Sunday, July 17, 2011

Back to the Future: New Teachers Building Relationships with Veteran Teachers by Sharing Ideas

Building relationships with veteran teachers can bring rich rewards to first year teachers. As I remember my first year, there were plenty of veteran teachers in the school in which to build relationships. One of the veteran teachers in first grade would drop by my classroom while I was teaching. With my back to the door and facing the children, sometimes, when I turned around, voila, there she would be, standing in my room with her hands on her hips. She would smile at me, look around for a little while and then leave, slipping away as quietly as she had entered. Sometimes I would worry about what she was thinking and if I was doing something wrong. But through the two years I worked with her, I realized I needed to build a relationship with her. I buried the worried feelings I had by telling myself she was just interested in what I was doing. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I would go to her room and talk with her. She shared ideas and I shared mine. I learned she was an "old-maid" and was simply very interested in the lives of other people. I only worked at that school two years, but ten years later while eating family night supper at church, my life crossed paths with this particular teacher again. I was tickled to learn she had married. However, her love of knowing about the lives of other people had not disappeared.

To all the new teachers, I advise you to build relationships with veteran teachers. It won't happen without intentionality. Make an effort to get to know the people with whom you are working. If necessary, establish a specific time to meet. They can offer advice related to discipline and curriculum. They can share ideas and provide support and encouragement. They can answer your questions about school norms. This veteran teacher never knew that she planted the seed of willingness to share ideas with colleagues in me. From the two years I worked at Mamie Brosnan, one of the things I learned about sharing ideas was---if someone can take an idea that I have shared and make it bigger and/or better, I'm thrilled. I'm honored. I consider it a compliment. I'm thankful that I have helped someone else. Share your ideas. It's through sharing that we all learn more.

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