For many experienced teachers, classroom teaching is not as attractive now at it was when they were younger. According to a survey, almost 20% of teachers with more than 20 years’ experience aim to retire earlier than they originally planned.
Rather than waiting to retire at their Normal Pension Age (NPA), these highly experienced teachers are retiring early, citing their main reasons as:
- 83% – lack of work/life balance
- 72% – high workload
- 70% – stress
Retirement finances and pensions
Some may be keen on the fact that teachers who are members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) can start drawing their pension from age 55 (under certain conditions). However, they face a penalty if they retire early, and receive less benefit overall than if they started to draw their pension at the NPA.
It’s a complicated equation to work out what is financially best verses the need to ‘get out’. Many teachers who come and talk to me are primarily concerned about their pensions and finances, but I always remind them of another major concern; what exactly do they have planned for retirement?
Time to do – what?
Teaching is a highly structured profession in almost every aspect; your daily routine, term dates, specific curriculums, SATS and exams, career progression, and more.
Outside of school, the work continues with marking, lesson preparation and more, all structured activities with defined timescales.
Suddenly in retirement, all that has gone at a stroke. I met a newly retired teacher a couple of weeks back walking her dog at 9am in the morning. She was almost incredulous that at this time, all her ex-colleagues would now be stood in front of their classes. Meanwhile she was out strolling in glorious sunshine accompanied by a very happy Havanese!
She had no plans for the day apart from revelling in her new-found liberation – and that’s fine right now. But what about in three months’ time when it’s raining hard, and the dog isn’t keen? Or a years’ time when the novelty of taking multiple holidays at any time of year isn’t quite as thrilling as before (and proving more expensive)?
Planning for life
Throughout our life, we are educated in areas that we need to know about and there always seems to be a reason for ‘turning up’ at school.
- Learning to pass those important exams to get us to the next stage of education
and then (if we are lucky)
- Access to career guidance counselling
We follow this process (ethos) throughout our careers to progress up the ladder for a better quality of life, and looking forward to the day that we can finally RETIRE!
The first 40-60 years of life therefore usually has some kind of plan along with support. But why is it that the next potential 30+ years of life there is no structured plan, and no real retirement-life counselling.
Plan your time in retirement
As a teacher, a full curriculum of life after the classroom needs to be considered, not just your pension. This is when retirement planning comes into play.
Planning their retirement should be a walk in the park for teachers accustomed to planning lessons, following curriculums, and planning their summer holidays for maximum R&R. However, many teachers struggle to define exactly what they should be planning for, and sometimes even pushing back against the ‘job’ of creating any sort of timetable.
One of my retirement coaching clients who is a retired headteacher was worried about how she would manage with no structure and routine after 30 years of teaching. So, we started by looking at the seven things most retirees miss about work in general, namely:
- A sense of identity and purpose
- A reason to get up in the morning
- Social connections
- Mental and physical stimulus
- A sense of accomplishment and satisfaction
- Structure and routine
- The salary
It’s easy to see how these relate to the teaching profession in particular. I consider the first one – a sense of identity – to be a big one for teachers.
May I introduce…
IMHO, my social media team spend far too much time watching TV quiz shows (they say it’s research but…). However, they have noticed something interesting when the general public contestants introduce themselves to the host. Many professional people say they are retired, and the host then asks what they did previously. Retired teachers tend to say that they are a retired teacher / headteacher straight off. They still hold dear the status of their former profession.
It’s not entirely surprising. In a recent edition of the BBC Breakfast Show, one of the presenters interviewed a head teacher about the RAAC issue. Even though her first name was on the screen, and he had never been taught by her, he still called her “Mrs xxxx” throughout the interview. He just couldn’t bring himself to call a headteacher by their first name (and got a lot of ribbing for it by his co-presenter afterwards).
With society almost subconsciously reinforcing your former work status, it can be very hard to let go of it. Instead, you take on a new status of “retiree” that focusses on what you enjoy, what you are doing, and want to be doing for the next 30 years or more.
Interestingly, this is something that my ex-headteacher client (there it is again) found easier than expected. However, she also says she still mentally runs on term-time and school day hours! This takes time to adjust. So when you’re planning your retirement, give yourself some space and time to transition into your new status too.
Bespoke retirement coaching
At Panthera LIFE I specialise in 1-to-1 retirement coaching for those approaching and transitioning through retirement, sometimes up to five years in advance. This timescale allows you to adjust your mindset as well as plan what you want to do, and research options. It allows you to think beyond the financial and focus on the personal.
So when you choose to leave the classroom, you’ve got your pathway into retirement ready and waiting for you. All you have to do is take that first step.
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