Photo: Alexa Tegtmeier with a few of her teacher BFFs!
They say it takes a village to raise a child; many hands molding each one into the masterpiece he or she becomes. The same goes for teachers. No matter how new you are to teaching or how many years you’ve been on this career path, it is easy to fall into a routine and trap yourself on an island—an island where you are trying so desperately to help your children grow academically and emotionally that you forget all about the village that helps lift each and every child up and, most importantly, makes you the best you that you can be.
It is so important to surround yourself with colleagues and find a group of people within your school community that you can depend on and collaborate with. By doing this, you are creating a strong community that is going to benefit you and your kiddos!
I have worked at my fair share of elementary and middle schools and some of my best experiences stem from the relationships I was able to create at those schools. Those relationships got me through some really tricky times and helped me grow as an educator. If you don’t have a teacher best friend forever, here are three reasons you should find yourself that special person.
1. To collaborate better with other teachers
Get off your island and out of your classroom! Make it a point to engage in discussion with teachers around your building. They can be great tools to think through ideas, lessons, or issues you see arise.
I work so closely with my grade-level team to write lessons and come up with engaging ideas to present material. There is no way I would have the brainpower or time to get done by myself what we get done together. Your teacher bestie doesn’t have to be from your grade level—I lean on people in all different grade levels and positions, and what I appreciate the most about them is if I ask for something they don’t hesitate to be there for me.
2. To improve professional development
They say the best professional development comes from your building. Your building has a staff that ranges from new teachers to seasoned veterans who are all BUZZING with ideas and doing incredible things in their classrooms. Get to know everyone in your building; all teachers have different strengths that you can learn from and use to better yourself. I have different go-to teachers for when I need help with math strategies, guided reading teaching points, or ways to better reach my English learners. You’d be surprised by how willingly your colleagues will come and observe you or lend a helping hand!
3. To save your sanity!
There is nothing better than being able to depend on someone when the times get rough, when things don’t go the way you planned, or (better yet) when celebrating the little victories your students are accomplishing. There is something to be said about having a colleague who can read you like a book, know in an instant if something is wrong, or give you a pep talk.
My teacher friends bring me SANITY. They help me get through the day and are there to laugh about it with me at the end. It is nice to have a thought partner to help remind you how incredible you are and how hard you work. My teacher friends are my copilots to go get coffee, entertain my crazy ideas or projects (or be honest if they aren’t so hot), talk me off a ledge when I am googling other careers for teachers (just kidding!), and laugh with me when the same student brings in ice cream as a snack for the third day in a row.
While teaching is extremely rewarding, it isn’t easy and at the end of the day it’s nice to have someone who can relate to all the hard work you’re putting forth.
Gratitude is something that is so important to practice—it not only makes people feel appreciated or valued, but I find it sparks the fire within me and reminds me of my purpose in teaching. It is the motivation I need to keep on keeping on!
So, take a moment out of your busy week and write a quick note of gratitude to an educator you work closely with; it just might be that something they need to get them through the week!