Friday, February 4, 2011

Week 18: The Social Workplace

At my first teaching job I spent all of time my time either in my office or teaching in the classroom. I felt envious of other teachers who I saw relaxing and hanging out but I felt so overwhelmed by my job that I didn’t feel I had the time to socialize.

About half way through the year, I realized how isolated I felt. I hadn’t taken advantage of new teacher events and the “oh you’re new here” openness people expressed to me had worn out.

The next year I made more of an effort to get to get know people but in way it was too late. Now, part of it was the fact that I didn’t gel with the people I worked with. I’m not saying that they weren’t all nice people, it’s just that sometimes people just don’t click and it’s nobody’s fault. But honestly the biggest part of it was me. I don’t think I could have done any different with my time but I wish it could have been another way.

When I started this new job last fall a couple things were different. I had more experience so I was more efficient with my time, I had significantly more prep time in my schedule (which is my new argument for how to make teachers better in America) and I wanted to simply have more fun with my job.

So in my first month at my job I visited more than 20 different classrooms in the school, spent time hanging out with in the different school offices chilling with administrative assistants and got to know as many people as possible.

I found that I seemed to click more with the people at this school than with the people at my first job.  This had as much to do the effort I put into getting to know people as the type of person at my new job, who are a lot like me.

There are also practical reasons to be social beyond the joy of hanging out. You do not want the only time that you talk to your boss to be when you have bad news. And even though it’s a tech person’s job to help you with your computer, he or she is a lot more likely to be actually help you if you have some friendly interactions before you faced the beach ball of doom.

Almost all jobs are the business of working with people. While it may mean that you have to stay at work a little later taking time to get to know the people around you makes you a happier and more productive worker. 

Also, it makes work that much more entertaining. 

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