At the start of the school year, we had a number of teachers quit in quick succession. I marveled at it. I could not wrap my head around the lack of professionalism that would motivate an adult to leave a classroom of children without warning.
I knew they were tired, and overwhelmed. I knew they were angry or depressed. I knew that they felt incompetent, and incompetence is a hard feeling to live with.
What really struck me about these teachers that left is that nobody seemed to know them. They weren’t in the teachers’ lounge at lunch. They didn’t meet us after school for a drink. They were not often seen conversing with fellow teachers before school.
The teachers that quit most quickly were isolated.
I am not saying that one has to be an extrovert to be a reliable teacher. I am noting that in moments of stress people need people, and those that are on their own feel the most alone.
Having teacher friends to commiserate with on tough days and to offer encouragement on even harder ones has been critical to my survival as a first year teacher. Knowing that I am not unique in my struggles has been a tremendous source of support, and hearing from others how they have managed their classroom difficulties has helped me to keep perspective on mine.
My advice to new teachers? Don’t isolate yourself. Look for connection, and be open to forming friendships with your colleagues. We need to support one another if we are to support the children.