The Necessity of a Teacher Support Network

Emily Coleman
Emily Coleman
English language development teacher for a cyber charter school; Ph.D. candidate in Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies with Education concentration

Teaching is a rich and rewarding career that can change the lives of students forever. Teachers are able to share their passions with others and see them overcome challenges and barriers to find success. Although this sounds like a wonderful, carefree profession, teaching can be very taxing and mentally and physically exhausting. Teachers need a place to recharge or have a sounding board when times get overwhelming. Teachers need each other to lean on, emotional support, a teacher support network.

Why a Teacher Support Network is Essential

Teachers need their own emotional support network from the daily drags of teaching to the most complicated situations. Burnout, teacher anxiety, and teacher depression are real things that happen for many amazing teachers. These teachers give and give and give; they work nights and weekends, trying to develop the most engaging lesson plans for all of their different types of learners, and more.

When teacher burnout and teacher stress are high, having that personal support network in place can be extremely helpful. You need to be able to voice your frustrations to others and have them support you in ways that show you that your feelings are real and how you can make it better.

These support networks can also offer constructive criticism. When you have your own core group, you should feel confident enough to explain where you are struggling and ask for suggestions.

These teachers or other staff members might just have the idea that you never thought of that can work for you. Constructive criticism is something positive and should never be looked at as though others are negatively judging your ability to teach. Great things can come from a different perspective.

Even if you are not experiencing teacher burnout, there will still be days that you need to vent to someone. Whether it is because a student is driving you crazy or administration is asking you to do something that is not part of your job, having a group to confide in could be what you need to let go of any frustration that might be impacting your day.

Additionally, these support networks can be very advantageous when dealing with challenging students or situations. Collaboration is a tool that teachers don’t often get to use because of the lack of co-planning time. Having support networks in place will allow you to collaborate even if you don’t see each other much in the day.

Who is Your Support Network?

Teacher support networks can be a mix of teachers, administrators, and other school staff. You need to find those who you click with and can trust. You want people who build you up, not tear you down when you struggle the most.

Find those who support your goals. Are you passionate about trying new techniques in your classroom? Do you want to return to school to get your master’s degree? Don’t surround yourself with those who are fine with the status quo if you want to keep evolving. We have all had contact with “Debbie-Downers” and negative individuals in our lives. Your support network should positively influence your well-being, not pull you down.

These types of people can produce more stress for you instead of tranquility. You also want to make sure that those in your network are willing to share their struggles as well and need your support. You want it to be a reciprocal relationship. This is how trust will build among the group.

How to Build and Strengthen Your Support Network

It’s essential to always be building and expanding your network, especially your teacher support network. Teachers leave, new people start in your building, etc.

Make a list of those who are part of your support network and see if you are missing any critical areas in your group. Find others who are passionate about the same topics as you. You can bounce ideas off of one another and learn new strategies.

Build new relationships with your colleagues and maintain the close relationships that you have in your support network:

  • Be present for your co-workers
  • Be ready to listen and offer ideas
  • Be open to sharing your struggles with those in your group
  • Depend on them
  • Be vulnerable with them

Teaching is one of the most fulfilling and important professions in our world. Our students come from so many different backgrounds and are on all different levels. We strive to do our best every single day so that we can make a difference in our students’ lives.

Sometimes, the stress can get to be too much, which is why teacher wellness is vital. If you have a teacher support network, it can make all the difference. Having a core group to help you get through the tough times will make you a better teacher, help you to stay in the profession, and keep your teacher morale burning bright.

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