Meeting new people is not something that I enjoy. I love having met them, and I love developing relationships with people, but the first few times I am around new people I struggle. It is not something that I am proud of, but it is something that I’m not sure I will ever overcome.
Yesterday, I met with my new teaching partner for the first time. We met briefly during my interview, but I wouldn’t exactly consider that a first meeting. I spent the two days before our meeting completely stressed out. From the interview I could tell that my new teaching partner has her act together. The fact that we share many of the same teaching philosophies put me at ease a bit, but my anxiety was still overwhelming me.
When I got to school yesterday morning the parking lot was full. Crap. Meeting one person seemed stressful enough, but seeing a parking lot full of cars made me consider turning around and heading home. I’m sure that I could have thought up a lame excuse as to why I couldn’t make the meeting. After sitting in my vehicle for a few minutes, I decided that I would “man up” and face my demons.
The reason that the parking lot was so full was because of a fresh food initiative that has a pick up spot. in the parking lot of my new school. in the summer. It was neat to see so many people from the community filling their cars with fresh vegetables. This was the small town scene that I pictured when I decided to take the job.
I figured that many of the workers were probably teachers from my building. I was right. It was one of those moments when I had no idea where I should go. Should I duck past and head straight to my classroom or should I go to the first familiar face I saw and start up an awkward conversation? I went for the ladder. My teaching partner was standing and talking to a lady. I went up to her and said hi. The lady ended up being her mom. Come to find out her mom goes to the same church as I go to. Small world. I had a very nice conversation with the mom as we watched people pick up their food. It was fun seeing my old third grade science teacher take home a carton of yogurt.
After a little bit of small talk, I ducked away inside the building, and down the hall to my classroom. A few minutes later my teaching partner showed up with a couple of other teachers. For some reason meeting people in my classroom was much less intimidating, and after a little more small talk we got to work. I worked with a few teachers to move a whole bunch of stuff out of my classroom and into another classroom.
The moving of all this “stuff” was actually sort of fun. It allowed me to get to know a few teachers without talking with them. I could watch how they packed materials and how they organized them on a cart. It felt a little bit like getting to know my students by watching them from a far.
After moving the mountain of materials out of my room,
my teaching partner and I got to spend some time chatting. It was wonderful. She did a great job of putting me at ease, and answering ALL of my questions. When I left a half hour later, I was feeling pretty good. I’ve now met about a third of the teachers in my building, and it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be (it never is).
I think that the most important relationship that a teacher has in their building is the relationship(s) that they have with their teaching partners. I have found that the years that I am hitting on all cylinders with my teaching partner, are the years where I have grown the most as a teacher. My new teaching partner has me extremely excited about he upcoming school year. I look forward to all of the learning that we are going to do together.