I didn’t set out to learn from others, after all, as a new teacher, I was pretty sure I knew a lot. In fact, I thought because I was new, I knew more than many who had been out of school for years. I didn’t think I could learn that much from others because my own ideas were so wonderful, so original, so new. And then I learned my very first lesson: how I knew very little. And once I had realized that, I found out that some of my best lessons have come from others.
I learned that being a good listener will make people want to talk to you. While it can be fun to talk about the cool things one gets to do, or the incredible things one has learned, life is not about promoting your own words but instead about listening to others. Teach yourself to be a good listener, eye contact and all, you will reap the rewards in so many ways.
You can be part of the solution or part of the problem. While I sometimes find myself on both sides at the same time, I try to make myself work proactively to solve something. This is a conscious decision, because let’s be honest, it is much easier to gripe about something then it is to think of solutions.
It’s okay to wallow in self-pity, but only for a short time. Thanks to Angela Watson’s incredible book, “Awakened,” I realized that I didn’t give myself a time limit in my self-pitying. So I either was stuck in a rut for whole days or I tried to suppress it, thus never solving the actual problem. Now I embrace when I am down, then I get over it.
If you are in a bad mood, figure out why, and then get over it. I used to let a bad mood permeate everything I touched, rather than think about what key event had led to the bad mood. Now, I stop and recognize what has happened, try to solve it or realize it is what it is, take a deep breath and release it.
If you want a team, be a team player. While it is great to come in with all of your amazing ideas, as well as the notion that what you are doing is the best way to do it, this will not create a team. Learn when to share, learn when to compromise, and learn when to inspire.
This too shall pass. I remember when I had my first negative parent interaction and how it completely destroyed me. I kept thinking this was it, that I had now been deemed a terrible teacher and there was no way out. Then a few days later, I realized that my heart was not as heavy as it used to be, that I had gained a little bounce back in my step. The lesson still hurt, but it had turned from soul crushing to growth promoting. The same applies for when I am soaring high as a teacher, while this may sound pessimistic, I know that something will knock me down a little at some point. I am ok with that, because this is how life is.
Everybody has something to add. And by everybody, I mean everybody. Too often as teachers we only give expert status to those people we like, how about widening our scope and including other people in our building a voice as well. From the custodial staff to the students, they can all add something to the conversation.
If you are feeling insecure, chances are someone else is as well. I thought I was the only extroverted introvert in the world until I found others just like me. If you are not sure how to appraoch someone to start a conversation, they probably don’t know how to approach you either. So take the first initiative, connect with someone new, and invest your time in relationships.
If you want to be liked, be nice. I know this may sound silly, but this has been a big drive for me in everything I do. Smile, listen, give your time when you can, and be a nice human being. I would rather be known as a being nice than being an expert any day.
I am a passionate (female) 7th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now. Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.