How do you change careers at 55? Hot Conversation

I’ve been teaching for 13 years now. Nine of those years have been with gifted learners. I am passionate about meeting the social/emotional and intellectual needs of these children. However, in recent years I have become increasingly disillusioned with our educational system. The emphasis on standardized testing, NCLB, and data have left so many children behind. I really want to get out of the classroom and ideally, use my education and experience to train educators in how they can meet the needs of gifted learners. I have explored the possibility of teaching on the college level but that has not panned out (schools are cutting back drastically). I would even like to become a parent advocate for these kids. The problem is I have no idea how to go about doing this. Would a career coach be useful? Who could help me explore this?

Posted in work & money.

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27 Responses

  1. Generic Image starting over @ 50 says

    Hi I am 56 and I was down sized from my job of 23 years.  It can be scary to change jobs when you are 50 +.  I worked for corporate america 37 years so I decided I will work for myself.  I wanted something that would be  helpful to others in a positive way.  With the job marketing and healthcare being the top issue with everyone today, I found the right company that would help me and enable me to help others.  Go to my websites at http://www.everyonebenefits.com/luceal and http://www.apflexplus.com/luceal.  

    With the experience that you have you can start you a homebase business.  You can be a person consultant that would help the parents to idenify what their children needs and the teachers needs.  Good luck on your endeavors.

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  2. Generic Image goldfish says

    Hi, at age 50 I decided to leave a 25 year in accounting and become a rabbi.  I needed to learn to speak and read Hebrew before I was accepted into school.  I was accepted, and attended school for 5 years.  It was not easy….in fact many times I didn’t think I could do it.  But I did, and I have been a rabbi in a congregation for over two years now. It has been wonderful.  And knowing that I can still learn and continue learning has been a great lesson.  Whatever you decide to do, don’t let your age deter you.  What we lack in youth, we more than make up with our vast life experience.

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    • ladyquail ladyquail says

      Mazel Tov!  Your story and others like it are what makes envy in my life. This is the year that I am

      striving to return to Shul and enjoy connecting with other Jewish people. I live in a small town in

      South GA and the Shul is an hour drive. I work full time, have been building a 2bighouse for the

      past 34 months, plus being married to a nonjewish man. Sounds like excuses, and maybe I do use them, but due to the New Year and your post, I am definitely making the effort to return to

      Shul on a regular basis.


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      • Eileenh Eileenh says

         I, too, am married to a non-jewish man. We have found a wonderful reform synagogue where we were immediately made to feel welcome. Now, we are members of a larger extended Jewish family and I would not change one moment of it! Friday nights are special and my soul is filled for the week ahead. Amazingly, my Jewish husband did not go to Shul with me and I soon got out of the habit. How delighted I am that the habit has returned and we are welcomed and loved.

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    • Generic Image velvetann says

      Thanks for your story and encouragement about age goldfish.  best of luck to you.

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  3. Generic Image Margarita says

    Teaching at the college/university level would be a good start. I am a university professor – and teach a gifted ed course. You could also do professional development for school districts or conferences.

     Regarding the parent advocate role, you could contact special education lawyers – and ask to be put on an advocacy list.

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  4. ekalinosky ekalinosky says

    I commend you for the obvious effort you’ve put into redefining your life now at age 55. In my work as a certified retirement and recareer coach, I work with many professional women with similar stories about waking up at midlife to the realization that their current career path no longer fits, and while they have a desire to continue working, the direction that path is taking is new and different. I also know that each path is uniquely their own. A career coach can be very beneficial in helping you to assess where you are at this stage of your life and what strategy best suits your needs to get you where you want to be in the near and longer-term future. There are a number of assessments that only career coaches can give that make this a laser-focus process, as well as one-on-one and group coaching programs that can be tailored specicially to your needs. If you are interested in learning more, feel free to visit my website (http://www.evelynkalinosky.com) or email me at evelyn@evelynkalinosky.com for a complimentary coaching session. There are also resources on my website that may be helpful to you.

