Being a new teacher, (even in the best of times) can sometimes be a lonely experience. You may feel that everyone else knows what they are doing, already have friends and colleagues to go to for support, and just move through the day at a much faster pace than you are able to. Now, add in the fact that many new teachers are teaching partially or fully remotely and even when they are on campus, there may be limitations to getting together with others. So many new teachers report that new teacher isolation is their number one struggle their first years — but it doesn’t have to be!
Check out six EASY and EFFECTIVE ways to build community for yourself during those challenging first years:
Idea #1- Don’t overthink it
Sometimes when we are in a new setting, we tend to overthink things which leads to less social interaction. As a new teacher, overthinking things can be just part of the process but when it comes to reaching out with other teachers, finding ways to ask for help or just eating lunch, teachers can get wrapped up in overthinking and end up missing out on opportunities to really connect.
Idea #2- Reach out regularly
Oftentimes new teachers feel like they are inconveniencing other busy teachers/administrators by asking for help. Every single person in your school was new once as well and most are happy to help.
A tip for reaching out – be clear on what you are asking for and make it simple and concrete. Instead of saying “can you help me get organized?” try, “could you help me set up files to keep track of work samples?”
Idea #3- Offer to help
Even though you may be new to the profession or the school, there are many ways that you can offer to help! Think about what areas you feel more confident in and offer up the help.It can be as simple as offering to watch another class so the teacher can take a 5-minute break. It doesn’t have to be complicated, teachers appreciate all the help they can get!
Idea #4- Make connecting with others a priority
There are SO many things that you need to be focusing on during your first years teaching that it can be hard to prioritize connecting with others. So many times we are just trying to stay above water that we put social connecting at the bottom of a very long list. It may take a little extra time at the beginning, but it will pay off in the long term. Connecting with others is so important in preventing burn out and making it through the toughest days.
Idea #5- When all else fails, bring food
This may sound a little silly, but sometimes just doing something nice for others can go a long way. (and food is always a crowd pleaser!)
Idea #6- If you are virtual, join everything that is offered!
With so many people spending so much time in front of their computers it can be even harder than ever to connect. As time goes on, and people become wearier with the ongoing situation, we can find it hard to be motivated to participate in virtual social events. Even though it may not be ideal, even a “virtual” connection can help you feel not so alone and make those connections that will continue once you are back in person!
New teacher isolation is real so make connecting a priority and I promise you you’ll be glad you did!!
Challenging behaviors can make you feel so much more isolated.