Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Set Up A Support System

I have started at 4 different schools and know what it is like to be the “new kid on the block.” I know that it usually took about 6 months before I felt comfortable in my new setting and didn’t regret the changes that I had made in my life. I knew at the time that my classroom and all that was involved with the actual students was important but taking care of me was even more important in order to be an effective teacher. Otherwise I would quickly burn out and lose my joy of teaching.

Here are some suggestions for setting up a support system.

1. Find veteran teachers and listen to their advice and suggestions. Really listen without interrupting (whether verbally or in your own thoughts) about why their suggestions won’t work. Remember that you don’t have to do whatever they say but keep an open mind and absorb what they are saying. See if you can’t use their wisdom and experience to fit your situation. You will also make many friends this way.

2. Keep some friends outside of the educational field. This will help you keep life in perspective. They may also be able to help you by giving you a new or different perspective. Sometimes teachers tend to have tunnel vision and can’t see the “forest from the trees.” (forgive me for the cliché!)

3. Think before you act and don’t react to conflict with students or colleagues. Try not to take criticism personally and move past the emotions to the facts. This will help you solve a problem faster.

4. Hang around positive people. Stay away from teacher groups/lounges where everyone whines and hates their jobs. This is like a virus and can infect you with negativism. I found this was true wherever I taught.

5. Branch out to teachers in other subject areas. You will gain new ideas that you might adapt to your classroom and also show the administration that you work well with all colleagues.

6. Have an outlet outside of teaching. I truly love teaching but too much of anything could be a bad thing (although I’m not sure I would have my fill of m&ms or chocolate kisses). Hiking outdoors helps me gather my thoughts and put things in perspective. Reading is my escape to all different adventures. Learning a new skill like crocheting keeps me on my toes.

Following steps like these can keep you from getting burned out and discouraged when things are not going as planned. Even if you do these things, everything won’t be perfect all of the time but you will have the strength and endurance to help you get through those tough times.

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