Maybe this is something we all do: We block the memories of our first few days of teaching. I was talking with a colleague who started teaching next door to me on the same day four years ago. We were trying to remember what our first day was like. We couldn’t recall anything specific. We knew it wasn’t easy. We knew we must have been locked in our rooms, desperately trying to survive. It’s amazing how quickly we adapt as teachers.
I was reminded of this when talking to my one of my new colleagues this year. She was able to procure a projector, but no cables. I remembered that I had an extra VGA cable and was not using a power cable connected to an old iMac that no longer works and sits in the corner of my room. So I let my colleague use them. All it took was this small gesture for me to realize how important it is to make connections with each other. Even though we eventually found the bulb in her projector was out (go figure), I was still able to answer many more questions she had and hopefully make her feel more comfortable in her new career.
It doesn’t take much: checking in with a new teacher, helping someone work the copier, giving a colleague one of your extra white board erasers, showing them around campus, introducing them to other colleagues, talking to the principal to make sure new teachers have projectors that work. As professional educators, we know how to advocate for ourselves, but it is also easy to forget there was a time when we didn’t.
Here are some of my challenges this year: to make a lunch date with my department members and grade level team; to personally meet all of our new teachers; and most importantly, to get out there and make some connections. What are yours?