Teaching and being a school administrator have their ups and downs. In our most recent years, thanks to the pandemic, we have had some wearing moments. Dealing with learning how to be a virtual instructor, addressing the kids in a virtual environment , making sure the kids receive meals, staying connected with the community, addressing the fears and needs of the adults in our systems, trying to figure out what might happen this week or next as well as our own individual concerns have all made school feel overwhelming. The return to the building environment has seen its share of issues as well. Everything from kids needing academic help to reminders of correct behavior in classes, and many staff and community concerns have ramped up the stress levels. The times have been trying on our patience, professional interactions, and our desire to continue to be an educator. Unfortunately, you may have colleagues who have decided that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and have left education to find those other pastures. You may have started questioning why you work in schools and whether you should stay. Ok so now you are saying to yourself yeah, yeah and what else is new. Something that can help with the requirements of the position, the daily routines, addressing family and student needs, dealing with your administrator or supervisor is this…Do You Have a work friendship? No, really. Do you have a friend or friends at work that you like to hang out with, troubleshoot issues, or plan together? Whether it's talking shop or how your favorite team did this weekend, connections like these matter. Here are three ways that friendships make work a better place to be:
- You actually look forward to reconnecting with your friend.
- Your friend helps you problem solve.
- Your friend helps you design lessons, prepare for meetings, and engage with your professional world.
I am normally quiet and reserved. Matter of fact I have colleagues and friends who will say that I am two different people. One of those people is the character that I become to facilitate learners and team members in the pursuit of addressing student and system needs. That character can be boisterous, talkative, and engaged with others. The other personality is pensive, removed from others, and quiet. If I am removed from my work environment then I am not connecting and problems can become overwhelming. My work friends and relationships have always helped with this.
- Reconnecting with Your Friend:
When you have a work friendship you probably have some things in common. Maybe you like the same television shows (or stream the same topics), maybe you root for or against the same teams, and maybe your kids are the same age and you commiserate on some of the same issues. You want to continue the conversation. Maybe you have the same thoughts about how to teach a subject or part of a content area. It could be that you just get along and can talk about anything. There is something that you have in common that makes engaging with one another fun or something to look forward to. As a result you enjoy coming to work.
- Your Friend Helps You Problem Solve:
There is nothing better than having someone who you can trust to help you address a problem. One way that this pays off is the friend listens to you without judgment and gives you support or ideas about how to start dealing with the challenge or issue. Many times as educators we are worried about looking bad in front of colleagues so we don't share. We stew, fret, and remove ourselves from others. We all have heard of the teacher who closes their door or the administrator who disappears into his office. Sometimes you need a friend who will let you vent. Sometimes you need to work with another to help you develop a strategy to deal with the issue. Just having someone to bounce ideas off or to brainstorm can simply fuel your energy or creativeness. On top of this you feel good about your day.
- Your Friend Helps You Design Lessons, Prepare for Meetings, and Engage with Your Professional World:
Working to design lessons, developing plans to introduce a topic for the school to address, creating a plan for having a parent or staff or team meeting, and figuring out what you will say if you decide to speak at a professional conference or networking opportunity are all better when you are working with a friend. The friend provides insight, he shares his thoughts, he lets you know when something doesn't work or make sense, and of course he gives you courage to see something through or to put an idea into action. Ultimately you feel better about the work you do and look forward to being in the building.
Make it possible for friendships to develop. Talk with others. Ask questions. Engage in sharing and make sure that you don't lock yourself away when the people you need are right in the hallway or at the lunch table. Ask for help. Friendships develop through interacting with one another. As a note, there are some employers who frown on work friendships. I would avoid them. I would seek out a place that encourages collegial connections. Looking forward to work makes the distressing times disappear. Feeling overwhelmed? Maybe you need a friend at work.
Don't believe me? Here are some other sources of info: