by Jenn Hayhurst
Think back to when you made the decision to become a teacher. Is being a teacher what you thought it would be? When I entered into my teaching career, I found it to be quite different than what I thought it would be. In many more ways, it is so much better. So far, I have experienced unexpected and wonderful learning that has developed my teaching in ways I could not have envisioned. My learning on the job has unlocked deep insights into students’ academic growth and social-emotional wellbeing that have changed my whole approach to education. Yet, on the flip side, I have also experienced all forms of struggle. Some days I am worn out to the bone physically. Other days I’m emotionally drained, and still others I am over-saturated intellectually. Sometimes I have a trifecta of struggle and experience all three! I know I am not alone, for so many of us teachers, this is the truth.
It is no wonder, that teachers need to fill their reserves with support. We need to be part of something bigger to celebrate our victories and make strategies for our failures. On September 19, 2019, we, the #G2Great team, dedicated a chat to discuss building and maintaining support systems.
A school is comprised of living environments that are constantly in a state of flux. Classroom needs change, students change, initiatives change, curriculums change. In these ever-changing and dynamic environments, educators need support systems. They need them so they may not only survive but thrive. A supportive community is a key asset for teachers everywhere. Being part of a caring group helps to stave off isolation. Having others to bounce off ideas and to commiserate with makes all the difference. Sometimes the relationships we forge over time have the power to go well beyond our classrooms and make deep and meaningful impacts on our lives.
What might a healthy support network offer? As usual, #G2Great PLN members had some good ideas to share on the subject. When it comes to support networks, some patterns emerged. Teachers are looking for communities that value learning, gratitude, and wonder. Learning together promotes deep bonds. Keeping our sights fixed on our students fills us with a sense of gratitude that may keep us student-centered. I believe a deep appreciation for wonder makes us more authentic and connected to what school ought to be.
I am a much better teacher today than I was when I started out. I am better because I surrounded myself with the brilliance of others. My support systems are comprised of many facets. Sometimes support comes from the generosity of the teachers that work alongside me. Sometimes I find support systems in books, professional journals, and (of course) social media company I keep. What if we all had access to these kinds of support system? I can imagine that there would be far less teacher burn-out and greater satisfaction and productivity. Sometimes we have to imagine these things first in order to make them our reality.