Week 4: Being an Island, Staying Connected

I make a commitment to be as honest as possible in each of these posts – I really do believe that half-truths in teaching cause as much trouble as lies. Honesty is the same thing as integrity, and both those things make life simpler and more valuable.

The current political climate is bad for integrity. (If anyone is reading this 5 years later, or something, Trump was just elected.) People are angry, sad, confused, and they will be that way off and on for a long time. This leads to an extremely divisive society, and for some teachers who have felt this way at work, you know how much of your soul can be sucked away by that kind of climate. So it is as good a time as any to talk about not being an island.

Unlike classroom discipline tips, the advice to stay connected to other people in order to not get buried in work is prevalent. So what can I add to the party? Perhaps just a comment on leaving work at work. Early in my teaching years I was the kind of teacher who thought every activity outside of work had to be in some way connected to work, meaning that I spent most evenings at school competitions and events or volunteering for school clubs and community events. This approach does help a new teacher get to know the community they have chosen to join, and may help stave off miscommunication with parents down the road. However, for any teacher, too much time at “work” will make you go crazy (you may find yourself at your computer, typing the same sentence over and over, until you crack and stagger out into a snowstorm…you know what I mean?)

I recently met with a friend who just began their first year of teaching – they have joined the noble ranks of the teaching profession. This means that we were able to have a moment of telepathic understanding about teacher life. The moment was this: that you can easily be an overwhelmed zombie during the week, and on the weekend, you remember that you are an interesting person with a great personality and lots of friends. Where does that person go during the school week?

So, leave work at work. Do not live, eat, and breathe your job. The proof that this is important comes from teachers who are leaving the profession because they feel as though they can’t keep up – one is linked below in the extra resources. Staying connected to yourself is as important as connecting with friends, co-workers, and the community. And when John Donne said that “no man is an island” I do not think he meant only that everyone needs help, or that it is impossible to hide from society. I think he also meant that no man is an island inside – everyone is multi-faceted. Think about the fact that Mr. Donne was born in 1572 – math teachers, how long has staying connected been an issue?no-man-is-an-island-dwight

The other main point about staying connected regards how connected you are. Sadly, going out with fellow teachers on Friday night to drink and vent is not as helpful as we would like! You still wake up on Saturday with the same problems as last week. Here’s the hard part – opening up and getting help with your teaching; letting others know you are serious about improving. And why is this tough? See Week 2: Learning to Trust.

In a nutshell (or in a coconut shell carried here by a European or African swallow):

  1. Remember who you are outside of your job.
  2. Connect with others as honestly as you do socially.

Next week! I’ll introduce myself a bit more! In the meantime, share your tips about what works for you in order to stay connected to others and yourself!


Connect with these amazing sources:

What can you do in order to balance your life and learn from this teacher’s experience?http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/schools/a-teacher-speaks-out-im-effectively-being-forced-out-of-a-career-that-i-wanted-to-love-9695706.html

Need to smile right now? Check out Bored Teacher: https://boredteachers.com/blogs/the-faculty-room

Your local library! Singles or couples groups! Gyms! Pottery classes! Community music! Nonprofit volunteering!


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