If there is one thing I would want a new(er) teacher to take away from my blog, and especially this post, it would be to create your Dream Team. Do you remember the 1992 Olympics with the Dream Team? This was such a big deal for the United States. The team was comprised of some of the best basketball players; Michael Jordan, Carl Malone, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, David Robinson, and Charles Barkley. Sports Illustrated coined “Dream Team” and our lives were forever changed. As a teacher, you need to create your “Dream Team.” I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful mentor, a colleague across the hall, and that teacher’s student teacher. We began referring to ourselves as the “P.O.A.” or “Pocket of Awesome.” Our “P.O.A.” was a unique system of collaboration, encouragement and betterment. There were days when we would talk about things that didn’t seem relevant at the time, but later revealed themselves to be useful in everyday life or the classroom. Our group of collaboration over time, turned into more of a familial dynamic that fostered the growth needed to be a reflective practitioner. Since the induction of our “P.O.A.” my beloved colleagues have moved on to new and exciting career changes, but because our bond was so strong, we still meet and collaborate with each other through technology. I think our “Dream Team” is successful because of the following pieces at play:
- We are humble. Our group accepts that we are not perfect, nor will we ever be. We are trying to be a better person and teacher than yesterday. Somedays that goal is accomplished and others, not even close. We start with a fresh slate each and every day. We are human and are doing our very best.
- We always have our sense of humor about us. We are hilarious. Most of our hilarity is directly related to cat videos*, but for the most part we take the time to enjoy the little things. As a teacher (or human in general) you can’t take yourself too seriously. Life is too short for that.
- We genuinely love and encourage one another. There is no room for jealousy, big egos or pettiness. Ain’t got time for that. Rather, we have created a sisterhood and bond that is so strong that we genuinely want what is best for our friend. I find that many groups fail because they lack this attribute. Without it, your “Dream Team” will be doomed. Pettiness and jealousy are gangrenous and need to be cut out immediately. Each member brings something unique to the table and highlighting those strengths only make your group for the better.
- We talk about non teachery things. See cat videos* above. Other topics up for grabs are movies, television, books, music, kids who farted in class that day, recipes, board games, etc. We are teachers, not dead. We have to have fun things happening in our everyday lives too.
- We troubleshoot. Let me paint you a picture, as a teacher you invest so much time into your lesson plans and you have the perfect one for Monday. You’re excited. These kids don’t know it yet, but they’re about to have a whole lot of awesomeness come their way and their world will be rocked! You give your lesson and you’re teaching your heart out. You feel like you are on top of the world! You look into your students’ eyes and see that they have glazed over. Too. Much. Awesomeness. At the end, you’re bummed. Your lesson plan expectation versus reality did not match and you are at a loss for where it all started to unravel. Your “Dream Team” can help you flush out what went wrong, when it started to unravel and how you can be better next time. You’ll enter into a “no judgement” zone and they will help guide you back from the dark side.
All and all, as a teacher, find your “Dream Team.” It has helped me with my resiliency and improved my quality of teaching and life. No one can do it alone, it takes a team to be successful and to help you be your best.
Huge shout out to Brandee, Amber, Liisaan, Renee, Chelsea, and Deneen for being part of my “Dream Team.” To the original “P.O.A.,” you are my rock!
*Cat videos can be substituted with other cute furry animal videos.