Reflection #2: On Relationships

As part of my requirements as a first-year teacher, I have to fill out these forms that are a total joke. There is about a half a page to write about what I have accomplished this year as a teacher. They want me to reflect on my year, but only give me limited space to write it down. I have issues with forced reflection: I hate it. I see the immense value in reflection and goal setting, but struggle when it is forced upon me. I hope that in the next week, I can finish all the reflections I have on my mind, but I will just take it one day at a time. I have really learned a lot in my first year of teaching, and hope that I can take those lessons with me next year to my new school.

The ninth graders went to Lagoon today. I went with them since I have mostly ninth graders. It was a pretty fun day, and the new ride there, Wicked is just that, wicked. Not the best roller coaster I have been on, but it is pretty cool. While at Lagoon I didn't do much supervising of the kids (since that would be impossible). I just hung out with 7 other teachers who went also. A couple days ago I thought that maybe I would rather not go, and just stay at school for the day with no students. I would be able to get a lot done. I was entertaining that thought because I don't really have a very good relationship with most of the teachers at my school. There are a few that I do feel some rapport with, but not that many. I have thought a lot about why this is so.

First, I spent most lunches in my room. At the beginning of the year, it was because I had so much to do, and I never felt like I had enough time to prepare for everything. Once I got things under control better, I stayed in my room for lunch just for some peace and quiet. It was nice to be able to read the news and each lunch without the noise of my students. Not that I don't like the teachers I work with, but the faculty room was sometimes not that quiet either. Towards the end of the year, I stayed in my room still because I had not been in the lunch room all year, and the other teachers had established cliques, and the couple times I was in there, I felt left out. That is certainly not their fault, but rather mine. In addition, one excuse I made for why I didn't eat lunch with others was that the few times I was it seemed like there was a lot of complaining about students, administration, our jobs overall, etc. going on. I used that as an excuse to keep me away. Even though I love teaching more than anything else I have ever done, I still complain. I guess that is just part of the dark side that is always creeping to the surface for me.

The second reason that I didn't establish many relationships with teachers is because I was too shy to go out of my way to make more friends. This is not in my character at all. Since I got married, my wife has become my best friend and the one that I turn to for everything. She is wonderful, and is probably the greatest person ever invented, but thinking that she was the only person I needed as a friend was an incorrect assumption on my part. I have learned some amazing things from those teachers I have built a relationship with (teaching techniques, curriculum suggestions, project ideas, classroom management hints, and much more). I need friends at work, people that can help me and that I can help when needed. An excellent example of this is that there have been two field trips in the last couple weeks where I and other teachers needed someone to take the students that would not be able to go. When teachers emailed asking for help, I was reluctant to volunteer to help someone that I had not built a relationship with already. When I needed help, the only ones who volunteered were teachers that I had built a relationship with. If I had done better earlier, I would have been more willing to help others, and I think they would have been more willing to help me.

The third reason is that I haven't really felt like part of the faculty. I know that part of it is because I am new, and part of it is my own insecurities. I always feel like I have to be the center of attention or else people don't like me much. That is silly. It has taken me a long time to realize this, but there is nothing wrong with being in the background for a while. I don't have to be the most important one in a group to still be important to that group. And why do I even need to be important? I can just be there!

Changes to make regarding relationships:
  • Each lunch with the other faculty members. I need some time with grownups. (And sometimes, it is okay to vent!)
  • Go out of my way to make sure other teachers feel that I appreciate them and notice the good things they do
  • Make sure that I volunteer to help others when they need it (within reason, without overextending myself) so that I have a way to build a better relationship with them
If I can build better relationships with faculty next year, I think that I will see some great changes in my own teaching ability, my happiness at the school, and networking for the future. Making friends is always a good idea. Making friends with teachers who care about what they are doing is even better. I am a social person. Sitting in my room during lunch when I knew I could be out making friends was totally foreign to me. I still don't completely understand WHY I chose to be lonely.


    I have so many things to say; I don’t know where to start. First of all, it’s very tempting to stay in your classroom, but you need to spend time away from it. I know this is true when I start calling my classroom, my house. “It’s in my house;” “Come back to my house with me;” etc. You may laugh, but it’s a common slip of the tongue for me. Second, I feel bad you felt left out. Although, I never thought our school had cliques, the more I think of it, it does. That’s something for me to work on next year – being more inclusive. As for talking about students, that’s the nature of faculty rooms. Complaining goes on, but teachers also praise them and discuss exciting things that are going on in their classrooms. I wish you could have seen more of this. Finally, although you didn’t feel part of the faculty, you were. Not only do teachers discuss students, but we also discuss other teachers. We had heard positive things about you and your classroom and we were sad to hear you were leaving. In fact, we spent an entire lunch contemplating why Brenda was offered James’s position and you weren’t. I bet you had no idea we talked about you so much – I hope that doesn’t reinforce any negative thoughts about faculty rooms. Anyways, I appreciated all the great ideas you gave me and look forward to reading about all the great things you'll do at Fort Herriman.


    Thanks for your input. As I stated above, feeling left out was more my problem than others. Once I started talking to you, and others, I realized that you were all very friendly. I think it was my own insecurities more than the rudeness of others. Thanks for your support.