Networking To Save Your (Teaching) Life

1082506_heart_networkingEverybody makes mistakes
Everybody has those days
Everybody knows what what I’m talkin’ ’bout
Everybody gets that way

Nobody’s Perfect!
I gotta work it!
Again and again ’til I get it right
Nobody’s Perfect!
You live and you learn it!
And if I mess it up sometimes,
Nobody’s perfect!

Oops. I got a little carried away there in my Hannah Montana glam rock! Sorry about that.

But it’s true, everyone messes up. Our students do, and so do we! I found that having a small group of teachers nearby really helped me out in the early years. I would go to dinner with some, I would call some up, I would visit some after class. However we stayed in contact, I definitely looked forward to our conversations.

Mix and match
I like to have teacher†friends from all walks of the career path. From new teachers to people who have been teaching a few years, to people who have taught for a few decades, to life-long retired teachers.

What do we talk about?
I found that even as a second or third year teacher, I could offer suggestions to some of my other friends who were struggling. If nothing else, I could offer a suggestion, meet up a week later, and we could discuss the results in their classroom. Earlier in my career, I would find myself asking a great deal of questions. I still ask questions, but I tend to offer advice more now too.

Not all advice is accepted
When gathering this circle, we have to remember that there are some people out there who are unwilling to listen, no matter how great the advice is. For this reason, we need to be selective about the people we hang with.

Not all advice is useful
On the other end of the spectrum, there are certain teachers I wouldn’t dream about asking for advice on anything in my classroom. Those are the same teachers you need to avoid in a networking capacity.

Are there some bad teachers who make great friends? Absolutely! We just have to be careful in distinuishing between the two…

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

4 Comments on Networking To Save Your (Teaching) Life

  1. You are so right! We sometimes get to “into” our own little world! We forget that there are other people out there doing the same things as we are! I find that if I am having issues with certain students that most times the choir teacher and I will be having the same issues. Or the computer teacher and I will! We talk and figure it out. Of course reading these blogs open the doors up even to outside our own schools!

  2. And the best thing about having a variety of friends and having a network is that you can ask for an opinion and that gives you plenty of options to choose from. Sometimes someone comes out with something that you never thought of and it is the perfect solution. Sometimes you need the comfort and caring and certain friends fill that need. Great post!

  3. As a music educator working outside of academia in the private sector I know the importance of networking first hand. I have accepted invitations to address all kinds of groups (including mothers of twins!) and have attended local book signings, marketing discussions and even chamber of commerce meetings. Music educators (in or out of academia) can learn a lot by applying business practices to their profession. At the very least, the contacts one makes during these encounters can lead to seats n your auditorium! In my case, I have garnered steady media attention for our school and our MusickEd.com products. Great post!

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