There are so many grumblings about being a teacher in Illinois lately. A big bill was just passed called SB1. It’s a big complicated bill, but the short version is that teachers will have to work longer before retiring. I am currently 38, which means the following for me: “Retire at 57 years and 8 months to 61 years and 8 months with at least 20 years of service for a reduced benefit and at 62 years and 8 months for full benefits.” (from the TRS website).
Some people don’t realize that teachers don’t pay into Social Security, at least not in Illinois (not sure how other states do it). We pay into our own retirement system called TRS. If not a teacher, I would be in the same Social Security system as everyone else. Guess what, my retirement age would then be 67. So, even with the new “unimproved” retirement system, I am still retiring earlier than most of the rest of the population. Younger teachers are affected more, but unless I’m incorrectly reading it, they are still retiring before they are 67.
The bill contains a lot of other mumbo jumbo that has too many numbers in it for me to understand. All over Facebook teachers are ranting about it.
Now call me crazy (many of my fellow teachers will), but here’s my opinion: If you are relying on your employer to provide your full retirement income, you are not being very financially responsible. This includes teachers and non teachers and EVERYONE. “Don’t go into teaching!” They are ranting. As if teaching is the only profession with a questionable retirement system. The problem is that it has been pretty darned good in the past, and that is changing.
I don’t really like finances much, but I do plan to retire at some point and reap the rewards of my life’s work. Thus, I have a separate retirement account for myself that I manage, just like my husband has a separate retirement account in addition to Social Security. We also have some other savings situations going on. We also are raising two smart kids that we fully intend to move in with once they have their own houses (just kidding about that last one).
And then there’s Common Core. Once again, all over Facebook, people are ranting about Common Core State Standards (CCSS from now on to save my fingers). As if this is the first time the state is shoving standards down our throats. Can I tell you a little secret? I actually like the CCSS a lot better than the previous standards we had. Can I tell you another secret? I am not the only teacher I know who feels this way.
I’m not going to lie–I do feel a bit frazzled this year. Between teaching a new grade level and switching over to the CCSS, I am experiencing a “first year” all over again. But guess what, it was time to start fresh. I was getting a little stale. CHANGE CAN BE GOOD, y’all, and it often is. I think about the things I learned and did as a kid, and I see how far we’ve come as teachers. I’m excited to see how far we can go.
If you are reading this and thinking of becoming a teacher, here’s my advice: If you have a true passion for educating young people, DO IT. It is a wonderful, rewarding job. Yes, you will experience tremendous changes in your career. You will be asked to do more, help more, and deal with more crap, but guess what, IT’S ALL WORTH IT.
Teaching is not unlike running. Sometimes it’s hard, really hard. Sometimes, you feel like you can’t even do it. Sometimes, you wonder why you’re even trying. But then other days, it all works. Things click, and they GET IT. An “educable moment” turns into something amazing. Your struggling student turns a corner. Your reluctant writer starts to write. It’s the “runner’s high” of teaching. And it IS a high. Those days, I feel like I could take over the world. And then a whole lot of days, most days, are pretty uneventful. I do my job, and I love it, just like most days, I go for runs, and I love them. They’re not great, they’re not horrid, but they’re pretty darned good, and I’m lucky for the ability to run them.
I’m lucky to be a teacher.