Every school is an amazing institution where knowledge is imparted and bright minds are being developed into the leaders and managers of the future. All of this is possible thanks to the hard working people that spend about half of their working week preparing to be in the classroom, the other half of their working week to implement and deliver an amazing lesson. All this preparation, which requires a great deal of creativity and time takes place in one place, the little sacred place where coffee flows almost non-stop and friendships that last a lifetime are formed: the Teacher’s Office.
Given that the Teacher’s Office is such an integral and important part of every school, it is important to keep in mind that while it could be a sacred haven for teachers, it’s a special place shared with others, thus, it is imperative that any new ESL professional comes in with the right disposition when it comes time to join an Academic Team.
The Teachers’ Office
The Teachers’ Office is more than an office where you will have a desk, a place to leave your books and stationery and a place where you will access a computer and the school’s intranet. The Teacher’s Office is where you will start building your network, you’ll be able to exchange ideas, learn from others and make contributions that will follow your entire career. The following are a few pieces of advise that will help you make your presence in the Teacher’s Office a tool for your own success and also a couple of suggestions on what to avoid so it doesn’t turn into a disaster.
A Place to Connect
The Teacher’s Office is a place for you to Network. You have just started your new ESL career, and even if you won’t be teaching the rest of your life, those individuals that share the Teacher’s Office with you are there for similar reasons to yours, and for the year you’ll spend there, these people will be like your family. While they can be a great support system, the ESL career is one of the nomads, particularly encouraged by the one-year contract policy. Those individuals will have successful careers and might hold management positions, one of them might become your manager one day, so start networking, start building a rapport with everyone, build a friendship so in years from now, when you are looking for a new job or they are, that job hunt might be a short one. But that might be too long term and right now you might be focusing more on short term, then, network for short term, the people in the Teacher’s Office will be willing to help you and will have great advice to help you adapt and adjust to life in your new country and career.
The Space and What it Represents You
The Teacher’s Office is a place where you will spend a great deal of time, now that you have figured out the great individuals that you are working with and how to work with them, let’s put the Teacher’s Office in the spatial perspective, the space and what it represents to you. During your time at the school as an ESL teacher you will spend time at your working station writing lesson plans and developing materials, in order to complete your tasks successfully, you will need to have the proper atmosphere surrounding you. Start with your working station, keep your desk, cupboard, teacher’s box, board (not all schools offer these but most of them do) well-organized and tidy. Use folders, notebooks, thumbtacks and whatever office supplies available to make sure your lesson plans are organized by course or by day, your timetable is in a place easily visible to you and others, your stationery is properly stored. If you are ever in doubt, have a look around the teacher’s office and see how people keep things organized and if still in doubt, speak to your direct manager for company guidelines or just some good suggestions.
The Right Attitude
While keeping a tidy and organized working space will help you be an efficient teacher, there is something that will affect you or others in the Teacher’s Office, and this brings us back to people and the biggest DON’T: Having the wrong attitude! Things like idle gossip, speaking ill of the company or other co-workers will simply create a negative atmosphere in the Teacher’s Office and will definitely affect your work. Unhappy teachers make for poorly planned and prepared lessons, a happy teacher projects a better energy and enthusiasm in the classroom. A friend once told me that he was working at a school and the manager said: “ even if you are not happy, just be a good teacher” my friend left the school shortly after that, he also explained how there was a lot of gossiping and being in the teacher’s office just became unbearable. As a new member of the Academic team, contribute to the team by having the right attitude, avoid gossip, if you disagree with management, speak to your managers, propose solutions to the problems (don’t complain) and above all be respectful of the place and culture that you will live in for the next year.
To sum up, the Teacher’s Office will be a place where you will be able to meet great people who could be an asset to your network of professionals or even friends for life, if they are just an acquaintance that you befriended on Facebook, it’s always a win. You will be sharing this space so keep it tidy and well-organized so your work can be done well and efficiently. Above all else, have the right attitude, never gossip, keep the lines of communication open, your managers will do their best so you are happy at work, but you also need to make an effort towards being in a Teacher’s Office where ideas, cooperation and teamwork flow alongside never-ending cups of coffee.