By the sounds of the ads on TV and the fliers in the Sunday paper, summer is coming to a rapid conclusion. I received my annual back-to-school letter from my building principal. It is time for me to take out the periodic chart and dust off the beakers for my 38th year of teaching chemistry. My summer experiment is now coming to a conclusion.
It has been my first summer off by choice in 37 years of teaching. It has been my “Practice Retirement Summer.” I turned 62 in July and am now Social Security eligible! The most common question I keep getting asked is: When are you going to retire? This summer was supposed to help shape that answer.
I have been asked: What are you going to do this summer? The answer came in a variety of responses. One thing I did for sure was absolutely nothing! I wanted to see what it would be like not to have to be anywhere all summer. My wife and I also made it a regular Friday routine to go out for breakfast. That was a resounding success.
I took a few staff development classes in July, so I am now somewhat versed in the use of lab probeware in my chemistry classes this fall. I met with the retired guys I worked with for over 30 years for their biweekly breakfast meetings, and I have to say I enjoyed that a lot.
I read my morning paper, in the morning, with my coffee. How nice it is to read the news before it is reported on TV. Retirement isn’t sounding too bad so far. I started commenting on various News articles online under a pseudonym.
I wanted to watch the entire five seasons of “Breaking Bad” before the final season started. I finally met Walter White, the chemistry teacher gone bad. I have no connection with Walter other than he is a chemistry teacher. I am no Walter White.
I intended to do some reading, since my daughter bought me some books she knew I would like. They are still in the pile on the stairs; somehow that was too much like schoolwork. I’ll get to them one of these days. Maybe when I retire for real.
I was subjected to the litany of anti-teacher jokes and put-downs about how teachers have their summers off. Those remarks became old and stale a long time ago.
I saw a few movies, and rediscovered on TV a few old cop shows from my youth. “Dragnet” and “Adam-12” are corny but I still liked watching Joe Friday working the day watch, and Officers Malloy and Reed in action. Funny how much crime Malloy and Reed fought in a mere 30 minutes every day. That was not a high point in my practice retirement.
As the summer of ’13 winds down and my experiment nears an end, I have decided I’ll be back at school for another year. I will not imitate Walter White, and “Dragnet” and “Adam-12” will continue on in reruns without me.
Practice retirement was just that – practice. So kids, get ready, because on Sept. 3 your copies of the periodic chart will be passed out and your quest for elemental knowledge will begin.
Who knows, I may have to make the summer of 2014 “Practice Retirement: The Sequel.” I am not sure permanent retirement is happening in the immediate future. I think I’ll practice until I get it perfect.