The academe isn’t an easy place to be. While teaching has always been one of the noblest professions, the environment in the teacher’s lounge can be as intimidating as any boardroom. Any classroom is as challenging as any language workshop for teachers and every faculty gathering can be as tedious as a networking event.
While the primary reason teachers are there is to teach, they need to deal with other aspects when it comes to surviving the academe. Things like tenure, faculty evaluations, and teachers’ unions are all ever-present and lurking behind every test that you check. Everything is graded in the academic world—and that includes the teachers themselves.
So, how can you still grow in this environment while doing your job well? Following your teacher’s handbook is something you can consider, but there are other ways to go about it as well:
Be more active in dealing with the administration
All teachers are subject to the rules and bylaws laid down by the campus or university administration. While these regulations can change or vary from department to department, there are certain figures that you should pay attention to (and dialogue with) when important issues arise. One of these is your department’s dean.
Deans often have an extraordinary amount of influence within and outside their departments, making familiarity with them extremely crucial to your campus experience. Other aspects that you need to be familiar with include the heads of administrative facilities, the school’s alumni spokesperson, and the head of security at your school (if you have one).
Proactive involvement in student activities
The days of unreachable teachers are dwindling to a close. Given the kind of students that you’ll most likely be dealing with, rapport and interaction with them on a personal level is a necessity. You’ll find that student activities are often integral to your life as a teacher, and your engagement with them will always extend far beyond the classroom. This is not only expected of you by your department, but also by your students.
Another important reason you should be more involved with your student activities is it gives you a good gauge of your areas for improvement as a teacher. Feedback for teachers may primarily occur in the teacher evaluations at the end of the semester, but engagement outside the classroom is another way that you can get your feedback from them.
Always be on the lookout for new things
Finally, a good way to enjoy your time in the education field is to train yourself continuously. Teaching is no different from bodybuilding in the sense that you exercise your mind instead of your muscles. While you may have in-depth knowledge of your specialization, you should understand that information about any subject can change with time and innovation. It’s important to stay ahead of these developments.
Otherwise, you should always look toward expanding your skillset. Language workshops for teachers, university research, and group discussions within your faculty or department are good ways to keep your mind active.