. Work!, becomes a dirty, four-letter word (anyone remember Maynard G Krebs’ reaction to the word?)

Retirement – the new phase of your life where – Yes!, the world really does revolve around you. Possibly for the first time in your life you are free to make decisions that are best for you: “Will I go out today? Nah… I think I’ll sit on the verandah, drink coffee and read a book.” I can do what I want, when I want.

When you settle into retirement, either every day is now a weekday, or every day is now a weekend. I chose the latter. Those days that start with M are no longer feared or dreaded. 

Cup Half-Empty or Half-Full?

Mine was always at least half-full, but since I retired, my cup is closer to full (usually with coffee). I have filled it with all the things I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. While I was working, every time I came across something interesting to do, or new skill to learn, I promised myself that I would do it when I retired. Needless to say, the list of things to do and learn was pretty long by the time I closed the door on my work-life.

Working my way through the list!

The first, and most important task was to learn to write creatively. My career was filled with factual report-writing. And there’s nothing like report-writing to stifle any creativity that you may have had prior to your career. Reports: a case of re-telling ‘the facts, and nothing but the facts’. Not much wriggle room for being creative.

And now there’s my Blog – where I get to try out different styles of writing. There is still a lot to learn, but I think I’m slowly moving into a zone where I feel more confident. I can relax a little, and really enjoy the whole writing experience – well – as far as my experience has taken me so far. I’ve only just started flexing my creative muscles so I know I have a long way to go, but I’m definitely enjoying the journey. 

Being retired, and being the centre of my own Universe, means I can be flexible. I can write when I want to – not when I have to. 

But What About the Challenge?

Ah, yes, the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Where am I up to? 

Day 6

As a blogger/writer, do you take the weekend off? 

Paul Taubman – Ultimate Blog Challenge

I had a bit of a chuckle when I read the topic for Day 6 – which is roughly where I am up to – despite it being the tenth day of October. My first thought was, ‘Weekend, What Weekend?’. Every day is a weekend. 

And I guess that answers the question…

I have posted Days 1, 2 and 3. I’m skipping Days 4 and 5 of the Challenge – until later. So that means I’m up to Day 6. Just saying….

Maureen
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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 2 comments
The Dawn of a New Tomorrow

The Dawn of a New Tomorrow

The bell signals the end of learning for another day. Students make a rush for the door, and the temptation to join them is overwhelming. You sit down at your desk and dream of the dawn of a new tomorrow. A tomorrow with no bells; no lesson plans; no marking; and no report-writing.

When you are a teacher, the lines between day and night are blurred. Three o’clock signals the end of learning for students, and the start of paperwork for teachers.

It’s going to be another long night. Before you start tomorrow’s planning, today’s marking screams at you. Thoughts are sloshing around your head – and they need to find their way into the books to be marked, before they settle into a pool of useless, random words. Leaving the marking until later never ends well. So you open the first book, pick up your pen – and start.

Image from Pixabay.com

And Lunch?

Image from Pixabay.com

Your stomach reminds you that playground duty kept you from the staffroom, for yet another lunch break.  Along with the empty feeling in your stomach, you crave coffee. Another one of life’s simple pleasures that eludes you in your teaching day. Hot coffee and students don’t mix – Workplace Health & Safety posters adorn the staffroom walls.  No chance of forgetting. You make a mental note to stop by the coffee shop on your way home.

When is Enough, Enough?

The teaching weeks roll into teaching months. Before you know it, you’re beyond retirement age, but you are still on the treadmill. Love for your job, and dedication to it, are no consolation for the tiredness you feel. That weariness that chases you down at the end of each long day. Your non-teaching friends are in bed at a reasonable hour – you are up late, planning and writing reports. It takes its toll. Your health starts to flash warning signs – Enough is Enough!

And one day it all comes to a grinding halt. The plans you made to keep working until your seventies, not that you are too far from that magic number, disappear. You wake up one morning and think “I can’t do this anymore”. And that’s the day the resignation papers fall out of your pocket – onto the Principal’s desk.

The dawn of a new tomorrow

When I closed the classroom door for the last time, I didn’t have time to think about it too much. As soon as I made the decision to fill in the retirement-forms – I booked a cruise. I needed something to separate my working-life from my new retirement-life. And I needed something to console me in the raw days following my departure from the world that had absorbed me for more than half my life.

I poured myself into planning for the cruise from Sydney to Singapore. That trip was to close the door on my working life – sealed shut – never to be reopened; and it worked! I came home refreshed, renewed and excited about settling down into a normal life. 

Or, So I Thought!

