6 Things to Remember if your Friend is a Teacher
Secondary Sara 8:08 PM
Congrats! One of your friends scored a teaching job (or perhaps is in the process of getting one).
Since it's Teacher Appreciation Week here in the US, let's talk about the easiest, cheapest, least-effort ways you can appreciate that teacher friend. (Not that you aren't already wonderful.)
In no order, please remember...
#1: We are really, really tired.
Don't over-analyze it if we want to go home earlier, stay home on Sundays, or can't muster the energy to go out on a Friday. We get up early, and a teaching day is more of a workout than most people realize. If we turn in early, it is NOT personal.
#2: Don't stop inviting us to things.
Even if we say no (and often), please don't ever stop inviting. Our busy days or seasons might not be the same as yours, and you never know when we are going to say YES and desperately want to see you. For example, sometimes a weeknight happy hour is a laughable dream with the grading pile we're currently battling, but other days we are perfectly fine going out on a school night.
Feeling left out is never cool, and teachers can be bad at the work-life balance, so please don't fade away.
... And on a side note, make sure you always "invite" us into conversations, too. Don't stop initiating phone calls or sending the first text out of fear of bothering us or us being too busy, and keep us in the loop of group conversations.
#3: Ask us how school is going.
Even if you really, REALLY don't care. You might be the only one who asks, the only one we can vent to, or the specific person whose opinion we want about an issue. (And besides - depending on what our work-life balance has been like this week, it might be the one thing we CAN talk about best, or the area in which we need some affirmation.)
It's easy: start by asking us what we're teaching right now. Or if anything exciting is going on at school. Or if we have any fun stories about cool things students did.
Don't feel like you have to bring up controversial issues or speak really intelligently about educational theory in return. (In fact, we may not want to think more about what's-wrong-with-education-these-days.)
If your friend talks about school TOO much, approach it neutrally by saying that you want BOTH of you to have a limit of how much you talk about work, but that it's always fine if he or she needs to chat about something important.
#4: Be specific about what you need from us.
Healthy communication is important in all friendships ANYWAY, but don't expect us to be able to read your mind.
Our friendship may evolve. We may have to make use of precious time differently. And if we are more "out of it" than usual, you may need to bluntly state that you need a movie night, want to talk more, want us to reserve every Friday night for you, or need a listener. Don't bottle it up in an attempt to "be nice" and then start resenting it if we're not meeting your needs!
#5: Have extra mercy in certain times of the year.
Back to school, report card week, and end of the year should be free passes. The to-do lists are long, time-consuming, and sometimes required by law.
(But remember: when it's over, we want to CELEBRATE!)
#6: If your friend is a NEW teacher, is in a new role, is in a new building, or is a new parent, multiply all that advice by 1,000.
New teachers, even the really qualified ones, have to work twice as hard to get used to the building, build up their teaching endurance, figuring out how to teach the content to THAT group of kids, and, in some cases, doing additional new-teacher training. (Fun.)
So if your friend is new to the profession, start every conversation with the question of how it's going, and gauge from there which thing your buddy needs more: space or support.
No matter what the dynamics of your friendship are, THANK YOU for sticking around. YOU are part of what makes us better people and empower us to help change our student's lives.
So really, if this were a sport, you'd get credit for the assist. ;-)