Teaching Profession Opinion

Gratitude for Colleagues Who Made the New Girl Feel At Home

By Starr Sackstein — November 20, 2016 3 min read
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“Boy, am I glad I came to school before the first day!” This was the prevailing thought on my first day of school this year. I was fortunate enough to meet a person who would help me acclimate to school. I didn’t realize then that she was one of those “right” people to know.

The beginning of September came and I arrived at school. Many new faces and all I wanted to do was blend. I had no one to give hugs to or excited ask about the summer. I felt alone. Anonymous, even.

Awkward. Shy. Tentative. Nervous. Excited?

Perhaps not words that support the gregarious person my online persona may lead readers to believe I am. The simple truth is that writing is easier for me because I’m an introvert when I don’t know anyone and painfully shy.

Walking into my new building was intimidating. Aside from the sheer size of the space itself, there are almost triple the number of employees at my new school as there were at my last.

Joining a new school is not easy, regardless of whether you’ve been teaching a day or a decade or more. Large schools or small schools, being an outsider can make teaching even more alienating than it sometimes is.

That’s why in this season of thankfulness, I’m tremendously grateful for the few people at my new school home who took the time to get to know me right away.

To Maria, for whom I have the utmost respect. Her professionalism and pedagogical talent, as well as generosity helps to make our school what it is. Maria is never too busy to help anyone and always follows up to make sure people are okay. Fortunately, Maria lives next door to me in the building, so I get to see her every day; she’s a welcomed smile in the each morning. Her friendship has become a North Star of sorts that has eased me into the routine.

To Leo, the most amazing co-teacher I have ever been blessed to work with. There have been many talented teachers over the years, but Leo is the first whom I feel really gets me. Everything we plan is together without complaint. Each of us shares ideas and we work off of what the other suggests; it’s a true partnership. In class, we seamlessly share the space with the students, tag-teaming whatever task needs to be accomplished at any given time. I respect her so much and have learned so much from her. It doesn’t hurt that she too is a morning person and literally walks into class each morning humming a tune.

To Vronsky, who always tells it like it is. His smile and willingness to accommodate my needs are greatly appreciative. He’s a great superviser to have because he truly cares about what I need and think. Although I need a lo-jack to find him sometimes, when we finally do catch up, I know he’ll be able to offer me advice that will help me move ahead successfully.

To Wilfred, who is always there to listen and provide me with great feedback. I’m eager to hear what he thinks about topics and to hear about his stories. Because we share some fundamental life experiences, we connect on many levels and I respect what he does for the school community and for his daughters.

To Tom, who always has my back; he is a great union rep and has lived many lives that are exciting to hear about. It’s hard to imagine how we all find each other, but it seems that the universe puts people in our paths for reason.

My kindred spirits of the teachers center, room 401. Since I’ve arrived at my new job, everyone who calls this space home has embraced my presence in the space, warmly receiving my ideas and help. I have come to enjoy the lunch time conversations, the excited debate, the cat banter and how we can share our successes and challenges; learning with everyone is a real honor.

The more comfortable I get in my new school, the luckier I feel to have such amazingly intelligent and caring people around me. Which colleagues are you most grateful for in your school building? Too often we spend more time communicating with our virtual PLNs, that we don’t nurture our in person relationships enough. We need to build capacity at home first.

Share your gratitude. :)

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.