One of the best things about teaching, besides the actual teaching, is the community that comes with any school. As you begin your journey as a first-year teacher I suggest getting involved in that wonderful community.
When I first started teaching I was nervous to interact with parents and students outside of the classroom. While I was nervous, I knew the value that came from getting to know students for who they were, not just their academics. I started slowly with this by attending some cross country meets and a few of the cross-country practices. It was fun to see my students’ faces when I would show up at practice and run with them. I would ask them questions and spend the mile getting to know them. It was fun the next day when they came to school and we’re talking about how Miss Kelley was at their practice last night.
I continue to get involved with my school community through a variety of things such as attending basketball games, volunteering at the school golf outing, attending fundraisers, and occasionally attending Sunday mass at our parish. These are all great ways for me to get to know the students and the parents, but for them to also get to know who I am.
I also happened to teach an after-school Irish dance program, which has also been a great way for me to get to know my students even better. This is even more fun because I teach dance to students in kindergarten through 8th grade, so I get to know students before I have them in 4th grade and I get to see them continue into middle school. Because I got to know my students so well through the Irish dance program, I even had about 20 to 30 students and parents attend my wedding, and then I had about 10 students Irish dance at my reception. It was really a special thing to be able to share this wonderful day with my students and their parents because they are such a big part of my life.
I’m not saying that you need to invite students or their parents to your wedding, but I do think there is a value in letting them be part of your life and to take the time to get to know who they are. Whether it’s attending a baseball game or maybe a ballet recital (I think I’ve seen the Nutcracker 4 times now), seeing them outside of school brings so much value to your teaching and to who you are as a person. Trust me when I say, investing in your community will be very rewarding in the end!