In the world of education, could it be possible to be in a classroom filled with 22 students and still feel alone?
Often, teachers feel isolated and removed from their peers when they are confined to their classroom for the majority of their day with little adult interaction. Consequently, a result of this isolation can involve burnout, apathy, and even depression. It is the administrator's task on campus to help avoid this, but teachers can be proactive to avoid feeling isolated on their own. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Collaborate. Rubbing shoulders with your peers is the best way to prevent isolation. Teachers should feel free to utilize break time and common planning periods to seek advice, share ideas, and vent. For some teachers, a pre-determined curriculum can dampen the drive to collaborate. "Canned curriculum” ruined a good teacher, my sister who teaches 5th grade. She used to be the most dedicated and creative teacher in the world! There's no planning involved anymore. It's all done for her! No matter what your circumstances on campus, there is always room for creativity and flair, especially when you collaborate with your colleagues. Therefore, hanging out in the teacher’s lounge can indeed prove to be beneficial.
2. Try to Be Scholarly. Reading journals and books about education can be both stimulating and inspiring. Learn what other educators are doing in the field and what research is emerging that will impact public education. Share your favorite articles with your peers on campus and dialogue about them during your break times. Or take a class. With the current rate of technological advancement, online courses are a no-brainer! Think about it!
3. Stay Positive. No one wants to feel like a castaway on a deserted island. It's not just about being connected but about “feeling” connected. Your reputation is not what you think about yourself but more of what others think of you. View your department and your campus as a team and yourself as a valuable member. Identify your contribution to the team and brainstorm ways to be a valuable team player.
Teaching is an extremely difficult and ever changing profession. It takes a positive attitude to overcome some of its obstacles. Remember that fellow educators are facing the same challenges on a daily basis. Don't isolate yourself but instead be an active team player. With the right outlook, you will not only avoid feeling isolated, but you will be an encouragement to others as well.
Brian Kasperitis began working as a professional musician at an early age. By the age of 18, he was on tour with personalities like Chubby Checker. Brian’s formal education includes an AA degree as an instrumentalist, BS in Music Education, BS in Elementary Education and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership. Today, Brian is a part-time college professor & workshop presenter. His fifteen years of experience in the classroom and as a band teacher also includes teaching online courses for the University of Phoenix Graduate School of Education. After being voted “Outstanding Young Man in America,” for two consecutive years, Brian was appointed “Artist in Residency” to the Texas Commission on the Arts by George W. Bush.
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