Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for nosing around...?

Dear Ask a Teacher,

I’m a first-year teacher, and I have a job, so why do other teachers keep telling me I need to network?  I figure I’ll meet other teachers and administrators during the year, and that will fill my networking quota.  Plus, I go to plenty of professional development, so I’m sure I know enough people in education.  What’s the deal with everyone pushing “networking?”  I’m already doing it!  Am I missing the point somehow?

Tired of casting my net, because it’s full

Dear Tired,

Yes, you’re missing the point.  However, depending on your goal, it’s a point that may not need to be made.

Do you want to move up into administration?  Do you have visions of being principal, or running your own district?  Then keep working that network, baby.  Most administrators aren’t good teachers, but they all have the desire to move UP, and the way to do that, besides principal certification and an advanced degree, is to know people.  In public schools, it’s not how good you are at your job, it’s how many people you know and how quickly you can scramble over them to get that great assistant principalship, because only suckers want to actually keep teaching.  Most people encouraging you to network want to see what YOU can do for THEM.

Do want to stay in the classroom?  Then don’t worry about it.  You’ll meet enough people, and you need to keep those contacts close.  Trust me, pretty soon you’ll want to leave your school, and you’ll want to check in with your network to find schools where you should or shouldn’t apply.  For teachers, this is the entire point of the network.  Otherwise you might get starry-eyed when a district announces that they’ll pay a “hiring bonus” and you’ll end up working in a minefield.

Hope this is helpful, Tired.  I’m still looking for a decent school to escape to, so I’m networking like crazy.  In the meantime, enjoy the A to Z blog challenge.  That’s another good place to cast your net.

Ms. Michaels, who’s currently trying to dodge the mines