I asked a few teachers from around the country to find out how they got there.
Ed Mashburn, an educator from The South:
The money tip: Pay down debts quickly. For extra income, consider teaching extra courses on the college level during nights and summers. Experience and degrees could put you at a higher level on the pay scale.
The survival tip: Every day does not have to be perfect. Keep at it with a good attitude. Move if necessary and find a place where you fit in, and know that you are inspiring young lives.
Mashburn had at first a very rocky start to his career, going between teaching and then into supervisory positions in education, before returning to the classroom for 40 years. He has traveled and taught grammar school in Arkansas, Missouri and Alabama noting the contrast of small town life in the Ozarks, to larger suburban schools of enrollment into the thousands in other areas, as well as teaching on the college level during nights and summers. Reflecting back on his retirement three years ago, he said it was a pleasant coincidence to have a spouse who was also a teacher, and his own kids who studied within the same elementary schools.
“I guess the biggest key to surviving in the classroom was keeping in mind that every day does not have to be perfect,” he wrote via email. The kids will be there in the same desks tomorrow. We can always review and re-do.”
As for money, Mashburn shared that he and his wife put money toward annuities and paid double toward debts including cars and their house, to pay them off early. But with raising three children and living on two teachers’ salaries, money was still tight, but livable, he said.
Crawford “Crof” Kilian, a United States born educator in Canada
The money tip: Write or teach others how to blog and create extra income.
The survival tip: Work through early challenges and think of them as inspiration to keep you busy in later years.
Kilian was born in the United States but spent much of his time teaching in Canada, for over four decades. “I loved it, even when I didn’t know what I was doing and my students had to teach me. Then I began to get a grip after a couple of years, and my enthusiasm carried me through a few insecure years before I was a regularized faculty member,” he wrote via email.
Much like Mashburn, he has seen his fair share of change in courses over the years, and found ways of making supplemental income, because by retirement, he realized he had not saved enough during his career.
“My ever-changing teaching challenges gave me new material for more writing of my own: first a how-to book on writing (science fiction) and fantasy, then another on writing for the web, and then another on writing nonfiction books. As well, I wrote a couple of books on education issues, based on the articles I wrote as a weekly education columnist for a Vancouver paper. The two careers enhanced one another.”
“Before retiring I fretted that I wouldn’t have anything to do; I quickly learned otherwise. And I taught a colleague how to blog…I’m still eager to see what happens next” he shared.
Astrid said since she started teaching in 1985, and teaching was different back then, compared to today. Her tip: ignore the “edubabble” and look forward to pension, she wrote via email.
S.K. Welch, a retired art teacher in Michigan, had this brief thought to share via Twitter: “Don’t stay too long in one place. Keep moral focus and ethics strong and be thick-skinned.”
What are your financial plans as you move along in your teaching career or as you approach retirement? Will you look forward to retirement, fear you won’t have enough funds, or perhaps question what will keep you busy in your later years? Please share your thoughts and ideas with us.
Melissa Heule, Freelance Writer