Do you have your teaching buddy?Posted: January 12, 2012
How are you developing and maintaining your learning and teaching support network? Do you have one, formally or informally? Thinking about it right now, can you name at least one person you can turn to, to bounce ideas off, to proof-read things, to discuss research with?
If not, then you need one! With a support network of even one person you’ve got someone else to talk to, to sanity check you, to help you laugh when things aren’t funny and to balance you if you’re going off-kilter.
It doesn’t need to be someone in your own discipline, although that can help, but it does need to be someone who understands what it is like to be an educator. There’s a lot of gallows humour, of joking about the things that are making us despair, and sometimes other people, especially partners, don’t get how we can complain about something so much and still love it so much. That’s where your teaching buddy comes in. With any luck you have more than one, you have a network of these people. These are not just the people whose blogs you read or whose books you have, these are people you can message or mail to ask a question or grab a coffee with or just sit down and have a long “GRAAAAA” chat with – without losing your job.
Sometimes teaching feels like an us-and-them kind of job. Us is always us, but them can be our students, or our administrators, or our bosses. You don’t want to gang up on any of these people but, at the same time, you don’t want to find yourself crawling the walls. Apart from anything else, working on cool projects is always more fun with a friend to help out, to throw ideas around with and to just sit down and talk to.
Do you have a network? Do you know someone who doesn’t? Can you reach out to try and help?
Are you working alone? Is there someone you could ask, anywhere? Have a look around, there are lots of professional networks – conferences and workshops are a great place to meet like-minded people. It’s ok, we’re not talking about marrying these people, you can even, if you’re so inclined, look at it as a very casual speed-dating set-up if you’re nervous. But you’ll be amazed how many people out there are ready to talk, want to talk and, working together, we can probably all achieve that little bit more.