THRIVE by Rejecting Isolation

When I was little, my dream job was a meteorologist. I envisioned myself being a weather-girl/storm chaser that studied all the crazy weather phenomenon, mostly inspired by the movie Twister. My vision was set until my sister attended a college fair and got information for me about becoming a meteorologist. I realized that studying weather was more science and technical focused and less social and relationships. As a person who thrives on social interactions, I realized that maybe meteorology wasn't for me. While nerding out to my mom about something I learned in AP Biology, she suggested that I become a teacher; I enjoyed learning and talking with people about what I learned. Long story short: I became a teacher and it was the best decision for me.

This is why the third chapter in Aaron Hogan's Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth struck such a chord with me: teaching is inherently social. It is so easy to isolate yourself as a teacher, but that isolation can cause you to continue your belief in the perfect teacher. Thankfully, there are so many ways that you can avoid that isolation. 

Mentor Teachers. As a new teacher, I appreciated that the BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment) program provided me with mentor teachers. They both gave me constant support, encouragement, and ideas during my first two years of teaching and I'm forever grateful for that support. I know that California provides the BTSA program, but I'm not sure about other states. If you aren't specifically given a mentor, I would suggest asking another teacher in your department for support.

Twitter. When I wandered into the edtech world, no one at my school site was using technology so I turned to Twitter for inspiration and ideas. As a newbie, I felt I had nothing to contribute so I started as a lurker in Twitter chats and then eventually started participating. It may seem intimidating, but every one has ideas to contribute, even if you think you don't. I have to admit that my participation has dwindled over the last two years and I want to get back in the routine of engaging with educators around the world. 

Bonding with Colleagues. Every school has a different dynamic with the teachers. My former school site would have monthly potlucks organized and put on by participating teachers. There was no clearly established staff lounge for us to use on a daily basis so I started eating lunch with my fellow new teachers. My current school has occasional family gatherings, parties, and daily get-togethers in the staff. Regardless, get engaged with your colleagues and get to know them. Its true that sometimes staff lounges can become negative with complaining, but not every teacher is that way and you don't have to go every day. Connect with the teachers and, who knows, maybe they have some ideas you hadn't considered!

Mentoring New Teachers. When I came to Minarets, I had completed BTSA so I didn't have an automatic mentor teacher. Within the first day of meeting my new colleagues, they all warmly accepted me, supported me, and constantly checked in with me. There was one teacher in particular that would come in every so often in the morning just to check in and talk. Looking back, I really appreciated this since it gave me even more accepted and supported. This is why I would like to challenge myself this year to be a better support for the newer teachers on campus; its so easy to get lost in your own world and forget that maybe your neighbor is struggling. I plan to follow in my colleague's foot steps and check in sporadically with teachers. 

These are some ideas based on my experiences, but Aaron Hogan has even more in his book.  Yet, what should out to me the most was the following quote: 

"Teaching trends will fall in and out of fashion. But the relational impact we have will outlast us by far"
Of course, this quote can easily be applied relationships that we build with our students, but I like that it also challenges us to apply this thinking to our colleagues. As teachers, we have to remember that our impact isn't just with our students, but with our colleagues and fellow teachers.


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