If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that no matter who you are or what you do, we all need human connection.
As a Grade 4 math and science teacher who spends most of my days with 9- and 10-year-olds, I don’t interact with my colleagues as much as I’d like. That’s why I try to connect with them as often as possible to strengthen my relationships and build new ones.
Tap into Your School’s Social Group
One way to make connections with coworkers is to tap into your school’s social group. Many schools have some sort of social committee (or “Spirit team”) to bring teachers together throughout the school year, but the summer is one of the best times for connection because we have some free time.
For example, last August, prior to the start of the 2022–2023 school year, a group of teachers at my school hosted a “Back-to-School Bash” at one of our local beaches. This allowed us time to relax and reconnect with one another before the school year began. This summer, a group of us will be getting together to see the Bored Teachers comedy show. We’ve also hosted book clubs at each other’s homes and met at local restaurants to decompress.
Besides the positive social aspect of getting together, connecting with colleagues has other benefits:
Build Relationships to Build School Morale
When teachers know who’s in the classroom next door or down the hall, we can lean on each other when we need support. So often, I feel like I’m in a bubble, but making connections with other teachers at my school helps me feel less isolated. If every teacher feels a bond with at least one other teacher, it creates a sense of belonging and reduces that feeling of isolation, which could then help boost school morale. Having strong connections with one another also makes it more fun to go to work.
Form Bonds to Become a More Effective Teacher
Building those strong relationships also helps when I find myself needing advice about something I’m struggling with or have a particular student concern. Other educators’ strategies and valuable guidance have helped me in different ways—from finding ways to motivate my students to write their math down, to creating a more effective routine for small group transitions, to many other things. It’s also nice to know that I’m not alone in the challenges I face. Other teachers have such a wealth of knowledge and experience that can help me grow into a more effective teacher.
Be Open to Parent Invitations to Stay Connected with Students
One of the hardest things about being a teacher is that I spend an entire school year with my 46 students, and then after they move on, I may hardly see them. They’re not on social media, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to connect with them even if they were. So, unless I run into them on the ramps at school or at our local grocery store, I may not see them again. However, if their parents invite me to connect on social media after their child has left my classroom or invites me to their child’s birthday party via email, I accept those in a heartbeat! I love staying connected with my students and watching them grow up, and connecting with their parents is one way to do that.
With more free time in the summer than teachers ever have, it’s so important to maintain those connections with your colleagues and build new ones. Making memories together can help you through those tough days. This summer, be sure to reach out and make some plans with your colleagues!
For more about building student relationships, listen to this Extraordinary Educators™ Podcast.