Those were my words to a principal not so many years ago. We were having a conversation about retirement and how would you know when to retire and those who should, but just couldn't let go. Not me. I knew. Long before I told anyone else, or even admitted it to myself, I knew my time had come. Time to make my exit. Oh, I still teach, but not in the same school or the same field. I didn't suddenly stop loving kids or stop being a teacher. I didn't wake up one morning and say, "Hey, I'm not a teacher anymore." Nothing like that. Nothing dramatic. Nothing that was noticeable. But I did have the sense to realize that I wasn't growing and learning where I was. I was stagnant. Dying. Time for God to plant me somewhere else. I wanted to bloom, but was tired of being held down and fighting a fight that only had losers.
Was it scary? You bet. Lots of sleepless nights and teary mornings. But I stuck to my belief that God gave me a gift to teach so He would give me a place to use the gift. And He did. My part was to be available. At the time I wasn't able and a part of me wasn't even willing, but it was a job. The day I resigned after 21 years of teaching kids, I was offered a job to teach adults. It was a job that helped to 'pay the bills'. Nothing more and nothing less.
And then something happened. I found myself learning. Again. I was challenged to meet new expectations. Professional Development took on a whole new meaning. I actually got to choose my own PD. It did have to be something that fit into a category, but I got to pick out what I would do! Suddenly I was like a kid in a candy store. Searching for articles, webinars, or conferences that would help me to grow.
Fast forward three years. I'm still teaching adults, but now I've had a new door opened. I'm back teaching kids again. A different subject. A different age level. Part-time. And. I. Love. It. And... I'm learning again. I put myself in a position where I would be 'forced' to learn new things and stretch myself. It hasn't hurt me one little bit. I've even considered going back into public education. And, I just might head back to a classroom. If that is where God leads me.
I've learned other things as well. Money isn't as important as we think it is. Time with family and friends is precious. Sleeping in is NOT over-rated! And, God always prepares us for the task He gives us.
Will I ever really retire? Who knows!! Right now, I am content with the direction that I am headed and all the things that I am learning.
(For more of Kim Frencken's writing and information about her educational products, check out her blog, Chocolate For the Teacher.)