Friday, April 20, 2012

Developing Friendships

I've found that one difficulty in being a young teacher is that when I get together with other young teachers, it's easy to just talk about school (since school consumes so much of our time and attention). Talking about the world, about life, about random things becomes so much more difficult because the common ground of an enclosed community and small work-place is the basis, or at least the starting point, for friendship.

Last night, I had dinner with a bunch of the other young teachers from CAJ, and was thankful that everyone made an effort to break beyond the school-talk. Of course, we did talk plenty about school--that's to be expected, I suppose, but we also talked about summer plans, movies, family. This was refreshing and I needed it after a busy week.

It wasn't effortless conversation, but breaking outside of a mold never is effortless. My image of young adults gathering and talking is a good mixture of joking and light-heartedness, and profound, thoughtful discussion about life, faith, growing up/how we want to continue to grow. Such deep conversation requires trust and a willingness to break beyond the superficial safety of talking about work.

Developing friendships with my fellow young teachers seems important--perhaps because of our unique position and ability to support, uplift and encourage one another: nobody knows what it's like to be a young teacher better than other young teachers. This doesn't mean teaching needs to be the topic of conversation--simply that there is a level of empathy present when fellowshipping with other teachers that isn't present in other situations. The same is true of any profession (though the inescapably social nature of teaching likely requires seeking out strong social support to a greater degree than some other jobs).

I realize that I must take my part in developing such encouragement, depth and support seriously. It's easy for me to sit back and listen only or to only talk about school-related things. As always, intentionality is a must.

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