Ahhh.....it's hard to follow litprof on this board, b/c she writes so eloquently, but I am happy to share my timeline with you.
During the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays in 2010, DH and I began to discuss the possibility of my retirement. For me, the joy of teaching had been almost completely extinguished due to unmotivated students/parents, and an ever-increasingly micromanaged work environment. Truly, I think DH had his self-preservation in mind as much as my own!
I was bringing a lot of stress right back home with me, and that wasn't good for any of us.
At that time, I researched to find the next retirement seminar that would be held in or near my district. I chose one that was at the regional service center in early February of 2011. After that very informative seminar, DH and I crunched the numbers and discovered that I could retire, but it would mean making some sacrifices here and there. (You will find that you'll save $$$ in a lot of ways, simply by not having to buy work clothes and school supplies!)
I kept my plans under my hat until mid-March, when I told my principal. I had mailed off my paperwork that morning---at a location away from school! Feeling that I needed to give my P the professional courtesy of letting him know first, I took a week to digest the reality of putting my retirement plans in motion before telling my team.
By the end of March, I gathered my grade level team together and told them. It was very emotional, but things really ratcheted up when another member said, "Well, since we're talking about retiring..." I asked them not to tell anyone, feeling that I could trust them.
At that time, on the advice of retired PTers, I began secretly cleaning out a few things each afternoon. I had so much stuff! I sorted out the things I was going to offer to others and put them away in my cabinets. Each afternoon for weeks, I would fill my classroom trashcan. The custodian figured it out right away, but he kept my secret, bless him.
By mid-April, everyone began asking everyone else whether they were staying, transferring, moving to a new grade level, etc. I am such an open book that I decided to tell a few key people, knowing that it would soon be all over school. At that time, I told my team and my P I didn't mind if they told---but only if someone specifically asked.
Some of the reactions I got were surprising in that most were very happy for me, but a few were almost rude. It seemed like they resented me for being able to retire. Fortunately, they were in the minority and I didn't let it get to me.
Along with 4 other teachers, I had a very nice retirement reception. Several people we used to teach with (who had retired) came to the party, and it was a nice kind of closure for me.
Keep watching this board over the year, and ask questions as they come up for you. You will find us to be very supportive and informative, not to mention relaxed and refreshed.