Reading through the previous posts, I see a common thread; the value of relationships. Building relationships are an integral part of our success as teachers and require initiative, consistency, and care. I often feel drained at the end of a school day, and need a quiet space and time to recharge (usually this is limited to my car and the time it takes to drive home!). When you think of how many children, parents, teachers, and support staff that you engage with in a day, it is understandable that teaching can take a lot out of you. On the flip side, it is also stimulating and energizing. It is the rewarding relationships with students and colleagues that motivate us and support us as professionals to keep doing what we do.
A new teacher has many things to keep in mind, but building positive relationships with a network of people will have lasting effects. A mentor may be a teacher that you are paired with based on a commonality recognized by administration, or simply by the willingness of the mentor to take on the role. It is an excellent opportunity to have a “go-to” person for your questions throughout the year. Often, there are other teachers that you meet that become unofficial mentors or supporters. In my first year of teaching I got to know the teacher that was the closest in physical proximity (the classroom next to mine) and although she taught a different grade and left the school a year later, she continues today to be an unofficial mentor for me, always receptive as a sounding board for my concerns and offers thoughtful guidance. Exchanging ideas with a colleague is another way to support your practice in a less formal way. There is a teacher at the other end of the hall at my school that I have connected with and we often cover an array of topics from instructional practices to field trip ideas to incorporating technology, all within a five or 10 minute conversation. It has become a routine that we walk to the parking lot (it’s a long walk) together once or twice a week as an opportunity for exchanging ideas and sharing information.
Build relationships and build a network to sustain your growth as a teacher. Be willing to ask questions and be willing to share your knowledge and experiences with others.