- Build connections on social media to combat the loneliness you may be feeling.
- This post shares 7 tips for connecting online, including joining Twitter chats, using hashtags to find like-minded educators, engaging in conversations, being vulnerable, and being mindful of what you consume.
Have you ever had a teacher bestie? I have.
I used to have teachers who worked in the room next door or across the hall or in another wing who I could go to so I could get advice, share a funny story, or talk through a new change. It was wonderful to have someone to walk through life with at work! I feel happier at work when I have a teacher bestie or a few teacher buddies. I feel less lonely. Supported. Connected.
I have someone to high-five when things go right or cry with during hard days. Similarly, I also have a buddy to cheer on when they achieve a goal. I have a teammate to encourage and support during their hard days or weeks! It’s a wonderful season to have someone at work with whom you really connect.You deserve to have a team that supports you! That team may be scattered across the world, but there are friendly faces with lots of passion who can be your team. Click To Tweet
However, there are seasons where I don’t have a teacher bestie.
A few of my teacher besties have moved to other schools, districts, or states. There are seasons where I don’t feel as connected to a team… and that feels very, very lonely.
There’s a lot I can do to develop, nurture, and build relationships with those I serve alongside at work. Yes, relationships take time. Yes, some relationships take more time and more effort than others. I 100% believe this is time well-served.
As I talk with teachers across schools, districts, grade levels, and content areas, something always strikes me. There are people in every school building who don’t have a “job-alike.” For example, there is only one orchestra teacher in a building. Perhaps, there’s only one visual art teacher. Maybe there are only 1 or 2 multilingual specialists. Perhaps there’s only one bilingual or dual language educator on the team for the grade level. Many of us go to work every day feeling like we are on an island.
And that can be hard. It can feel really lonely. Day after day, week after week. It can take its toll.
Why don’t we talk about our loneliness as teachers, especially if there are many of us who struggle with it at work?
The pandemic has especially exacerbated our own loneliness as we have switched between teaching remotely and teaching in-person. We cannot physically be together. We are all so exhausted from being on our computers and laptops all day long that it’s physically and emotionally draining to log in for a virtual social gathering!
As we continue to pour ourselves into our work and those we serve, we often lose sight of how our loneliness impacts our overall wellness.
There are things that we can do to combat our loneliness – and one of those things is making connections with like-minded folks online.
Here are my personal top 7 tips for connecting online!
Building Connections Tip #1
If you are wishing you had a job-alike, you can find thousands of job-alikes on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Search hashtags of your content or specialization and start following folks who use that hashtag! I have met hundreds of multilingual educators by searching and following folks who use #multilingual #ELL #ESOL #BilingualEd #DualLanguage and more! Not only do I find great resources and ideas, but I have found people who do the same work and have the same professional passions as me.
Building Connections Tip #2
Join conversations by engaging in Twitter chats. There are so many great content-specific chats that happen weekly or biweekly. I’ve met folks from across the world through Twitter chats. I can retweet responses that resonate with me or push my thinking. At the end of the chat, I go through to see who tweeted and I follow each of the folks who participated.
Building Connections Tip #3
Engage in conversations online. Respond to people’s messages. Ask questions. Thank people who have helped you grow. Watch live streams on Facebook or Twitter and add in your comments. As you continue to do this, you will start to recognize names. Say hello in the comments to friends you recognize!
Building Connections Tip #4
Get in those inboxes. Reach out and introduce yourself. Share your appreciation for their posts or their content. Make those introductions and build those relationships.
Building Connections Tip #5
Join Facebook groups, such as the Teach Better private Facebook group. Introduce yourself. Share a question you are wondering about or share a great resource you’ve found that has helped you. This builds community![scroll down to keep reading]
Building Connections Tip #6
Be vulnerable. It’s okay to share that you are struggling. I’ve had to get really honest with my loneliness in the last few months. The best thing I did for myself was sharing with a group of people that I’ve been lonely. I wish I had earlier! I never felt more supported. I’ve had friends who have shared messages of encouragement or invites to Voxer groups or who have sent me a friendly text message to cheer me on.
Building Connections Tip #7
Be mindful of what you consume online: doom-scrolling isn’t the same as being intentional with your online interactions. Use your social media to build you up and encourage you! Use your social media to build others up and encourage them! Monitor your social media usage and unfollow those that drain you emotionally or spiritually.
I hope that you are able to fight and combat your loneliness during these times. If you need encouragement, don’t be afraid to ask for it. There are many of us out there struggling with this, too. You deserve to have a team that supports you! That team may be scattered across the world, but there are friendly faces with lots of passion who can be your team.
About Carly Spina
Carly Spina has 15 years of experience in Multilingual Education, including her service as an EL teacher, a third-grade bilingual classroom teacher, and a district-wide EL/Bilingual/Dual Language Instructional Coach. She is currently serving 8 schools (EC-8) in a linguistically rich community of over 60 languages and over 800 active EL students. Spina has engaged in the successful co-creation of several parent outreach programs, Title I tutoring programs for students in grades 3-5, mentoring programs for middle school students, co-teaching initiatives, and more. She is deeply passionate about equity and advocacy for multilingual learners and fights for access and inclusive opportunities for kids and families.
Spina actively fights against food insecurity in the community she serves. She has spoken at various national conferences and events and has received several awards over the years, including the Illinois Education Association Reg Weaver Human & Civil Rights Award in 2015 and the Distinguished Service Award for Excellence in the Team Category for EL Community Engagement in 2019. She was the WIDA Featured Educator in April 2019 and was named a Paul Harris Fellow in July of 2019. Spina is an active member of the EL/Bilingual community on social media and enjoys networking and growing with teachers and leaders across the country. She is currently working on her first book with EduMatch Publishing.