Whether you’re a brand new teacher or a veteran teacher changing schools, there are certain people in your school that you need to befriend as soon as possible.
Yes, they do run the school. They are the keepers of the keys, the supplies, and the holders and masters of every piece of paperwork you’ll ever need. Make every secretary your friend. Thank them. And, most importantly, respect their time every day, but especially on teacher workdays, which is when they get disturbed by lots of teachers. Be different by asking them for help before or after a teacher workday.
- Department Chair / Team Leader
An excellent resource to help find the necessary materials to organize your new classroom.
- Custodial Crew
Custodians take care of your classroom every day, so stay late and say thank you once in a while. Just talk to them for a few minutes. and learn their names, at least those who clean your hall or your room. It’s important that you respect everyone involved in teaching your students, if you are to teach respect to your students.
- Collaboration Colleagues (or Collaborators)
Teaching is often an isolated activity; however, planning with others is much more fun and more productive. Take advantage of the knowledge of veterans and the enthusiasm of new teachers. We all have something to share. We can all learn from one another. So, collaborate. It does your stress level good.
- Guidance Counselors
Guidance counselors are in the schools to help students. They often know information about your students that you don’t know, and they sometimes have easier access to parents or guardians than the classroom teacher. Take advantage of their unique position and access to students and guardians. They may help you understand some troubled students, which may help you help your students much, much more.
- Media Specialists
Media Specialists love to teach and share their libraries. Give them that opportunity. They know which books interest students, they know helpful websites, and they know about computer programs for interesting student presentations. They love to have whole classes visit the library for instruction and research; however, you are still the teacher and need to control your classes. Remember, taking your class to the library is a privilege; stay with your class and maintain discipline.
- Network Managers
With all the technology in schools today, the Network Manager must be on your list of friends. There are so many reasons to know your Network Manager – teacher computers, student computers, DVD systems, student response systems, projectors, document cameras, internet connections, upgrades, and the list goes on. Of course, the Network Manager is often running from room to room dealing with a thousand issues a day, so be patient.
Okay, so you met the administrators when you interviewed and at the first faculty meeting. That’s not enough. Drop by their offices once in a while, just to say hello, if necessary. Let them know about your classes — behavior as well as instruction. Whenever you think of a question, write it down, then drop by for a visit and to get some answers. Administrators want to know how you’re enjoying the school, but they often don’t have the time to just drop by your room on your planning period. It’s up to the teacher to start those “drop-by” conversations. Yes, they are busy, but they will take the time for any teacher. Don’t be afraid to interrupt them.
- Upbeat Veteran Teachers
It is very easy to fall into the trap of complaining, so avoid the negativity of disgruntled staff members; instead, seek out upbeat and positive teachers. This probably means avoiding the teachers’ lounge, which is often where the negative teachers congregate.
- Cafeteria Workers
If you eat lunch in the cafeteria, or plan to, then become familiar with the cafeteria workers. Be sure to show them respect, so your students learn to respect them also. Students often feel like cafeteria workers and custodians are supposed to clean up after them. Trust me, they have enough work to do without cleaning up after messy students or teachers.
Please understand that I do not think you should befriend anyone simply because they can help you, but these are definitely people you need to know. And, of course, everything goes smoother if you are on good terms with people.
Feel free to add to the list or comment on who you think teachers should get to know at the school.