    Evelyn Kalinosky


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  5. Fran Young Fran Young says

    It’s a shame to waste your years of experience as a teacher in your goal to change the scenery of your life.  Here’s my suggestion:

    Consider teaching abroad.  The year I earned my tenure in the San Diego school district, and the year I bought my first house, I realized that I was not happy with the prospect of this ‘security’ and sameness for the next however-many years. 

    Always a ‘gypsy’ at heart, I attended an international teaching conference at before I knew it, the house was up for sale, my bags were packed, and I was teaching out of my field in the mountains of Guatemala.  From there I never looked back and went on (with my family, I should add) to teach in Thailand, Romania, Pakistan, D.R. Congo, and most recently in Ecuador. 

    My personal interests, such as reading (librarian) and literature (writing coach) and art (art teacher) led to openings  and contracts to teach classes that would not have be on my career path without ‘that’ silly piece of paper, in US schools.  No having to deal with the ridiculous “No Child Left Behind”, no typical district bull**** to deal with as a tenured teacher in financially strapped US schools, no freaked out admin when I chose to have a Kindergartener sit on my lap during story time in the library or hold hands on the playground, no pre-designed lessons forced upon me by a mandate from the State…..in all ways a wonderful experience as a teacher.

    The money, insurance, savings potential were wonderful, yet the experience of mentoring and knowing and teaching children from around the world is incomparable.  I could go on and on about my 17 years as an international teacher, but please do get in contact with me if you’d like to discuss this more.  I’m not a recruiter, I promise, but happy to share my experiences with others.  It’s been a fantastic lifestyle!  franyoung2002@yahoo.com

    Check out the blogs and forums on this website, too:  http://www.internationalschoolsreview.com  Here you can see the ‘hotspots’ to check out, the benefits possible, the ins-and-outs of getting a good job.  Good luck!!


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    • ladyquail ladyquail says

      clapping, clapping, clapping and Bravo. I read happiness in your life, so much that is missing

      for so many people. Thanks for your post.

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    • Generic Image Pattiann says

      Oh man! Wow! I will be 60 in December and became a widow 2 1/2 years ago.  I started college last February. I initially decided on a business degree but have been thinking lately of switching to teaching.  I have seen the things going on in education in this country and been thinking lately that maybe that is not what I want to get involved in…but this, this sounds exciting and has purpose.  Thanks so much!!!

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  6. Five to Nine Five to Nine says

    These days, for many of us, the question is thrust upon us whether we want it or not! :-)    I just turned 56, have been an administrative or executive assistant for most of my working life and I am now out of work.  The one job I had that I loved was as an intranet coordinator/webmaster but that was a few years ago and the technology has changed dramatically as is the norm for the IT world.  No way for me to catch up at this point and not sure it’s where I belong now. 

    I make and sell handcrafted jewelry (http://fivetoninedesign.1000markets.com, if you’d like to take a look) and I write short articles for online text brokers (for very, very little money) while I try to figure out what to do with myself at this age in these times.  I love writing but not sure I could make a living at it; love jewelrymaking but not sure I can make a living out of that either! :-)    But you know what I don’t love and never really did?  Being an administrative assistant – LOL! 

    Perhaps there are no coincidences — seems I have no choice but to find some way to keep myself solvent and it’s obvious that it will be something in the creative field.   Good luck to us both!


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    • msdebra msdebra says

      You can go back to school.  I am about to embark on that journey at 51 and looking forward to it.  The computer industry is ever changing.  You are already trained though, all you need is updating.

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    • Generic Image Pitbull Kitty says

      Hi Nine to Five:  I was so there while reading your post.  Your post described my life exactly (was a secretary for a gadzillion years – hated it!, l love to read and write, and I’m a beader!).  I’m contemplating retiring but don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.  And switching careers at 50ish is scary!  After 33 years on the job I am burnt out!  I will definitely follow this post to get some advice/ideas.  Thank you!

