Involvement with fellow staff

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by FilloryandFurther, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. FilloryandFurther

    FilloryandFurther New Member

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    Mar 10, 2017

    Hello!

    I just have some concerns I would like to get off of my chest, and I'm also looking for advice. This is my third year teaching and my second in the same building. I'm becoming concerned that I should be more involved with fellow teachers and staff or that my coworkers might wonder why I'm not incredibly involved in celebrations and other events exclusive to teachers and administration (we frequently have potlucks and staff parties, but I don't usually attend. The one time I did, nobody spoke to me, and my attempts to chime in went unnoticed.

    I am the youngest teacher in the building by many years. Among other adults, particularly my elders, I tend to be incredibly anxious and socially awkward, which makes me want to sit out. This is not to say I don't get along with my fellow teachers, because I do, but outside of work or in a group with them, I flounder.

    I teach in a very small town where everyone knows each other, but I live in the city about 40 minutes away. I just feel pressured to do more and I worry that my shyness and lack of participation in certain events will be frowned upon. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated!
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Mar 10, 2017

    That's a tough situation. Potlucks should be okay to handle if they're in the breakroom. If you're uncomfortable doing happy hour or things like that after work, simply say, "I have a long drive ahead of me and should probably try to miss rush hour."
     
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  4. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Mar 10, 2017

    I am also someone who is slow to make small talk and to open up to new people. I think a lot of us teachers actually are introverts -- we can be outgoing with kids, but withdraw with other adults. I do think we still need to make an effort at times, to show that we are invested and care about our colleagues and community. I would start off by going to one or two events and just staying a little while. Just smile and say hello, or ask how someone's day is going. Or ask how their students are -- all teachers love to tell "stories from the front lines"! It will get easier with time. Sad to say, but some veterans have admitted that they don't even bother getting to know new teachers until they pass the three-year mark, since there is so much turnover. (ETA: it's still worth trying to get to know them even if they don't seem to know you exist yet!).
     
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  5. aburke9

    aburke9 Rookie

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    Mar 10, 2017

    So true... I'm definitely an introvert but can be around kids all day. I'd rather be alone with my thoughts than with my peers though, but I'm perfectly happy that way! I don't eat in the teacher's lounge, usually just take my tray or my lunch back to my classroom. I know other teachers who are introverts too and actually sit with their students to eat lunch. Still, sometimes there are times we just have to suck it up and be social. It's good for the students to see too I think.
     
  6. vickilyn

    vickilyn Guru

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    Mar 10, 2017

    I have had to force myself to be outgoing with fellow employees, but feel it is beneficial to invest the effort. You will quickly find that there are others like yourself, and gravitate towards them. I consider the efforts to be socially valuable in the long run. You can make a lot of excuses, but others may read them as aloof or snobbish. Bite the bullet, assume that they are trying to offer an olive branch, which is a good thing. If you can fake it with students, you can at least do the same with co-workers. Face it, making contacts and forging friendships is better than ending up on the outside looking in..
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
  7. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Mar 10, 2017

    I'm outgoing with my team and the other new teachers in my building, but there are people in my school I see every day but never interact with. If social events with coworkers aren't your thing, I wouldn't stress too much about it. I've gone out for drinks or dinner with coworkers only a couple times this year, and both times were only because one of my team coworkers was there.
    HOWEVER. I agree with vickilyn that it's better to make contacts and forge friendships - there should be at least a few peers for you to talk to because otherwise teaching gets incredibly lonely. There are weeks where I just NEED to have interactions with adults, because spending this much time with kids is draining and not exactly intellectually stimulating most days (I teach 2nd, so... mostly I repeat myself a thousand times a day.)
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Mar 11, 2017

