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Reconnect With Colleagues More Effectively than Just Chit-Chat

Thursday, August 14, 2014 -- Scott Sterling

There’s nothing wrong with talking about the summer for a bit with the first person you see during pre-school week. But remember: aside from faculty meetings and the occasional in-service day, this week is one of the few times you get to “talk shop” with your colleagues (after all, who wants to talk about pedagogy during lunch?).

Why not make this reconnection opportunity more beneficial for everyone?

Find a mentor (or mentee)

Mentoring is one of the most valuable relationships a teacher can develop. Studies show that having a mentor is also a determining factor in whether a teacher stays in the profession or not. Also, one of the best ways to improve your craft is by observing and discussing teaching.

Perhaps you already have a mentor/mentee relationship with someone. It’s not bigamy if you have more than one. It never hurts to have friends, or to extend yourself as a friend to another teacher who might need one.

Talk to that teacher that always seems to be on the cutting edge in pedagogy and see what you can steal from them.

We all know the teacher or teachers who are always the first to try something new. They were doing blended learning before it was cool. They had flipped their classroom two years ago. For some, that’s annoying. For forward-thinking teachers, that’s someone you should know better.

Connect with them and find out what they’re working on for this year. That doesn’t mean you have to quickly adopt whatever they’re doing, but it might be worth it to check in periodically during the year to see how it’s going. Maybe it’s worth a look in the future.

Reach out to the new teachers.

You remember your first year. For many teachers, it might have been the most stressful year of their lives. Unfortunately in many schools, the veterans politely introduce themselves, half-heartedly offer support, and then go back to their existing cliques.

Not only is extending yourself to the rookies good karma, it can also be beneficial to you. It might have been a while since you’ve been in college, so maybe they have some new tricks. It’s also beneficial to review your own craft with someone new. It gets you thinking about your work in a different way.

Talk to your department head or administrator in depth about what this year’s priorities are and how you can help.

This might be filed under “administrator’s pet”. So be it. Nevertheless, it’s better to be prepared for what’s coming down the pike rather than to be blind-sided at some faculty meeting or PLC. Just stop into a superior’s office or classroom and chat for a minute. If anything, it will give them something to think about during your appraisal.