Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. Carl Sandburg
The response to help a colleague may very well be connected to time: There’s barely enough time for the things I have to do—there’s just no time to be collegial. The scarcity of time is often a systemic problem, however, some teachers seem to find that time because they know that the return is energizing. Ben Johnson’s fourth step in avoiding teacher burnout in his article, 10 Ways to Avoid Teacher Burnout, is to help another teacher. He shares some excellent ways to do just that by responding to a blog or starting your own blog; mentoring another teacher; or taking an active role in your professional organization. Here’s 7 more ways to help a colleague:
- Share a lesson, unit, or resources for a topic with teachers who teach the same grade level or content area.
- Organize a grade level meeting or content area meeting to plan an end of the semester/year activity and ask everyone to bring an activity or resource to the meeting to share.
- Share a journal article with a summary of the article and some practical applications attached to the article.
- Designate a bulletin board or bookshelf in the teachers’ lounge for teachers to share resources, activities, books, lessons, etc.
- Follow a blog (see suggestions under Resources).
- Join your professional organization and share the resources from your membership.
- Check in with a first-year teacher in your building. The conversation will benefit both of you.
While demands on time don’t always allow for teachers to collaborate with colleagues, when you do collaborate, the effort and end result is always worth it. My partners in Surviving to Thriving LjL have collaborated together on many projects—books, curricular materials, presentations, and workshops. For example, we are currently working on a unit and discussion/activity guide for Animal Farm. Jennifer just finished the unit. Next, I go through the unit, editing, deleting, adding, and then sending it back to Jennifer. She makes her adjustments, then it goes to Linda, who formats it expertly and uploads it to Teachers Pay Teachers. When we wrote two books on classroom management (Thriving in the High School Classroom and From Surviving to Thriving: Mastering the Art of the Elementary Classroom), we sat at Linda’s dining room table and wrote as a team—that was an amazing process. Collaboration benefits all those involved in the collaboration process and often benefits students the most.
Johnson, Ben. (April 22, 2014). 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Edutopia.
Blogs to Check Out
From Surviving to Thriving
Here’s a list of some of our collaborative work:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Son by Lois Lowry
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate