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Is It Better to Get Terminated or to Retire From a Teaching Job?

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Fired. Laid off. Terminated. Forced to resign. Retired. The terminology may be different, but all mean that the teaching job you had is no longer yours. Although the end result -- no job -- may be the same, you may have a choice in the matter. If you do, consider the consequences of allowing yourself to be terminated or choosing retirement instead.


If you suspect you are going to be terminated, one of your first actions should be to review your contract. Many teachers have contracts with the institution they work for, and your contract may have some specific language about issues such as severance pay, retirement pay and continuing benefits. In some cases, the contracts are the result of collective bargaining agreements between an employer and a teachers’ union, so you may want to consult your union representative. It may also be a good idea to consult a lawyer, especially if you think your pending termination may be based on age discrimination or another protected characteristic.


Retirement might be an option in some cases, but there could be some significant “ifs.” Retirement qualifications may be related to age or length of service. If you are too young or have too little experience, retirement might not be an option. Other considerations are what your retirement pay would be, whether you will still have benefits such as health care and if not, whether you qualify for Medicare or can afford private health insurance. If you are close to or past the age at which you can collect Social Security, you may have financial options that a younger teacher may not have.

Taking Another Job

Being laid off when the school downsized is not the blot on your resume that being fired for cause would be. If you plan to go back to work in the teaching profession, retirement could be the best choice to avoid negative information on your resume. If you plan to leave the area or move into a different field, there may be no real difference between termination and retirement in terms of getting another job. You may even be able to negotiate some specifics in the termination process, such as what kind of a reference the organization will give you and how you will be listed in their HR system; both can affect your chances at another job.

Other Issues

Teachers have some specific protections related to job termination, such as tenure. People also often have misconceptions about what is protected in a profession such as teaching and what activities can get you fired. Employers often review social media sites, and inappropriate activities may prevent you from getting another job; whether you choose termination or retirement may be irrelevant. Each situation is different and you must make the best decision for your circumstances. Suzanne Lucas, a former human resources professional who writes for CBS News, notes in an August 2012 article that you should always explore your options and not sign anything under pressure.


Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

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