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      • Generic Image PHATDIVA says

        Hi Pitbull KLitty and Five to Nine:  I am already there.  I retired after 32 years of state service in MD as a police dispatcher.  I finally got tired of bossing around a bunch of men.  Packed up and moved to Florida.  Began looking for a full time job in 2007.  Got one in 2008 and had to leave less than 3 months later for by-pass surgery.  Back to looking for a full-time job.  Nothing.  Ageism appears to be in full effect.  So…before you retire Pibull Kitty, try to have something already lined up, if you want to continue working.  Or start your own business, like Nine to Five.    I have been lucky, because I do have my retirement to pay living expenses.

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  7. Generic Image Theresa S. says

    I am thinking you may want to offer your skills to home schooling groups around the country. Perhaps one on one with students who have problems in certain areas like reading or math? Offering your services can help you explore what is needed and grow from there. One thing is for sure, home schooling is gaining because students in pubic schools are not really learning. I wish you luck.

    Theresa S.

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  8. Peggy@MyNewNext.com Peggy@MyNewNext.com says

    Hi there:  Here are the things that stood out in your post: your passion for working with gifted learners, your desire to support the social, emotional and intellectual needs of these kids and their parents and in working with other educators to keep these “bright lights” burning instead of being run through the standardized world developed for the rest of “us”.  Have I got that right??

    This could be your time to strike out on your own. No need to do this all at once. You can stop holding your breath at that idea! But, you can develop a plan that will give you a roadmap “home” and OUT of the frustrating circumstances you find yourself in.  You may think you are not an entrepreneur—-but could you think of yourself as a CHAMPION for these kids and their families?  It changes the energy to focus on them doesn’t it?  So, the question would be how can you become that champion in your own mind and theirs?  Your desire to see these kids become all they can be, is very much needed to propel the world in the right/positive direction.  Sometimes frustration, as in your case,  is the best motivator.  A coach could help you with that, privately. 

    And,  I wonder if there is a way we could develop your plan via posts on Vibrant Nation so everyone could could benefit?  I am one of the Circle of Bloggers—find me at my site to learn more about me. My background in marketing, strategic branding and my own, long time entrepreneurial experience puts me in a unique position to see some pathways that you might not have thought of.  I have worked with a broad cross-section of people to develop their ideas into reality and would love to work with you right here, over time. Not sure how or if that would work—but we can check with the management at VN and see if there is a way.    Find me at http://www.ScreamsofConsciousness.com and see if moving forward with this idea strikes the right chord.  You see, helping you with your mission, also helps me with mine—-championing women at our age to re-invent themselves and become more fully “unfurled”—-magnificently flying our flag for all to see.

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  9. Trudycoaches Trudycoaches says

    I am very familiar with your situation as I have been working for many years with individuals who want some sort of career renewal or revisioning, (and I’ve done it myself!). I work as a career and life coach, and have over ten years experience working with individuals and groups at various stages of career transition. The good news for you is that you have a passion you’ve identified! The challenge sounds like it’s in the “what container do I put this passion in at this point” category. Sometimes, the container does already exist, and it’s a matter of identifying it, and sometimes, with just a little creativity, you can create one for yourself. If you’d like, you can visit my website at http://www.trudymcknight.com
    I would be happy to speak with you about your situation or you can email me at trudy@trudymcknight.com.

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  10. ashleysue ashleysue says

    Good for you about thinking of making a change. Career coaching maybe helpful. Or sometimes just sitting down with pen and paper to write out some thoughts can help give direction. decisional balance lists.

    After twenty two years at the same agency counseling people with substance abuse problems I have been job searching. I put my resume out there and looked at the opportunitites. Well I have had my second interview this week at a very innovative, creative agency that works as a team when counseling clients. I am excited and fearful at the same time thinking about leaving a job I have been with for so long and love. But change can be a good thing right? And fifty-four isn’t that old to start soemwhere new right? So let’s walk thru our fears together. Good luck to you.

