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Early Retirement--Scary!!

October 3, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Considering early retirement is scary!

I have taught public school orchestra and strings for 31 years counting this one. This is the year that I can take eary retirement. I am so conflicted about this.
First, I LOVE the kids. But with the no child left behind stuff it seems like all I do more and more is reports, reports, reports. Our dept. even has to teach math and english skills once a month too. I am not a math or english teacher, and these extra "out" of my curriculum end up taking away a whole rehearsal period. To say it is frustrating is an understatement.

But, on the other hand, if I do retire from public school teaching, there are so many other opportunities out there to pursue. Private teaching, going to another , maybe smaller district, working at the Humane Society, it is mind boggeling (hope I spelled that right). I have my list of why to stay on one side, and why to go on another. Sadly, the why to go side has grown since the end of the school year last year. I'm getting tired of feeling like a chicken with my head cut off---yet, there are the kids. They have a way of making it all ok most days. I really enjoy them, and they are all so cool. ARRGH! I am so conflicted.

And what makes this even more difficult is that I have to sign the papers, to go or not, by the first of March. I don't even get until the end of the year.

Anyone else out there having, or have had the same experience? I think I need some advice from some of you all, to help me put everything into perspective. Comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks folks!

From bill platt
Posted on October 3, 2008 at 2:15 PM
"Private teaching, working at the Humane Society"

The economy will be in the tank for at least 3 more years. Don't quit your gov'mt sponsored day job.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on October 3, 2008 at 4:09 PM
Have you consulted with a financial planner type? Can you live on your pension? If not, I would not retire until I had a firm offer from those other opportunities, so that you can make sure to have adequate income. I agree with Bill that it is risky to retire now, especially if much of your retirement money is in 401(k) plans. I am eligible to retire now although I am not ready to, but I would not because my nest egg has taken a significant hit in the last few months.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on October 3, 2008 at 5:53 PM
Years ago aunt worked in a public school for a long time as a secretary or something. They fired her right before she could have quit and started collecting a pension.
From Ray Randall
Posted on October 3, 2008 at 6:11 PM
Suggest hanging in there another year or two to up the pension and stay employed until, or if, the economy is
ever brought back on track. In the meantime you can start teaching at home and working with the Humane Society on the side to get your feet in the door.
Good luck.
From Joe Fischer
Posted on October 4, 2008 at 4:57 AM
there is NO Doubt
retire NOW
don't even think about it !
you've paid your dues
now its time to regroup !
walk out w/a smile and do not
return;this segment is OVER !
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on October 5, 2008 at 6:54 AM
Economic times are very rough. Be thankful that you have a steady job and a steady salary.
From Eric Godfrey
Posted on October 5, 2008 at 2:42 PM
A key factor (as some have mentioned) is whether you would be financially secure if you retired now. If so, you don't really need a job (no matter what the state of the economy). Only you can know that (in conjunction with a financial advisor if you need one). Do you have sufficient savings to live on for a while? You could take early social security, but you take a financial hit for doing so. Is your investment in your pension plan secure and of sufficient size? What is the appropriate balance among different types of investments, and how close are you to that ideal? I didn't care much about any of the above until I retired; then I had to suddenly get interested and develop some financial expertise to feel comfortable making decisions. I am fortunate in having TIAA-CREF as my retirement plan; they offer practically unlimited free high-quality financial advice; perhaps your plan does too. Use it before making a decision.

Your activities
I retired 3 years ago at age 61 after teaching 34 years at the university and small college level. For those 3 years I have been involved in a concerted search for disadvantages to retirement, and I regret to report that I haven't found any. If you have a lot of other interests that you always wished time to get (more) involved in (hobbies, travel, theater, and violin in my case), my advice is to do it while you are young and healthy enough to dive into them vigorously. On the other hand, if you are at a loss to know how you will use your time after retirement, you had better wait. With your interest in music, you have open-ended possibilities; for example, I resumed lessons after a mere 40-year lapse, greatly upped my daily practice time, and am exploring the relevant Alexander Technique - all VERY satisfying.

I sometimes miss the close contact with young people (and I taught at a small college for 30 years, where there was a lot of it), but what has taken its place is so rewarding that I have never regretted retiring earlier than my "time" (and my peers). Whether the lack of that contact will bother you is of course a judgment call that you will have to make.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on October 5, 2008 at 11:48 PM
I suggets you read a book called `Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.@
One of the most useful chapter sin that talks about your attitude in this kind of situation. At the moment your thinking is not helping you. If you appraohc it as a win -win situation attitude then you might fele more confident. What that requires is you trake decisions with the mentality o f knowing you cannot go wrong because if it doesnt work out you can simply change course again.
Life really is that simple. Its not the situation but how you feel about things.
From Karen Ling
Posted on October 6, 2008 at 2:45 AM
If you still enjoy teaching-start a music studio.You can be your own boss. Remember that we have to teach English and math within music now-it is one way to justify including the arts in the school system. The children of today cannot write or read well. All teachers should instill a love of reading. We read music as a universal language. I would not recommend stopping teaching-there are 200 young kids just out of collge in their 20's trying to get your job.Districts love to hire young-they are cheap.
From Dwight Brown
Posted on October 6, 2008 at 7:45 AM
I am in the same boat, this is the start of my 27th year teaching in the public schools. The NCLB etc. have become a real millstone, it was just a way for the Feds make themselves feel good, and then send their ikds off to private school. I say "git while the gitting is good" I am going to try to make it to 30 years.


From Dwight Brown
Posted on October 6, 2008 at 12:45 PM
Sorry about the spelling in the last post. I should know enough not to try to make sense at 3:45 in the morning. The dogs got me up and I couldn't get back to sleep.


From molly moriarty
Posted on October 6, 2008 at 3:42 PM
Thanks for all the great responses! This has got to be the most difficult decision I have had to make in a long long time. I really appreciate getting a different "take" on this from all of you---it really helps.

I meet with the retirement guys from the District this month, to discuss the pros and cons. Hopefully that will help. We will see. Thanks again for helping me--you are all great!

From Bonny Buckley
Posted on October 7, 2008 at 12:27 AM
You do have some time to let the right decision surface! After 6 years in a district I got really burned out and "retired" or quit. In the mean time, my quartet finished recording a CD and I changed my job to a much much better one teaching music but not orchestra right now. I wasn't planning to take on another teaching job but this one was really right for me. No "No Child Left Behind" act to worry about in international school education! You'll find the right way for you. I would be torn too after that many years.

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