    I'm the same way as you, OP. I moved across the country for my first teaching job without knowing anyone. It was a very small town and there wasn't really a way to meet people/make friends except for work, so all of my friends were coworkers. I didn't like that because we'd go out and just talk about or complain about work the entire time, and sometimes "friend drama" seemed to seep into the workplace. I moved to a bigger city and made it my mission to make friends outside of work. By the time I started working at my current school, I'd been in my current city for a year and had built up a large social circle outside of work. The great majority of my friends aren't teachers and those that are work in different districts. I love being able to go out with my friends and truly have it be a "break." Anyway, my point is that when I started working at this school I didn't really see a need to make "work friends." I completely relate to feeling anxious/socially awkward. In my current school, I'm also the only unmarried teacher and one of the very few (I think there are 3 of us out of 40 teachers) who doesn't have children. People are always talking about their family lives and I just don't have much to add to that conversation!

    I'm on my 4th year at this school and up until this year I've been fine with my current setup. I get along well with my own team, but I never go to work social events, I eat lunch in my room, and other than exchanging pleasantries I don't really socially interact with other teachers in the building. I am a SPED teacher and the district is making major changes to what my job looks like. I've been running a pull-out/resource program and the district wants to "move towards" co-planning/co-teaching instead. I'm still doing pull-out this year, but I'm expected to "collaborate" a lot more and I'm finding the gen ed teachers just won't work with me. I'm sure it would have been much easier had I formed some better relationships first and tried to make more "work friends." I'm making more of an effort now, but it's hard when I've already been at this school for a few years. Of course hindsight is 20/20...I now understand the importance of social relationships at work. If I moved schools I would definitely change my approach!
     
  9. sjanew15

    sjanew15 Rookie

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    Mar 12, 2017

    I am the same way. I'm incredibly shy in new situations but once I get comfortable I can go for hours. I used to be afraid to go to potlucks because the change of moving halfway across the state, adjusting to my first year of teaching and renting my first place were too much. I made friends with a teacher who shares similar interests and we try to attend all these potlucks together. It makes me feel supported to have a face I know even when I am not talking with my friend. I've also found that the more I put myself in new situations, the more willing and able I am to talk to new people. I've started becoming more social over the years and I just have to remind myself to not fall into a routine. Maybe just try picking one thing to do on the weekend for yourself that is new. Try it with a friend at first and then branch out to doing things with new crowds in a safe manner.
     
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  10. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Mar 13, 2017

    I used to work at a very small school with a strong teachers' lounge culture, and I would go when possible to be part of things, even though I found it exhausting at times. The camaraderie and support I eventually found there ended up being what sustained me through that very challenging position.

    My current school doesn't have a lunch room culture, and at first I found it a bit lonely, but now I maximize my time by working through lunch, or just having a few rare minutes alone to recharge my batteries. Some people really don't like this lack of connection, though. I am lucky to have found a culture that suits me!
     
  11. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    Mar 17, 2017

    If I were you, I would try to make an appearance at these events and stay for at least 15-20 minutes when you can do so. This is part of "collegiality" which can be amorphous, but can be used in tenure and employment decisions. You want to communicate that you are a team player and you are willing to put in the extra work to get to know and work with your co-workers. When you do attend these functions, just ask your co-workers questions and listen closely to their answers. Get to know what they are doing in their classrooms, how they can help you, and how you can help them. Remember what they say to you, and keep talking about those same things the next times you see the same people. They will see (1) you are curious (2) you listen well (3) you care enough to remember what others are doing. You don't have to be the life of the party in order to have meaningful conversations with co-workers.
     
  12. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Mar 18, 2017

    I'm an introvert, and I hate socializing with work people. I've become friendly with my immediate team of teachers, though, and I sit with them at lunch. I don't usually do much of the talking, and I don't open up about my personal life very much, but I'm there. They see my face, and I talk to them when I have something to contribute. I don't go to every social event outside of school, but I stop by a few. I have a drink or two, let my face be seen, and then I leave. I think it's about finding balance. If there is even one colleague that you feel closer to (because you work together closely or something), try attending social events with that person. Or find someone to sit with at staff meetings and strike up a conversation. It doesn't have to be long. Just enough to look interested and friendly.
     
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  13. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Mar 18, 2017

    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019

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