Finding Teacher Support When You Feel Alone
Although people talk about school communities, teaching can be a lonely and isolating job. Teachers spend the majority of their day in their classrooms with little interaction with other adults.
Planning periods are often used for meetings, and teachers are scheduled for duty during some of their other “planning” time. In that small amount of planning time, teachers need to plan, prepare, contact parents, grade, and complete any number of other teaching-related tasks.
It is impossible to get everything done with excellence within that time, let alone have time to meet and collaborate with colleagues.
According to the American Psychological Association, up to 30% of teachers leave the profession within the first three years, and half of them quit by the end of the fifth year (APA, 2012).
New teachers often lack the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to be successful in managing students and teaching content.
Psychologist Isaac Prilleltensky believes teachers should be supported with a residency, similar to what doctors have (APA, 2012). Instead, well-meaning districts often pile even more tasks on overwhelmed new teachers in teacher induction programs.
The Economic Policy Institute found that nearly 80% of new teachers have a mentor, and about 73% participate in a teacher induction program (EPI, 2019).
However, more than one-third of novice teachers believed the mentorship was of little help.
Teachers, in general, do not think they receive the support they need, as less than one-third of all teachers believe their professional development experiences were very useful.
How Can Teachers Find Support?
Teachers need to get the support and camaraderie they need to increase their chances of staying in the profession.
A large percentage of teachers who remain in the profession report having a mentor, find their professional development very useful or work in a highly cooperative school (EPI, 2019).
Having support can mean the difference between making teaching their career or burning out and leaving the profession.
Unfortunately, this support is not always available in a school.
As much as teachers want to have a teacher bestie, teammates do not always get along – they may have personality conflicts or different teaching styles.
Sometimes teachers are on a team of one and don’t have a teammate with whom they can collaborate – and commiserate.
If teachers cannot find support in their school, it may be possible to find support within their district.
Teachers can ask to attend district in-service opportunities or get involved with their union (ours has free classes where teachers can meet).
Today, teachers can also find support groups online – great for teachers who feel isolated in their current teaching assignment.
Teachers can find Twitter chats on education topics, Instagram accounts that discuss anything and everything in education, and even Facebook groups where they can collaborate.
If you are looking to ask questions, get advice, and provide help to other teachers, I have found Facebook groups to be an excellent source of collaboration.
There are many teacher-focused Facebook groups. Some groups focus on a specific grade or topic, while others may be broader in scope.
Search for a group using keywords, like middle school social studies, APUSH, or 5th grade.
The Upper Elementary Teachers’ Lounge
If you teach upper elementary, I’d like to invite you to join the Upper Elementary Teachers’ Lounge, a Facebook Group I created for teachers to collaborate and provide support to each other.
The group is free to join – and I’ll even give you these differentiated writing rubrics for grades 3 – 5 as a gift for joining. I hope to see you there!
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