The poet Robert Frost said, “I am not a teacher, I am an awakener”.
Teachers awaken hope, ignite the imagination, instill values and mould students to be the best version of themselves. They are a necessary and irreplaceable fixture in life, a beacon to guide a learner. Having been a teacher equips them with skills that can be used to launch post-retirement work too, whether it’s teaching in a different setting minus the burden of administrative duties or taking up mentorship of teachers or young professionals in different fields.
Teaching is also a completely viable option for those who have been working in other domains apart from education thanks to training programs that can help one with nuances like lesson planning, content creation, and classroom management – all very learnable skills!
Opportunities for Retired Teachers
Retired teachers have a wealth of experience that is in demand in various fields. Using their teaching skills in retirement is to extend the good work of moulding young minds and creating nurturing learning environments. The type of role may differ as a teacher is able to also mentor, inspire, instruct and influence across different age groups and in a variety of scenarios from schools to the workplace. At the school level, a retired teacher can also be a counsellor, consultant or mentor. In the workplace, they can train, strategize, counsel, teach and inspire.
Addressing the Shortage of Teachers in India
A recent UNESCO study titled ‘2021 State of the Education Report for India: No Teacher, No Class’, reports a shortage of 1 million teachers in India at the school level. Retired professionals may play an important role in addressing this deficit. Schools will need to change their hiring policies to allow retired professionals to tutor online, part-time and with an honorarium. There are already examples like schools within the Teach for India programs having hired retired professionals from WisdomCircle to volunteer as teaching assistant to teaching fellows in their classrooms!
Retired professionals bring a wealth of decades of experience to the table and will be driven by their passion to make a social impact by stimulating young minds.
Diverse Professionals Drawn to Teaching
Professionals from diverse fields are also drawn to teaching once they retire. If their jobs involved people management, dissemination of information and knowledge, nurturing teams, and motivating output with a willingness to upskill, then they are well suited for this challenge. And even if not, there is help available to learn the skills needed to share one’s practitioner knowledge with younger minds from those who have been there, done that.
For many, economics dictated their original careers. After retirement armed with refresher courses and necessary certification, their love for teaching will not only satisfy them, but it will also benefit many. Older teachers bring their expertise from earlier careers which have real-world credibility that resonates with students who value the proffered practical insights.
Stepping into a new field, that too after 60, brings up a host of concerns and queries that need to be addressed.
Some common questions and our answers to them are as below:
- Can I become a teacher at 60?
The answer is a firm ‘Yes’. As long as you are reasonably healthy and willing to obtain the necessary certification or training, teaching is worth pursuing and you will make a difference.
- How can the skills from my earlier career be useful in a teaching role?
Age is an advantage post-retirement. Years of experience can translate into activities for students providing experiential learning. You may bring a new perspective that was gleaned from a career aside from education which gives new meaning to old curricula. Also, if you have done any of the following – raised children, mentored colleagues, trained groups – you already have some insights into teaching. The grey also adds gravitas and an authoritative demeanor, and therefore respect from students and colleagues alike.
- I do not have any particular subject expertise. How can I enter the teaching field?
The first way to teach a subject is to invest in training for it. There are other avenues like counselling, planning syllabi, providing activity-based programs, being an academic administrator, designing online courses, tutoring students who need extra help, or even working with an NGO in Education to help with non-teaching tasks. Education organizations need a lot more than just teachers!
- What specific qualities from an office environment can be inculcated in students?
Qualities like punctuality, working in teams, problem-solving, critical thinking and meeting deadlines in the workplace are also applicable in the teaching environment and students will appreciate real–life scenarios.
- What unique qualities can I bring to teaching as a retired professional?
Besides your unique self, since you have faced a variety of challenges before retirement, you are equipped with the strength to address any testing environment. Importantly, you are more likely to not sweat the small stuff!
The post-pandemic teaching scenario is conducive for retirees. Many educational institutions experimented with online teaching and hence are open to virtual sessions. Ed-Tech companies require teachers to prepare content, teach online and add value to give themselves a competitive edge. Some myths persist about teaching online as a retiree, but the truth is listed below:
- Online teaching and E-mentoring can be a good source of income.
- It is possible to teach part-time and at a suitable pace with the option of remote access.
- Ageism is not an issue. In fact, students often prefer teachers who have experience.
- A must-have is a computer and a good Wi-Fi connection.
- Academic, extracurricular, business-related and life coaching are all areas where e-learning is possible.
- Lesson plans, teaching aids, good communication skills and activity-based courses make for great online sessions.
- Remember the phrases: “I will never retire”; “I will die a few years after I retire”; “My children will care for me after I retire”; and “my needs post-retirement will be limited”, need not be true. Plan in advance so that the challenge is not overwhelming when it has to be faced.
Even if one has had a successful career before retirement, re-entering the workforce in the Education space requires a tweak of skills and attitude:
- It is important to stay healthy because there are stressors associated with entering the workplace post-retirement.
- Do get back to a routine that provides structure.
- Be prepared to fit into roles that are different from earlier ones.
- Upgrade technological and academic skills when required.
- Prepare to associate with a multigenerational workforce.
- Be aware of personal financial liabilities.
- Finally, ensure that you put aside some me-time to recharge, relax and reinvent yourself.
Convinced? Well then what are you waiting for? Sign up with WisdomCircle to start (or continue) your teaching journey today. There are online math teaching (CueMath) and career counselling (IDC), and many more opportunities currently on the WisdomCircle platform.