Retiring or Resigning Teachers Need to Leave Their School Behind


Are you indispensable?

No you are not.

As schools end for the summer break there will be the usual shuffle of staff in many schools throughout education.  If you believe you are so indispensable in your previous position why did you leave?
Were you tired, burnt out, had a better offer?  I hope you are leaving voluntarily and because you know it is the right time to leave.

I have to ask, didn’t you think when you submitted your retirement, resignation or transfer request/notification that another person would probably be hired to fill your former position – to replace you.

It doesn’t matter where you are on the educational hierarchy:  Superintendent, Administrator, Master  Teacher, Teacher, EdTech, Secretary, Custodian and yes even us Special Education teachers.

The reality is,

there will be probably be someone hired to take your place.

How will you feel?

To see what you so diligently worked for or on for all those years, change so much –  most likely very quickly after your departure.  For us teachers, especially your old room, that one that you spent some much of your life in, to get it just the way you wanted it. By the beginning of school, when you go back to “offer” your help, the new person hired to replace you, has thrown away or gotten rid of all of the great “stuff” you left to help them out.

Instead they are making your room “their” room.  Then they have the audacity to gently rebuff your offers to “help” them, reminding you that they have to do it there way, not yours and offer to give you several boxes labelled trash or free for the taking, of stuff that used to be yours and indispensable to how you taught.

This can be very difficult for some former educators to accept easily or gracefully, especially those who believe that they were such an integral cog at a school for so many, many years. That they were indispensable, that the school is going to be a much worse place without them.

Believe it or not, no matter how important you were last year or even the last five, ten, or more years at your school, you will be amazed at how quickly you will be relegated to “oh they used to be here” and forgotten. The school will somehow keep open, even though you are no longer there.

Visiting Can Be Awkward

You might even go back to visit a few times, but it is not the same, you are no longer a part of “the new team”.  You have become an outsider.

If you do go back and visit, you will feel a certain amount of awkwardness, even though others who knew you then, may try to make you feel at ease. You will feel like you don’t belong (you don’t) – that you are interrupting whoever you are talking to from doing their work (you are).  You will suddenly remember when you were on the other side of the conversation. How you felt (inconvenienced) and you will suddenly remember a reason to conveniently leave as soon as you can – because you do know that you don’t belong here while school is in session.

7 Ideas for leaving a school behind.

  1. Don’t visit your old school, unless you make an appointment with the person you are going to see, just dropping in is not appropriate. I don’t care if you worked in that building for 30 years, you no longer work there and remember to sign-in at the front desk.  Yes you now have to sign-in.
  2. Don’t talk negatively about the person who replaces you or attempt to compare how you would do something against how they are doing it. It isn’t fair to the new person and makes you look petty, especially when you do it in public.
  3. If invited back or attending a function/event, don’t wander the halls, stay where the function/event is taking place.
  4. If you left something at the school (unless it is something really important or very sentimental) and school has started – forget about it or call and ask a former colleague to get it for you and meet them somewhere away from the school.
  5. If you are volunteering in the school after you retired/resigned – keep your mouth shut and be positive about what you see happening at the school – you no longer have the whole story. Do your volunteering and do not get involved with the day-to-day school politics.  Your role has changed, accept and embrace your new role, otherwise wait a while before volunteering, until you can accept that change.
  6. If want to get involved with the politics part of the school debates – run for the school board – you now have the time to do it right and you would be a great advocate on the board, with real classroom experience.
  7. Don’t drop into the teacher’s lounge for an “occasional” lunch, so you can catch up on the recent gossip and bitch sessions going on. It won’t do you or the teachers who are there any good. If you want to see some of those you used to work with and get the latest gossip, go out after school or go out to lunch on the weekend or during breaks, if they have time.  Just because you may now have lots of extra time does not mean that your former colleagues will.

If you decide to go back and visit your former school, just remember you have been replaced and were not indispensable, the students and staff have moved on and that you need to also. Many will love to see you, just not during the school day.  Please don’t become one of those “dreaded” former educators that can’t stay away after they have “left”.  Remember what you used to think of those former teachers who kept coming back when you were teaching and how you pitied them.  Do you want to be pitied?

Once you have retired, resigned or transferred – you have a whole new life and the more you try to stay in your old life, the harder it is to move on in your new life.  Yes you will miss education terribly, those “aha” moments that students have, the collegial conversations, and the friendships inside of the building, those are the hard parts of leaving. That and seeing the person replacing you, doing things differently than you did.

You know that the person who replaces you has come into your old job with their own background, hopes, dreams, ideas and plans on how to do what they were hired to do and

they will do it differently than you did.

After all there is only one you.

They will have a hard time living up to the standards you have set and if you go about undercutting their efforts, you will diminish your reputation and legacy.  So let them be who they are and let them do it their way.

Those of you who are retiring, I salute you for your service to our youth.

Those who are resigning and moving on to other endeavors I wish you  success.

Just keep remembering.

You were the one that decided to leave – now “just do it”.

How will you handle it – not being at your school anymore?Well – I hope!