I’ve always had the opportunity to work in small schools. I grew up going to a small school as did my wife and my kids currently attend a somewhat small school. In all the states that I’ve taught in (Minnesota, Alaska, Missouri, and Iowa), all have been small school experiences. It’s not that I’ve not applied at larger schools, but I’ve been drawn to these places for a number of reasons, many of which come down to personal relationships.
A recent conversation gave me reason to think more closely about my current situation. The person that I was talking with said that her educational team was a very tight group, but that because they came from several different communities, that the opportunity to socialize outside of work didn’t happen often at all. I never really thought of our group here as that unique, but apparently we are! True, we probably don’t do it enough, but I know if we call for Friday night meeting, that we’ll get teachers who want to have a chance to talk with each other not as teachers, but as friends as well.
As we continue down this road of “reform”, we as teachers have to become more than just “teachers” to each other. The school I’m at right now, I count many of the teachers here as friends. It’s a small community, so we socialize together outside of the school day, whether it be at sporting events, community functions, whatever. I know I’ll run into other educators in many of my travels around the area and that’s ok. It gives us a common ground, a firmer ground, when the going gets tough around here. Do you see yourself in that kind of situation? Do you feel a bond with those you work with on a more personal level? If not, why is that? How can you as an individual change that?
We talk about being connected educators a lot. It’s great to feel that connection to people all over the country and even the world, but if we are truly to be connected, we need to feel that with the teacher down the hallway as well. In the end, it’s those connections, the ones we have every single day when we interact with our co-workers, those will help keep our moral up and help us to continue to strive for what we all want: what’s best for kids.