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  11. Wind Dancer Wind Dancer says

    Have you considered the option of being a private tutor, or teaching teachers to tutor, so they can get out of schools and use those skills outside the school system?  There are a number of tutoring “agencies” nationwide that are in great need of tutoring skills, and they pay very well if you are aggressive enough to get your schedule filled fulltime.  You get to make your own appointments, set your schedule, so you can be as busy as you want to be and be paid well.  Additionally, you can find those who are most in need of your skills and give them as much time as you diesire.  Any free time you have can be filled by teaching interested education specialists what you feel is lacking in the system.

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  12. Generic Image Debbi says

    i am 51 thinking i would like to become a school counselor.  i too have seen many kids getting left behind and or overlooked.  not sure how to help but am very intersted …  i am not working in the education field I woould be changing careers… from what i gather that is difficult to do (time and money) not sure it woud be worth it… but i would like to develop some kind of curriculum to help and encourage kids lost in the system

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    • msdebra msdebra says

      Debbi,  There are all kinds of school grants out there right now for women.  Obama wants us all in school.  Check with your local college.

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  13. Generic Image katemood says

    After many years as a nurse, working for home health care companies, I left my corporate job and started my own Geriatric Care Management company, Avalon Senior Care Management, Inc. (www.AvalonSeniorCareManagement.com) and am in the process of gettin git up and running.  I think there is a big demand for the kind of coordination of care that seniors need these days, with the mobility of their kids and people living longer, etc.  Anyway, I’m not yet making much money, but am hopeful that it will take off.  In the meantime, I bought a bed and breakfast and have been running it for 7 years now (LOVE it!) and have met hundreds of nice people.  I will be 55 next June and feel that both of these “jobs” fit my age and allow me flexibility to do other things I love, such as stained glass art.  Although, since the downturn in the economy, the B&B has not done well and it is up for sale now (www.Riverbendretreatbb.com).  Good luck to all of you!

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    • msdebra msdebra says

      Hi Kate, Checked out your site.  The place is gorgeous!  Hate to see you loose it! Hope the economy picks up and maybe you can save it!

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    • rosalia rosalia says

      Katemood: I just went to AvalonSeniorCareManagement.com and I am impressed. Any interest in expanding to wisconsin, or at least sharing your lessons learned? I have been keeping this idea of senior care management on the back burner for years. But I have lots of doubts about starting my own business. What licensing/insurance/bonding/etc is needed?

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    • Generic Image "B" says

      I too checked out Avalon Senior Care Management…. looks wonderful. I left active nursing  a number of years ago, and assisted my husband in the start and running of a Neurofeedback clinic. I have felt the pull to begin something new on my own. And have been scatching my head with regards to what I could do that blended my nursing and my business experience. Although I am not certified as a case manager, I have done case management as well a geriatric care. I guess I am reiterating Rosalia’s questions. Any interest in expanding to GA? Or at least sharing what you know? And what you’ve learned?  Fabulous,fabulous idea! All the blessings in heaven on your enterprise.

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    • Generic Image velvetann says

      Your B&B is gorgeous.  good luck to you.

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  14. Generic Image velvetann says

    Trurofox,  It seems like you have gotten some great suggestions.  The teaching abroad suggestion is particularly interesting.  Have you considered being a trainer either in corporate setting or elsewhere?  This was suggested to me way back when at the beginning of my career and I ignored it.  Perhaps you could do this for income and pursue your passion of teaching educators on a part-time or weekend, consultant basis.

    i am 52 and after 30 yrs in corporate real estate and commercial real estate.  I was the unlucky one left without a chair in the musical chairs of this economy.   What seemed like the end of the world to me a year ago is now a positive thing.My daughters who are both nearly grown now both had learning disabilities, Aspergers Syndrome and ADHD.    I am finalizing a 25 yr divorce (positive thing).  It is something of a calling that I am returning to college for an additonal degree to teach Exceptional/Special Children.  After much consideration, this path certainly feels right but then I read about teachers with comments such as yours and wonder. I will pursue this regardless as options other than teaching in a school district are available.  Any thoughts would be appreciated.   Good luck to you.   

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