Wednesday Weekly Wisdom #2: Who are you people?

Welcome to Wednesday Weekly Wisdom. Click here for background on what I mean, or read last week’s post here

I want to start this week by addressing a feeling that many of you are probably having with regards to your teaching team – the feeling of not really knowing anyone. Especially for first year volunteers, it’s not uncommon to still feel like someone on the outside looking in.

If you were lucky, you met your team (or at least a few members) at the first in person training. You’ve hopefully started having conference calls, though, they’ve either been basic intros or discussions about the classroom plan. Many of you still only know each other through the internet. And many of your teammates work in different places for different companies, so meeting up is a luxury.

It’s ok! These feelings are normal, and you are not alone. If you don’t know someone on your team, they also don’t know you, and nearly every team is in the same place.

However, as a remote team, this is not a problem that will solve itself. Remote teams don’t have the chance to have the casual, face to face conversations that build teamship. You don’t have 5 minutes before class to chat or a carpool ride to catch up. You handoff plan is an online shared document, your chit-chat is audio/visual testing before class starts, and your team meetings are all virtual.

Remote teaching is incredible, but it also easily leads to getting through most of a year, looking around, and still thinking, “who are these people?”

It’s worth figuring out how your team will build a sense of teamship. The better you know each other, the better you’ll operate better as a unit. You’ll also have an easier time calling out problems and disagreeing (constructively) with one another – both of which are critical to success. And, if your team hasn’t communicated at all yet, it’s past time! It’s ok for anyone to send that first (or second, or third) email to the team. If you feel like you need more communication, communicate more! And if you’re having trouble reaching people, including your classroom teacher, leverage your Regional Manager – they’re there to help you succeed!

So, find some time to bond. If you’re lucky enough to work close to each other, have you weekly sync calls in person, and call the classroom teacher together. If you’re a little more spread out, find the time every so often to get together. A team breakfast or lunch not even once a month goes a long way. Last year, my time got breakfast once about every six weeks, and even the people who dined solely on coffee would come and enjoy having a chance catch up. If nothing else, plan your school visits together! You’ll likely have a couple hours of travel time, or at the very least, will get most of a day in person together. And if that is truly the only way to see each other, then it is a good use of time, even if you’re tempted to spread out your visits.

Right now, you’re called a team. Soon, you’ll be teaching together as a team. And with a little effort, you can be feeling like a team in no time.

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