Teaching is an isolating career. I didn’t realize this until I stepped outside of the teaching industry into a new industry, and reflected back on my teaching positions. I realized I have been working and teaching in isolation the whole time: all of my 8 years of teaching experience have been me in the classroom, and me and the students.
Our profession does not feel very isolated to start, and it might not even feel this way for a while, but reality is teachers teach the students alone in the classroom. The students keep us company throughout the day, and they make it all worth it, but our professions are by nature individualistic.
Solution: Advocate for other teachers.
- To not teach in isolation.
- To empower teachers in and outside of the classroom.
- To build a community.
- To create a positive environment in the classroom and school.
- Increase effectiveness in teaching and learning.
- To make a difference in education.
How to Become an Advocate for Teachers:
Take initiative & become a mentor: Many teachers, especially new teachers would really appreciate a teacher reaching out and offering advice, support or simply an ear to listen to. Reach out and offer your time to a teacher to provide advice, mentorship and support in and outside of the classroom. It’s important that the relationship here is fitting for both parties. So use your best judgment when it comes to reaching out to the right teacher, but usually teachers who are most isolated and do not have many teacher friends at school would really appreciate your reaching out.
Be Someone’s Champion: This post by Shelly Sanchez is really inspiring. Becoming someone’s champion is about supporting and cheering another teacher throughout their learning journeys. I recently encouraged a new educator on Twitter, Elisabeth Bostwick to share her great ideas with the Edutopia community. She wrote a post that resonated with many of Edutopia’s readers, and I was so happy to see her amazing ideas and work speak to not only myself but to other teachers to be passed on to their students. You can read her amazing post here. When I started my journey to becoming a connected educator, it was very encouraging to hear kind and supportive words from my PLN. I think it’s necessary to pay this forward to other educators, to build and foster a supportive learning community.
Extend Resources and Support: all teachers are always very receptive to new ideas and resources, sometimes it’s finding these inspirational resources that blocks many teachers from trying them out in the classroom. We teach our kids “Sharing is Caring” and that is exactly what we should do to support and advocate for each other as teachers.
I love Valerie’s message here. It speaks to the power of words and encouragement of others to not give up when things get tough:
Share what worked for you, even better, share what didn’t work for you. Chances are by sharing these ideas you are helping this teacher not only become a better teacher, but you’re also reaching out and telling her “it’s okay, I’ve been there, you’re not alone!”.
Offer Help in building a PLN: I have been a connected educator for almost a year now, and I can fairly say it has made me a better educator. Talk to your colleagues about how they can create their own Professional Learning Networks on social media.
Kris’s message here resonates because he was inspired by someone from his PLN, Valerie. It just goes to show the power of social media and having a great PLN:
Being a connected educator is not only about using Twitter and participating in twitter chats. It’s also about teachers believing in the power of their own voice. Help another teacher create her blog, contribute to an educational site, write a guest blog post.
And the best part? Share their work with your network!
There are many ways to empower and advocate for teachers. I have made it to be part of my teaching philosophy to do that as it helps teachers in need, it helps students in the classroom and helps me be a better person.
Do you love this topic? Or you are an advocate for teachers? Join us tonight at #profchat 8 PM EST to discuss it and share your thoughts! All are welcome!