Be around the light bringers, the magic makers, the world shifters, the game shakers.
They challenge you, break you open, uplift + expand you.
They don’t let you play small with your life. These heartbeats are your people.
These people are your tribe. ~Danielle Doby
Four walls, six windows, bookcases stacked with stories to explore, 26 metal square desks and the not so lovely end of the day smell of teenagers fill this space; eyes watching, anticipating, and waiting as the clock ticks toward the sound of freedom, the bell to signal the end of the day. Locate the exit, where is the exit? Escape the madness. Find your tribe and tell them about your day.
Some days teaching can be one of the loneliest, isolating and confusing occupations to navigate despite the fact of constantly being surrounded by other humans throughout the day. This space can cause fear, stress and anxiety to linger beneath the surface hidden under smiles and the structure of the school day. It is why I believe many choose to leave the profession.
Often times in schools teachers can feel as though no one wants them to succeed, do well, or cares to listen to all of their problems or concerns. As teachers we teach about accepting others, being kind and good listeners, yet don’t often lead by the best example. A topic many often evade or never discuss is the ever apparent presence of the black hole of awfulness that can take groups of teachers to the dark side and usually can be located in the teacher’s lounge. Although we can see the presence of this black hole merging into existence the creation is ambiguous. Instead of getting sucked in, choose to create a positive pocket of awesomeness, the power is truly in your hands.
When teachers start to create a positive, welcoming, encouraging and collaborative environment, something beautiful happens. They begin to cross paths with other familiar humans; the ones who in a matter of moments became best friends, connections effortless. This group of teachers are often the ones that want to be the best teachers they can be. These teachers will share ideas, aspirations and notions that all students can learn and achieve and reach their highest potential.
My advice: ignore the black holes, the other teachers who only have reserved hellos, and negative things to say about the school and students. Instead practice gratitude and optimism. Reach out to other teachers and make them feel welcomed, spend time building community not only with your students but with other staff too. There is a saying “If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go with others.” If you want to push yourself as a teacher you can’t do it alone. Leave jealousy, busyness, competitiveness at the door and instead share with others, you will see growth in the classroom. Share ideas that are working so more students are impacted, have others come observe your classroom, collaborate, and listen (Vanilla Ice gave great advice, stop, collaborate and listen). Sacrifice the idea or illusion that you need to be the perfect teacher, embrace the whirlwind of missteps and downfalls and your imperfections and mistakes. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, messy and open. It is in these places of uncertainty that you will find trust, courage and hope. Stop what you are doing and make a connection with a fellow teacher. Find someone who challenges and encourages you. You will be amazed at what you learn, how you grow, how happy you will become, and what beautiful and inspiring changes you can make in others, your students, your classroom and your school!
I am lucky enough to have found my school tribe; these lovely beings quiet my fears, sooth my soul, make my cheeks hurt from laughing and fill my heart with happiness. In their space fear, tears, worry and sadness fall to the wayside and are soothed by laughter and words of encouragement. Day we no longer have the strength to get through alone are shared without judgment and embraced with arms to uplift. I found a safe place among others who are unapologetic for who they are. They are inspiring. They are gentle yet strong. They empower me to take on and change the world. I am grateful for them, I am grateful for this bond and I am grateful that humans like this exist in my life. And as for days where I do feel mad, stressed, anxious, happy or sad I know I have them!