Sometimes, teaching is plain sailing: blue skies and fluffy clouds. At other times, it can feel like you're in a tempest while up a certain creek minus a paddle – with a crocodile snapping behind you, to boot. At both of those times, you need to make sure you have the best of the best by your side – your go-to people, your "teacher squad".
It goes without saying that you should take the time to befriend your school's admin staff and cleaners – but they are not the only ones you need in your teacher squad. Here's the rundown of who else you need to keep your little boat afloat both in calm and stormy waters.
From the technology teacher who encouraged you to engage with "the little ones" during Year 6 transition days to the dance teacher who dared you to get your students moving around the classroom, these are the members of your teacher squad who can give you a fresh perspective and set your mind racing with new ideas and challenges to implement in your own practice.
These are the ones with the prophetic words and a story or two. Always calm and always consistent, they have a million and one pep talks up their sleeves and are definitely who you need by your side when a storm blows your way. They make the best sounding boards when you need a good vent – they've seen it all before, so they know when to dish out words of support and, annoyingly, they also know when you just need a bit of tough love. The parent in them loves to watch you grow and will always have your back – to the extent that the student rumour mill will certainly question if they are secretly your mum…
These are the members of your squad who will motivate you like no one else can and throw you a lifejacket when you feel like you're drowning. From a positive Post-it note stuck to your computer screen to a packet of chocolate fingers left on your desk or an email to SLT about the amazing lesson they saw you do with Year 11, never underestimate the power of kind words and thoughtful gestures. We all came into teaching because we care and want to do the best for our future generations but we also need people who will care for us and motivate us in the same way we do for our students.
These are the irreplaceable members of your teacher squad who spill out from your school life and become a vital part of your real life. They will drive you to work when your car is at the garage, look after your hamster while you're away on holiday, invite you over for dinner to meet their partner or ask you be maid of honour at their wedding. These are the ones who remind you that there is more to you than just being Miss K the humanities teacher; these people grow to be so much more than just a part of your teacher squad. They become your life squad.
And how do you form a teacher squad? Simple: be the kind of person you would want on your own squad. Share your resources, offer to get other people's photocopying done, put the kettle on, always have a sweet treat up your sleeve and leave a surprise on someone's desk if you know they're having a bad day. After all, we are all in the same boat, so do your best to help keep the waters calm and the skies blue...even if that does mean dodging a few crocodiles along the way!
So, here's to teacher squads – especially my own, to whom I am forever grateful: may we form them, may we nurture them, may we celebrate them.
Jema Kinsman is a humanities teacher in the Midlands. She tweets @niftyhistorian
For World Teachers' Day 2019, Tes is having a new teacher takeover – every piece published on our website on 5 October will be by a new or early career teacher. Find the rest of the articles at our World Teachers' Day hub