Lessons I learnt in the teaching profession:
If you are coming to a new place, the first thing you should do before making friends is stay alone and observe people. Keep to yourself and avoid hanging out with your colleagues as far as possible until you are certain y’all can vibe. You can still have a good professional relationship without having to befriend them. Observe people’s characters from what they say, how they interact with others and what they say about others to you. You’ll have snitches at your work place so watch out for those. Be vigilant and look out for yourself more than anything. Always try to seem too busy for chitchats. If colleagues are going out, make excuses to miss out because best believe they are going to gossip while eating and drinking out.
Do not talk about your boss
Do not engage in conversations which include gossiping about your boss. Let them talk, do not contribute. The relationship with your colleague and your boss might not be the same as yours and the boss. Remember that you are new and you need to prove yourself to your boss especially for jobs that start with probation.
Be kind, offer to help as far as possible. Make yourself available for any services to be offered. You will earn a good reputation trust me. Offer to carry those boxes for your colleague, offer to supervise any activities if no one is willing. Volunteer as far as possible. Greet people. Always greet people with a smile even if you are having a bad day. Be kind to the janitors too. Make small conversations but nothing too deep. Smile when you meet your colleagues in the hallways.
Do not talk about your personal issues with colleagues until you are sure you have established a friendship. Colleagues talk a lot and they will tell you about their own problems, but listen and not share anything personal. You don’t know how much truth there is in what they are telling you so don’t take chances to put yourself out there like that. They could use that against you. Do not be personal at work. Make jokes of whatever contemporary issues are going on but do not talk about what’s going in your life.
Conversations about politics are everywhere even at work places. Do not engage. Do not reveal what political party you belong to, do not air your views because you don’t know who’s politician’s relative or friend you will be offending once you start bashing the other political teams you don’t support. At the school that I work, there’s a whole diversity of people. Almost every Namibian ethnicity group is represented at my school so it’s very important not to make tribal jokes or assumptions about other tribes. I know this is not related to politics but I just have to put it out there that if you are new you can’t be the same one joining on the tribal jokes. If your colleagues call each other nicknames do not join in to call them those nicknames as well. They aren’t for you.
Stay off your phone
Being on your phone at work does not give a good picture unless your work requires you to work with your phone. Even during lunch breaks try to limit the amount of time you spend on your phone. Spend time trying to seem busy, let your boss think you prioritize work more than your personal life even if that’s not so. Avoid phone calls unrelated to work. Also, block your superiors, boss, colleagues on your social media especially WhatsApp status. Let them have that professional image of you and only that. Mind what you post on social media as well because your boss could be your follower. Avoid taking pictures at your workplace so often.
Follow the rules
Should have been number one. Follow the rules to the letter. Dress appropriately even when others don’t. Follow the timetable given. Do everything by the book. Do not listen to the legends at your work place who now come late because they have all the excuses in the world. For recommendations sake, impress your boss by following the rules. You can’t get it right all the time but when you don’t, apologize genuinely and promise to change. Learn to ask for clarity where you don’t understand. The bosses love to engage in conversations where they have to exercise their knowledge and expertise. They love to brag about how much they know about their work so ask them even about things you know just to give them the pleasure of talking about something they love. Ask about your work policies, how they feel about the changes happening with the circulars especially with this COVID19 Pandemic. These are the conversations you should be having with your boss. Let them air their views and you listen.
The most important thing is to make your time at your job worthwhile. Enjoy the little extravagant activities the job offers, the little birthday celebrations and every fun activity your job offers. Take pride in your work, speak highly of your work and enjoy every bit of it. All work and no play will kill you. I work with kids there’s always something to laugh about because kids are such beautiful human beings.. I try not to get attached to them but they don’t make it easy for me. Today one of them gave me a teachers prayer that I’ll laminate and keep forever . It’s these little things about my work that I enjoy!
Happy International Teachers Day! ❤️