For educators like us, we’re constantly asked about life inside the classroom. No matter who inquires about teacher life, these conversations can sometimes feel repetitive and perfunctory. It’s time to flip the script and refresh the way both you and your community think about teaching. Rather than regurgitating the same stories from the past school year, use these conversations as a rewarding opportunity to learn from those around you in a way that can actually enrich your teaching this fall.
Here are four people you might encounter this summer and how to make these conversations more meaningful and authentic for both of you.
This may be your childhood bestie working in a completely different industry who supports you unconditionally but knows very little about what it really means to be a teacher. Your friend has already heard of the many ups and downs of the past school year, so why not ask them for input as you get ready for the new year. Your family and friends all use tools that did not exist when they were in school. Use this as an opportunity to understand what skill sets are really critical for youth to develop to prepare for the future workforce.
Flip the conversation and ask: What are the major skills you wish you had learned before graduating high school? What technology do you use most in your industry today?
This could be the new professional acquaintance you met at a summer professional development who teaches in a totally different community from your own. Teachers often compare and contrast campus and district life, so use this as an opportunity to learn about the innovative things happening in their classroom.
Flip the conversation and ask: What do you plan to do differently in your classroom this year? What technology resources have provided your students with the best learning experiences?
This might be a person you meet at a coffee shop or a friend’s party who knows very little about the world of education. This individual very well may comment on how easy teaching must be, especially when you are out on summer vacation. Push your new friend to consider how they too can support student development. You might have even just identified a new student mentor!
Flip the conversation and ask: What are your go-to tools to enhance, organize, or streamline your own life and work? How could a student use these same tools to get the most out of their education?
This is the one teacher friend who really gets you. You may not see each other every day during the summer, but keeping up with them is an important way to mentally prepare for the new school year ahead. You and your school BFF will inevitably reminisce on the past year, and focusing on victories is essential. When you catch up, think about how you both can build on what went well during the previous year rather than agonize over anything that went wrong. You and your campus buddy can prepare for next year by capitalizing on good summer vibes.
Flip the conversation and ask: What was your biggest win last year, and how can we take that one step further this year? What are you trying to learn before the new year begins?
These are just a few of the people you may encounter that will inevitably ask you about your work. Similar conversations happen in every industry but can be particularly meaningful for educators. When you encounter summer small talk, use these moments as an opportunity to reflect and motivate yourself ahead of the coming school year.