My first year of teaching was fun and overwhelming. I had a very challenging group of 25 first graders (at least I thought they were). At the end of each quarter, I was required to submit a reading and writing portfolio for each student. Near the end of the first quarter, my deadline was fast approaching and my student portfolios were an unorganized mess. I was doing the work, but just hadn’t figured out a good “organize as you go” type of system. The evening before my portfolios were due, I was in my classroom doing my best to organize all of the papers but was making very little progress. I even had my Earth Wind and Fire playing as a source of inspiration. As the evening went on, a teacher from my grade level casually walked over from her classroom. She entered my classroom snapping her fingers and moving her shoulders to the beat of the music. I remember thinking that I hoped she wasn’t coming over to distract me. She ended up being an absolute distraction. She was such a distraction that by the time she left all of my student portfolios were organized and ready for inspection. From that day forward, that teacher became by buddy and thought partner. We “did school” together and it changed the course of the year for both of us.
Do you have a buddy/thought partner in your building or school? Sometimes there’s an instant connection between people, but in other instances it takes time for a relationship to develop. The key word is trust, and there are structures and strategies that can help create an environment where people are receptive to the idea of improving and maintaining positive relationships. For example, I’ve always enjoyed meaningful opportunities to collaborate with my colleagues. Authentic work allows colleagues to challenge each other’s thinking, engage in frequent dialogue, and share in the joy of a job well done.
Keep an open mind this year to the wonderful and unique perspectives of others. Let’s take an active role in supporting conditions that foster positive relationships and avoid building barriers to trust. Part of prepping my students for field trips was explaining to them the importance of the buddy system. I was very dramatic in my explanation of its lifesaving benefits. It turns out that the buddy system has been a lifesaver throughout my educational career.
Share your buddy system stories!
Have a great week,