"I'd love to stay and chat more, but I have a quick meeting with Stacy" I innocently commented to a colleague
"I'm sorry, with who?" I was asked.
"Stacy, the living environment teacher, her room is actually right around the corner from you."
"Oh, her. I thought there was a new teacher in that room but I never see her."
You'd think that this conversation occurred in September, at the start of a school year. I'm sorry to say that his occurred last week, in late-June.
During the short walk to Stacy's room, an often quoted phrased jumped in my head normally reserved for celebrities:
"Invisibility is a fate worse than failure."Stacy had become invisible. Further, if she had become invisible to her colleagues, how visible was she to her students?
This article is about pragmatic steps to make yourself visible without adding additional work.
Educators who are visible, "get" education.
Stacy had a bumpy education background, never really solidifying herself in a district and seemed to be a drifter.
I immediately recognized her when she began teaching in my building because we shared a graduate class together. Interestingly enough, I can recall with explicit detail a question she posed to our graduate group:
"Well, if you don't have a class at the beginning of the day, can't you just come in when you need to teach?"
To which the professor responded "No, the contract defines a professional start time, however, as a new teacher, you need to be there long before the students arrive."
...she didn't get it then...
New teachers face an uphill battle; there is truly nothing like the first year. Some thrive, some dive, and some become invisible.
With everything on your professional plate, the last thing you need to worry about is becoming visible rather than receding into oblivion.
Below is a list of pragmatic steps to become visible without working harder. The goal is to make lasting memories in your students and colleagues.
1. Arrive early and leave late
This one is first for a reason: it is the most important. Find out what time your building opens and arrive at that time.
Develop a reputation for arriving early and staying late. Being a new teacher, acknowledge the time commitment associated with it. You are going to be in your classroom A LOT.
When you get there early, people will notice. When they leave and you are still at it, people will notice.
2. Park in the same spot
Be "that guy" or "that girl" with the black truck (fill in your car). You get to school early so everyone will notice your vehicle as soon as they park. Mentally, they think "wow, this person is here every day before me, they must be a hard worker."
Though they may not know you, yet, they know something about you: that you care about your job enough to be the first at school everyday.
3. Stop by the office daily to say hello to all of the secretaries
They are the metaphorical mortar that holds the institution together and are the unsung heroes of education. As a new educator, you'll need their help sooner or later. Develop a relationship with them by simply saying hello everyday- no need to chat, a simple "good morning" is all it takes.
4. Attend events...
... as a judge, clock operator, chaperone, or spectator. It is meaningful to students when you attend. Take an active role in becoming involved in what they do. Not only does it give you a connection with them, but you are SEEN at the event.
5. Be the event: coach
New teachers are asked to coach. Though you are often advised to say "no", I encourage you to say "yes". It is a fantastic experience where you not only become visible to your colleagues, administration, and students, but also the public.
6. Ask for study halls and hall duty as your supervisory duty
This is an easy way to get to know a "special group" of students. During hall duty, you'll bump into the same students- the type of students that don't want to be in class. In your study hall, you won't be surprised to find the same students you see wandering.
"Tough" kids become more manageable when they know you already. Hall duty and study halls are important ways to make that initial introduction.
7. Teach heck out of your content!
"How was your day?" my wife asked as I entered the door.
"AWESOME! I taught the HECK out of stem cells today!" I exclaimed.
Slam dunk lessons are exhilarating. You fly through a lesson with 100% engagement and everything clicks.
Visible teachers are fantastic educators. Strive for nothing less.
Try a few of the above techniques to prevent yourself from sliding into oblivion. What is the number one way to become visible?
Be an amazing teacher. So keep your chin up and keep chugging.
Thanks for reading.
Photo Credit: Ed Gregory from Stokpic