Terms like “networking” are often reserved for the business world. Many educators not only do not proactively network, but they are often discouraged from doing so. However, networking is essential to professional growth and, thus, for educational professionals. While a few teachers and administrators have taken this call and run, especially on platforms such as Twitter, many teachers are still isolated in their classrooms. Here are a few reasons educators should be actively networking:
Classrooms & Schools are Isolating
Schools are busy places and teachers and administrators often become isolated in their schools and classrooms. If you teach five periods, have 1 or 2 preps, and are inundated with paperwork, planning, and students seeking extra help, it can be challenge to meet with other teachers at your school let alone outside of it. Networking can help you keep your finger on the pulse of education as a whole, your subject matter, or your grade-level. It can bring you out of your island into a richer realm of professionals.
Great Professional Development isn’t Always Formal
One of the best benefits for educators is using their network for extended professional development – new trends in practice, a great book, a profound lesson plan, or feedback on a challenge. These are all reasons to tap your broad network of peers.
Education is a Profession Just Like Investment Banking – Treat it Like One
I often get frustrated about the view that education is not so much a profession, but glorified baby sitting. Educators often hold advanced degrees, regularly hone their skills, and are the most “professional” people I know. As such, networking helps to emphasize all of those points. It’s also why I encourage my peers not to keep their networks to others in the field – talk to scientists, lawyers, politicians, economists, and more. We teach future scientists and lawyers, so we should draw from them as well.
Networking can Save you Time
This seems counter-intuitive, but building your network can actually help to save you time. A lot of teachers share out lesson plans, can help you with training, or help you find financial support for professional development or tools for your school. This can save you hours of your own time.
Networking is still key to Career Advancement
Some teachers teach for life, others become administrators or advocates for education. Whatever your career goals, networking is still vital. Perhaps you want to move to a new city or state, your network can help you to find a job. If you are looking to become the next superintendent, your network can help you to advance within your district. The same rules of career advancement in other fields apply to education (See point 3).
Networking is vital for educators to be successful in their field as well as their careers. So get online and join a twitter chat, bring business cards with you to your next conference, or attend a local professional networking event. Get your name and your ideas out there!