I'm Not Retired, I'm Repurposed!

"The boomers' biggest impact will be on eliminating the term 'retirement' and inventing a new stage of life… the new career arc."   Rosa Moss Kanter

Someone once asked how long I planned to teach.  At the time, I'd thought the question silly.  I'd finished my masters, got highly qualified in math and finished a Gifted Cohort certification.  I was rarin' to go, at least another decade.

Sadly, sooner than I'd planned, the day came when I was not a teacher, rather, a data-entry clerk and a test proctor.  That wasn't what I believed kids needed and certainly not a good use of my educational background, so I left the classroom.

Here's the thing- I wasn't done working with kids.  I loved their energy, their inquisitive nature, their senses of humor; and I loved the art of teaching.  So, while I officially retired from the classroom, I am not retired- I'm repurposed!

They always say, "Don't retire without a plan."  I had several plans. To be able to continue doing the things I loved doing with students,  I started an after-school enrichment company, Learning Adventures, LLC.   I would offer before- or after-school fun, challenging enrichment activities for grades 1-6. Not remediation- they got enough of that in school, but enrichment. (I thought the Kinders would be too tired after school, so I didn't include them.)  Each class would run 6 weeks and there would be a catalogue of choices in math, science and Readers' Theatre.

I loved doing all the things I'd advertised in the catalogue when I was in the classroom, so I polished them up, added classes for the younger kids and took my show on the road.
I had a few classes in different schools, and it was great fun working with all levels of kids that chose to be there, but I was spreading myself too thin between marketing and running the classes; so I shelved the after-school part of it to repurpose my purpose.

That's the beauty of repurposing- if something doesn't work, change it to something that does. And luckily, I had a fun, new diversion as I rethought Learning Adventures.  I joined Teachers Pay Teachers where I was able to continue creating enriching, differentiated activities, games and units for classroom use, K-8.

I was also volunteering in my friend's classroom, trying out my new math activities.  It was very friendly of her to keep switching grade levels, so I could test my new resources on different-aged kids.
While it was a good way to connect with kids, I wanted more.  I wanted to reach large numbers of kids and help put the joy of learning and exploration back, even if it was for a short time.

Still thinking… If I had to choose one of the original areas I offered in the after-school classes as my area of focus, what would it be?  I loved doing Reader's Dinner Theatre with kids- they loved writing their scripts and performing.   Science was always fun and, sadly, often pushed to the back burner in the classroom because of… well, you know.  But if someone who knew me heard my name, their first thought would be, "oh, she loves math."

It was (finally) obvious- I needed to do math fairs in the schools!  I had a plan!  My next post will share more about my first out-of-the-classroom math fair experience.  It was awesome!

And now I have a question for you- If you were going to repurpose yourself (or maybe you already have), what would you do?

Don't simply retire from something; have something to retire to.~ Harry Emerson Fosdick  
OK, maybe this was where I heard it. ;)

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