In a New Job
With experience comes the opportunity to have honed our craft. But experience and honing aren't necessary to have a profoundly positive impact on the people in our lives. Especially for teachers and other "helper" professionals.
This fall, whether we are completely new to a profession or new to a particular community, we never need to prove ourselves and we never need to hold ourselves back. Those we’re with want us to play full out, to bring ourselves fully to the court, to engage in this game here and now.
In some ways, beginners have an advantage: their vision is broader, heightened, and less clouded by the illusion of already "knowing."
My younger son’s advisor this year is new to his school. I asked my son to make sure that he’s welcoming and helpful to this new teacher. Most of us are nervous when we join a new community, and teachers are no exception.
There’s so much newness in a new job - people, buildings, routines, and unknown expectations - that it can be very challenging to join a new community at all. Let alone a school community, where adults are there to train kids in skeptical thinking, where adolescents in their desire for fun can sometimes be cruel. And wherever we go, especially in a school, most people are busy enough to forget what it was like to be new.
On top of these new relationships and the acclimation to a new culture, the job still needs to get done. For teachers, it’s new faculty and school cultures, planning lessons, setting up the classroom space, and hitting the ground running from day 1 while standing on stage in a spotlight.
None of this is inherently a problem, of course. In fact, it can be an exciting and thrilling adventure. By nature of our humanity, we needn’t live at the effect of our environments, circumstances, or challenges, and we all have the capacity to thrive in exploration and presence of mind. Furthermore, we all have an inherent wisdom, wholeness, and unbreakable nature, and this can be applied in any situation. Even for new teachers.
However, most of us haven’t had much training in how to stay grounded despite the occasional storms and apparent insecurity of life. We live in a symptom-focused society where the absence of obvious disease means health, and we’re expected to figure things out on our own until then. For teachers and other “helper” professions, we’re also expected to continue to have a positive impact on others without anyone checking in on how we’re doing.
Nearly all of us are doing our best for ourselves and others, yet too much we live in a mildly desperate hope that our colleagues, our students, and ourselves can hold it together well enough to function sufficiently. It's not even about thriving as much as it is about surviving and "making it." But without training and understanding, it's a game of craps.
We have an untapped capacity for satisfaction, enjoyment, and effectiveness. And while most of us haven’t developed an understanding of how to access it, one thing is certain: our environments can help. The more at ease we are in our environments and communities, the more at ease we can be in life. While lasting ease comes from the inside-out, the people in our environment and communities can certainly have a positive impact on us.
This is why I want my son to let his teacher know she’s welcomed, she’s cared about, and there are people in this community who know she can thrive.
He said to me that parents usually tell their kids to be friendly to the new students, but I’m talking about the teachers. “It’s just that important,” I told him. And it would be good if he’s friendly to the new students too.
Because of our broad impact, teachers and other professionals who mentor, guide, teach, and/or support must be healthy and well. Their families depend on it. Our kids depend on it. And our society and future depend on it.
Thanks so much for reading. ❤️