In a fresh post at her A Place at the Table blog (Teacher Magazine), TLN Forum member Susan Graham highlights a new report urging America not to waste the advanced skills and knowledge of veteran teachers. Her post is appropriately titled “Not Ready for the Rocking Chair” and it perfectly captures the feelings of so many 50- and 60-something teachers whose spirit is strong even if their stamina is faltering a bit. Sample this excerpt:
Here’s a finding [from the report] worth mulling over:
At the end of their careers, accomplished veterans who still have much to contribute are being separated from their schools by obsolete retirement systems.
I’m one of those highly accomplished Baby Boomer teachers. I love working with my students. I love working with new teachers. I love working with colleagues in staff development. I love writing and researching. I love being a keeper of institutional knowledge for my school and my school system. I love developing my professional skills with experiences such as the Santa Cruz mentor training. My own children are grown, my personal life is in order, my professional network is strong, my knowledge is current, and my skills are refined by practice. I’m not ready to quit. I’m ready to do more.
I’m ready to take on new challenges, but I find that there are few options at this point in my career. Those of us who chose to stay in the classroom in our 30s are now expected to stay in our classrooms in our 50s. But by limiting how we are used, school systems fail to realize the full return on their investment in skilled classroom practitioners….
In the meantime I dream of being a teacher coach. I fantasize about using those mentoring skills to support new teachers in their classroom as they find their teaching stride and teacher voice. I dream about working with practicing teachers as they move from competent to accomplished. I imagine being there on the sidelines as other teachers discover the excitement and satisfaction of professional leadership.
Be sure to read it all. With nearly a third of American teachers expected to retire in the next four years, we should be asking ourselves how we might convince the best and brightest Baby Boomers to stick around and support the best and brightest New Century teachers.