Service jobs such as teaching require support and encouragement to do the job well. It's impossible to go it alone as our work depends on multiple systems, groups, and individuals.
It's important to take time out to determine where your best supports lie--who or what supports the work you do, and how does this support translate into better, more thoughtful service to students?
An ed consultant I met with recently surveyed a group of educators with this topic. Educators noted that their greatest support came from their close group of colleagues and Google searches. I have to say that's mostly true for me too. I've also connected with some agencies and individuals outside of the school system that offer terrific support for the teaching/learning program too. The Massachusetts' Teachers' Union has been a great support to me with regard to professional learning and effort. Other organizations such as MassCUE, edcamp, ECET2, #edchat, #satchat, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, The Bill and Melinda Gates Education Foundation, Framingham State University, and so many more have supported my work as well.
This summer I want to do a better audit of the groups, individuals, and organizations that support my work with strength. I want to talk to other educators that I meet about this question too as I think it's time-efficient and wise to identify groups that support your work well and those that take time, but offer little support. It's good to nurture the positive relationships so that you have what you need to continue to develop your practice in ways that matter.
It's possible that the audit will demonstrate that I've spent significant time in areas that offer little support, and less time with regard to agencies and organizations that offer tremendous support. In many ways, educators act as consultants when they do their work. We navigate the teaching/learning road by maximizing our supports and time with regard to teaching students well. There's always room for improvement and better work as we learn more and nurture those important teaching/learning relationships.
Who supports your work and service to students the most? How do you nurture those relationships?
Where is your time best spent with regard to developing your craft? How do you make good decisions with regard to your teaching/learning time?
These are good questions to consider as the summer takes hold.