At lunch today, a teacher said to me, “Aviva, you must be excited about next year!”
I replied with, “I am excited, but I’m also scared. I’m happy and sad all at the same time. I’m glad that I made the choice to go, and I think that this will be a wonderful challenge and change, but this is definitely a time of mixed emotions.”
We then had a great chat about the move, in which she ended by saying, “But just think: you’ll get to make so many new friends! Isn’t that exciting?!”
It is exciting, but honestly, this is the part that scares me the most. The truth is, I find it hard to make friends. As somebody with a non-verbal learning disability, social interactions are often difficult. I have a large number of acquaintances, but only a few close friends. I’m great in structured social situations. I can talk and listen in groups at a staff meeting, present at and attend workshops, and participate in team meetings. But unstructured social situations make my stomach turn.
- How will I start the conversation?
- How do I join in well when others are conversing?
- How do I know when it’s the best time to start talking, and how do I know when it’s the best time to stop?
- What might people want to talk about?
- How do I introduce myself?
- Do I wait for staff members to come and see me, or do I go and try to find them?
- Do I find those staff members that I know first, or should I be brave and start by introducing myself to new people?
These questions have been swirling around in my mind all afternoon. I’m an adult. I’m an educator. I’ve had to make new friends before, but even at 36 years old, it’s a struggle. I look at what Royan Lee, a teacher in York Region, is doing as he helps students make friends, and I think: I could benefit from one of those groups. And so today, I look to my adult social group — my amazing PLN — that has helped me through a lot over the years, and I ask for one more favour: how would you suggest making new friends at a new school? I’d welcome any words of advice!
Aviva, An Introverted Extrovert 🙂
HOW DO YOU FIND IT HARD TO MAKE FRIENDS????? YOU’RE MISS DUNSIGER!!!
Awww … thanks for the vote of confidence, Layla! I guess that I never know exactly what to say to people or how best to start the conversations. What would you suggest?
Actually, I think Layla is on to something. You are very outgoing, friendly and approachable with students – whether you know them personally or not. So, my advice is start with your comfort zone – the kids – and then gradually work your way towards the more challenging staff relationships. Staff will see you with the students and quickly see how approachable you are. Then…no problems!
Wow Kristi! I love this idea! Thanks! I never really considered this before, but I’m glad that you jumped onto what Layla suggested. I think this could work!
Thanks for helping me feel less nervous!
Here’s my suggestion. Volunteer something at the school which they would really appreciate. That will earn some respect. When you first start at the school, don’t broadcast your many achievements. Do more listening than talking and follow my mantra which is posted in the front of my classroom says, “Actions speak louder than words.” Finally, bring in some delicious treats to the first staff meeting telling them you were excited about going to a new school and wanted to share your excitment with some baking. You will not only have them eating off of your plates, they will be “eating out of your hands” too.
I hope this helps.
Thanks Herman! These are all wonderful ideas. Truthfully, I’m not one to discuss achievements anyway. I don’t feel comfortable doing so. But I always enjoy volunteering time in schools, and I can definitely do the “treat thing” too. Food always helps connect people.
I appreciate the suggestions!
For question number FOUR (!!!) I think you should start off just by introducing yourself, the school you used to teach in, your interests, and your awesome way of teaching. That might lead to something. Or if it doesn’t, you could talk about your new class that you’re going to teach in, if you’re excited, etc.
Hope I helped!
Thanks for the suggestions, Layla! I love hearing your ideas, and you’re giving me lots of great ones to consider. Thank you for having such confidence in me … I’m definitely a lucky teacher to have such an absolutely amazing class!
Aviva I have been thinking about this for a while. My wife is highly introverted and me as you know is the exact opposite. I think the main difference is that introverts put a lot of thought into what to say or if what they say is impacting the conversation. Extroverts (or at least me) most of the time don’t think and just react.
Not to say that this is the best way but maybe just be yourself and react to the conversation. For me conversation follows rhythms and patterns, you just listen a follow those patterns. I also find it helpful to think about what people are interested in and use that in conversation. I think you are a worthwhile person to get to know. You have a lot of knowledge, are quite funny, encouraging, positive and someone I would love spending time with and I am sure many feel this same thing. Have you read the book quiet yet. Highly recommend it if you haven’t. I know this may not be helpful advice but I hope it helps.
Thanks Jonathan! I appreciate your advice. Once I get to know people, I can do everything you suggested, but it’s getting started. I think that I just need to let go, and go with the conversation.
I perused QUIET a while ago, but didn’t read it closely. I think that I will be this summer. Thanks Jonathan!
I hope it is not late to reply. Whenever I am forced into a new environment full of new colleagues in a staff room discussing something, I deliver my punch line. It makes people chuckle. If I meet a new colleague, I smile and introduce myself. Then I find something about them to complement about. This way I make some small steps to more become comfortable with people. I hope this helps.
Thanks Sandhya! It’s not too late at all, and I really appreciate the advice. It’s great to hear about what people do that actually works.