Colleagues can turn into soulmates in any professional setting. Company team-building practices and happy hours are designed to facilitate bonds with the hopes of improving work culture and increasing employee retention. Hey, it makes sense. The people with whom we interact with daily can certainly make or break our attitudes towards the workplace.
For educators, these friendships are more than just a friendly face to do a Dunkin-run with. Most of us spend our days in isolation from other adults, yet the work we do, should be (and often is), extremely collaborative.
Here are three reasons why it’s not at all crazy that your teacher besties might be some of the most important people in your lives.
Listen & Learn
Unless you are blessed to be at a school that has an innovative and complex PLC program (if so, don’t take it for granted), chances are you don’t have the opportunity to spend ample time in other educators’ classrooms.
The intervisitation environment is a rarity for most schools as cultures (and egos), that dominate may not allow for the normalization of these practices. Mentorships typically last the first 10 months of your teaching career, and let’s face it, during that time your priority is simply to stay afloat and to survive your next teaching period. Once you begin to feel semi-established in your practice, the opportunities to learn from others begin dwindling. The best we can do is to listen and learn from our peers, and yes, that includes (friendly) teacher lounge chats and happy hours.
Let your teacher besties become your textbooks, your manuals. What differs in our line of work from other professions is that teachers are (generally) open and inviting to learning from one another. While the organizational structure lacking incentives and bonuses may be frustrating in some regards, it certainly helps facilitate a type of environment where sharing best practices almost certainly won’t result in losing a promotion or a salary-cut.
If you truly embody a growth mindset, beyond having it plastered on your bulletin board, then prioritizing your teacher-bestie relationships, and learning from them, is a must.
We often deal with circumstances that no teacher-preparation program could have ever even remotely prepared us for. The theatrics presented in most courses don’t apply to the challenges we face daily when we are forced to tap into our best instincts and pray we make the right decisions.
There is no manual for dealing with a condescending parent or a substitute who has left your classroom space in total chaos. During these times, we rely on validation from our teacher bestie(s).
Should I have told my administrator? Should I have typed that email? Those phrases may emit a lack of confidence, but especially in our early years in the profession, validation from (trustworthy) teacher bestie(s) can help us interpret situations from different lenses, particularly when we are emotionally invested in a certain situation.
We depend on them for an honest opinion at times when we question our best educator instincts.
Tears That Only We Understand
Did that observation report really matter? Is our job in jeopardy? Nope! A missed promotion? Probably not! A raise? In most states, most certainly not. Whether they come on during the period following a visitation that fell through, or at the nail salon after a grueling week, teacher tears are real.
These emotions can often seem silly to partners at home, or friends in other professions. The point is, these emotions are real. Resentment to others who invalidate these emotional moments can build up, and therefore, having teacher besties to lean on is critical. Only an educator recognizes the disappointment of believing we let a student down, or the numbness of giving it your all, yet feeling unseen by an administrator.
Whether you met them through a teacher-preparation program, a mentorship, or in the hallway, take a moment to thank the teacher bestie(s) you have come across so far in your career. Reflect on the decisions they have helped you make and the validation you received from them when you needed it most.
Cheers to my “highly-effective” squad and my Albany CITE fam!