The years of getting by on less than eight hours sleep had become stuck somewhere in my Body-Clock, and it wouldn’t budge. I found myself unable to put my head on the pillow before midnight – but I was still waking up at five or six in the morning. The problem was, there was no planning or report-writing to fill the evenings. I subscribed to paid television – but that didn’t work; there never seemed to be anything worth watching. 

I started writing. I had always loved writing and promised myself that one day I would write a book. Perhaps that ‘one day’ had arrived.

The website I dabbled in, while still teaching, suddenly had meaning. It had been sitting there, half-baked, for years. Now it was time to get it into the oven. 

And the idea of a Blog started to gel. I’d been hearing about, and reading blogs, for a long time. 

Writing; Website; Blogging

The three started to overlap, then merge, until it was only natural that they would become one. And from the ashes, my Phoenix arose.

MaureenDurney.com emerged.

My humble musings from the early days are often painful to revisit. But put into perspective, they are a yardstick by which to measure the distance I have travelled. I can see the improvement in my writing, in my website management, and therefore in my blogging.

What has had the most impact?

The Ultimate Blog Challenge!

Writing within a time-frame and to a specific topic has reined in my verbosity. The challenge dictates a blog-a-day for thirty-one days. You can’t allow yourself the luxury of extra words when the clock is ticking away beside you. Well theoretically, anyway. I still need to work on the length of my blogs. And that is a work-in-progress.

MaureenDurney.com is keeping me focused. It is absorbing me – drawing out the passion that I used to pour into my teaching. It is my new life. Learning new skills is exercising my brain, just as Professional Development did in my teaching days. 

And The Book?

The book is another work-in-progress. And the Ultimate Blog Challenge is pre-requisite learning before launching full-on into it. With my long teaching days behind me, and with the dawn of my new tomorrow, I can now devote my life to Blogging. 

MaureenDurney.com is alive and well!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 4 comments
China Trip – The Beginning

China Trip – The Beginning

With all the tripping around I’ve done this year, my blogs are all over the place. The China trip has been fleetingly touched on in other areas but has somehow missed the dedicated space it so truly deserves. So, here it is!

In The Beginning

img_8867It all started with a conversation with Molly, the sales agent, in July 2015. Settlement on my new unit was due to happen around September – we hoped – but Molly was going to China to visit the Aveo campus in Shanghai and hoped to be back in time for settlement. She wanted to be able to hand over the keys in person when I took ownership of the place I’d call home in my retirement years. As Molly talked about China, my mind went into overdrive with thoughts of potential travel opportunities – but the idea slipped quietly onto the back burner – there were more pressing things that needed my immediate attention, not the least of which was actually buying the unit, packing up my world out in Central Queensland, and making the long haul back to civilisation. Oh, and somewhere amongst all that, actually securing a transfer with my job. Even though I was buying my retirement place, I wasn’t ready to sever my ties with paid employment just yet. I figured I had another 5 years, at least, before I needed to think about hanging up the chalk (whiteboard markers to be politically correct) and close the door on my long teaching career. After all, I still loved my job.

So, no more thoughts of China entered my head until I had moved in and was a few months into being settled in the unit. By this time I’d even committed the unthinkable and resigned from my job, but that’s another story. So when I opened the mailbox that cold day in July and found a note about a meeting to discuss a trip to China, for anyone who was interested, I was in. I put the date in my diary and when the big day arrived, armed with my trusty new camera, drove to Robina for the meeting.

It all sounded good, and I was pretty sure it was something I really wanted to do, until Suzy, the presenter, mentioned there was a Starbucks right next to where we’d be staying. That was the game-changer for me. My next question was ‘where do I sign?’. I love Starbucks, but again, that’s another chapter, for another time.

The plans slowly unfolded. There were emails back and forth between the travel agency and AVEO organiser (Suzy). There were numerous forms to complete, more dreaded passport photos for the Visa and thoughts (a few anyway) about what to pack.

Since then, the plans have unfolded, the itinerary is finalised, and the packing is about to start in earnest. With the departure now only days away, the packing is slightly overdue, but I’m confident that I’ll get there. Morning will come a little earlier on Tuesday, with the bus picking me up at 6 am. From Murwillumbah, we’ll travel to Robina to collect the Gold-Coasters, and then it’s on to Brisbane Airport. I’m guessing the day is going to be very long, as we make our way to Hong Kong to meet up with the travellers from Sydney and Melbourne. We will all then board the flight to Shanghai, where we’ll be met by our tour guide for the drive to our accommodation at the Shanghai Campus. From then on it will be full speed ahead, with every day being packed with great things to do.

So, back to the packing…

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Posted by Maureen in Travel