I am someone who can work alone for hours. Part of this is because I tend toward perfectionism and do not always stop when I could stop, and part is simply because I don't get fidgety easily. But a larger part is that I am an introvert -- I find large crowds daunting, and I have to work consciously and with effort to feel capable at general conversation. I do not mean to make myself out as a freak -- I just know I am someone who would more often than not choose to be by myself in my classroom planning or grading than out and about with others.
So, I set myself a goal last year: take my lunch every day to our student commons and eat with the teacher who had commons duty that period. I was successful with actually doing this probably half the time, but I measure a much greater success in what I gained from these casual lunches. I ended up playing my flute in our school's first-ever pit band because of lunch one day with the drama teacher. I discovered a powerful read in Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy because of a lunch with a substitute teacher. I discovered things about my colleagues that I never knew because I let myself be discovered too.
Now comes the opening of this school year. Our school as a whole seems to have set an unstated goal of collegiality. We have had a happy hour, a faculty luncheon, a gathering at the Upper School Head's house, and tomorrow is team building. And I am so energized by all of this. I am looking forward to the school year not just because I love to teach but because I really like my colleagues too. In fact, I am in a small way sad that the students will show up Tuesday because I know this will drive us at least somewhat back into our individual classrooms.
So I have renewed my goal from last year and will bring my lunch to the commons again. I will do all I can to stay in touch with my colleagues. In the end, even we as teachers need to have fun at school -- fun with our students of course, but also fun as professional adults with other professional adults. Now comes remembering to reread this blog when I am mired deep in grading in October!