The Best (& Easiest) Way to Find Encouragement, Inspiration, & Solutions
If you’re trying to figure out teaching all by yourself, chances are you’re struggling.
Maybe your school doesn’t have a great support system and your colleagues aren’t exactly the encouraging type.
But that doesn’t mean you should go it alone.
When you’re confused, discouraged, or just don’t know what to do about a particular issue, discussing the issue with a group of trusted teachers can be just what you need. Often someone else can quickly pinpoint a problem or suggest that elusive solution.
You see, we were created to thrive on community and to learn better together.
And one of the best ways teachers can learn, grow, and stay encouraged is by intentionally connecting with other educators.
What if Your Colleagues Are….. Um….. Not the Best?
When I was teaching, I taught at an amazing Christian school. Seriously, the staff and faculty there were so awesome.
A few minutes in the teachers’ lounge would typically leave me encouraged and inspired.
And I had a host of wonderful mentors I could go to for advice.
Unfortunately, that’s just not the case for many of you.
But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to wander the teaching world alone for all eternity.
It just means you need to get intentional about finding the right people with which to connect.
Masterminds & PLC’s
As an education blogger, I’ve recently been privileged to connect with other education bloggers to discuss what’s working, what’s not, and how we can all improve.
It’s been incredibly helpful, and I can’t help but think that this type of intentional collaboration would work wonders for many a frustrated or confused teacher.
In the entrepreneurial world, this is called a mastermind group.
And I believe the same concept can work incredibly well for teachers.
A mastermind group (or I supposed you could call it a PLC) can look like pretty much anything, but basically it’s a group of teachers getting together with the goal of helping each other learn and grow.
You can set it up however you’d like, but to make this post super practical, I’m going to go ahead & give you some step-by-step ideas of how you could structure such a group – just to get you thinking in the right direction.
How to Create an Awesome Teaching Mastermind / PLC:
Step 1: Find the right people.
- A small group of 3 – 4 teachers is awesome because it’s small enough that you can really get to know everyone and their situation.
- Find people who are in somewhat similar situations but are not exactly the same as you. When you’re putting together your group, you don’t want to go too broad. A preschool teacher at an elite Christian school and a high school English teacher at a Title 1 school in the inner city will have little in common and might struggle to relate to each other. However, that doesn’t mean you need to find someone in the exact same situation either because a variety of viewpoints will lend some perspective to your discussions. Likewise, the other teachers don’t have to share all of your views, but your views shouldn’t be so incompatible as to make collaboration and discussion stressful or counter-productive.
- You can find people in all sorts of places. Are there any teachers at your school whom you admire or respect? How about teachers you know through friends, family, or your church? Another great place to find great teachers is online. There are some awesome teaching Facebook groups, including Teach 4 the Heart’s Christian Teachers’ Lounge.
Step 2: Pick the right format.
Many mastermind groups have a specific meet-up time, whether in person or virtually. If you can make that work, then by all means, go for it.
But, honestly, you really don’t have to add another meeting to your already jam-packed schedule to make this work.
Consider these two alternatives:
- Private Facebook group: Create a private Facebook group just for your small mastermind group. You can then share thoughts, questions, & encouragement with each other whenever you have a couple minutes free.
- Voxer: I’ve recently started using Voxer & I am seriously loving it. Basically, Voxer is a free smart phone app that allows you to send voice messages. Now that may not sound so spectacular, but let me explain the benefits…
- You can say sooo much more than you can type: When you’re speaking instead of typing, you can say much more in much less time. As a result, your conversations can be much more in-depth without your feeling like you’re typing your little fingers off.
- Your tone of voice comes across much better via voice than text. We all know how easy it is to misunderstand an email or text message. Voice messages really help reduce those misunderstandings.
It’s like having a meeting without the meeting.
- You get to have a conversation without having to synch schedules or worry about getting stuck on the phone. You feel like you’re talking to each other (you are), but you have the convenience of listening & responding to messages whenever you have a few minutes free. So much easier than trying to plan a meeting!
- It’s easy! And maybe best of all, it’s super easy to use. Once you sign up (for free) and find each other, all you have to do is push a button to talk & press play to listen.
How do you find Voxer? Just search for it in the app store or check it out here.
Step 3: Have the right mindset.
If you want your group to be successful, it can’t be all about you.
Instead, be more focused on helping everyone else than on getting help yourself.
Because when everyone’s focused on adding value, you’ll find lots of value yourself.
Step 4 (Optional): Choose the right resource.
You can certainly keep things super informal – just discussing problems and solutions as they arise.
But if you really want to kick the learning into high gear, consider picking a book or a course to work on together over the summer.
Here are a few great options:
- Check out these 5 awesome teaching books dealing with various topics.
- Struggling with classroom management? Consider enrolling in my online course, Classroom Management 101. Or you can grab my free mini-course.
- Want to learn how to incorporate more technology in your classroom? Jennifer Gonzalez’s Teacher’s Guide to Tech Jump Start mini-course looks awesome!
Do you have a group of teachers that you learn with? We’d love to hear your experience.