My first teaching job was an elementary general music position at 2 schools. One of the schools was toxic and chaotic, the other was friendly and supportive. Both taught me important lessons about the importance of choosing the right teacher friends.
The Timesucker vs. The Reciprocator
RUN FROM: The Timesucker
Traits: self-centered, oblivious, talkative (even when you are in a hurry), manipulative
RUN TO: The Reciprocator
Find the reciprocators at your school as soon as you can and then aspire to be a reciprocator yourself. They are often a major reason why a school has a positive, healthy climate. Reciprocators will ask you for favors but will also help you when you need it. They don’t keep score, and neither should you, but you know that you have each other’s backs. The reciprocator respects your time, are appreciative of your help, and are happy to lend a hand whenever possible. Someone that allows you to send children to their room for a break is a tell-tale sign of a reciprocator. We all need a buddy classroom sometimes! Veteran teachers and mentor teachers are often reciprocators because they’ve been where you are, they are rooting for you, and they see your potential.
Traits: kind, giving, loyal, helpful, perceptive, respectful
The Gossip vs. The Out-of-the-Looper
RUN FROM: The Gossip
Gossips will hurt you by spreading rumors or negative stories about you and other teachers. People are drawn to them because they always seem to have the inside scoop. But be warned, hanging around gossips can create a toxic and negative school environment for you. The worst kind of gossip will befriend for the sheer purpose of getting dirt on you and won’t think twice about sharing info with admin. They’ll stretch the truth to make you look bad. Associate with them only when you have to. Stay clear of the teacher’s lounge at lunch if you find the gossips often congregate there.
Traits: jealous, selfish, cliquish, competitive, attention-seeking
RUN TO: The Out-of-the-Looper
Out-of-the-loopers make great friends! They aren’t interested in other people’s drama and care more about your successes as a teacher. They will be your biggest cheerleader and you will be theirs. They often march to the beat of their own drum, and are sometimes judged by others for being different. Students are their main focus and they don’t care much about what others think. You will hear them gush about their students often, and they can be trusted to give you kind and constructive feedback. This person will have your back! At my first school, this person was the art teacher. She was close to retirement and I was a newbie, but we had a magical bond and still do. Out-of-the-loopers can be hard to come by, so treasure them!
Traits: humble, caring, giving, quiet in large groups/meetings