Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Teaching and networking - why should we?


As teachers, we know our job is mostly a solo gig and I think most of us chose it for that reason. It's nice to be in charge of what you do and how you do it. That being said, for all my teaching career, there have been all sorts of events, workshops, seminars, conferences, team building events; all meant to foster comradeship and present ample opportunities to network. Ah, that word, network, networking, networked. Why should we?

A quick search on Google will get you several million hits on the use of networking. Not all of them are about teaching, but the principle of bettering oneself though connecting with others is a valid point for all professions. Maybe not if you're an international, Bond-like spy. But for the rest of us, it's safe to say networking is not a bad idea.

So why should we? Here's my list of reasons:

1. Support
You will rarely feel as much part of a professional category or tribe as you do during an event, conference, workshop. There is something intrinsically good about getting like-minded people together so they can meet each other, be impressed with each other, like each other, and ultimately provide support to each other. That is if they are not hell bent on world domination. In that case, bad, very bad.
That feeling of belonging might get you through a bad day, might make you reach out for help, might make you help someone, might  mean a new friend and in a job where you’ll be flying solo most times, I sure do appreciate moments when I can cheer on fellow teachers and get cheered on.

2. Growth
This connects to support. When I started teaching, most of my growth came from teachers I worked with that graciously passed on their knowledge and patiently held my hand. But as your career grows, so do your needs for personal growth and if are a senior teacher, the chances you’ll be on the receiving end are slimmer. 
That doesn’t mean you don’t grow. You will learn about new technology, about new topics and trends, you’ll get a rush of energy from the new people. But you might want more.
Great. Go to a conference, event, workshop. Connect to people you don’t see everyday and you are bound to learn a trick or two. I credit my Delta classmates and the conferences I’ve gone to in the past two years with helping me grow as a teacher and as a person.

3. Change
Unless you live in a big city (or even if you do), you probably have a chartered course that you run though in a week. I’m a work, farmers market, dinner in a couple of places, shopping, walk the dog kind of person. My favourite thing about networking is that it’s usually somewhere I’ve never been. I get to change my course for a few days, see a new city, be around different people, try my hand at the local language (should I say try my tongue?) and enjoy the temporary change.

4. Fun
Most events have dinners, snacks, drinks preplanned. It’s in the schedule. It’s the epitome of networking. So have fun with it. Drink and eat, both until you can still entertain an adult, mumble-free conversation while managing to stay upright. Don't hog people, but rather mingle. If don't know anyone, chances are there are at least 5 other people with the same problem so now, go out there and find them. Most importantly, don't forget your business cards at home. 


So at the end of it all, should we network? Should we go that extra mile?
The answer is absolutely yes.



The Sound Eater


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