In Monday’s post I suggested that one of best paths to professional growth is through partnering with another teacher. This has been true for me. I have partnered with many great teachers over the years. Some collaborations centered on a brief project. Other helping mutual helping relationships have been ongoing for a decade or more. All of these interactions have been peer-to-peer, and each one of us has coached the other at one point.

If you haven’t thought recently about how you might increase your tribe of peer coaches, here are 7 reasons I have found to make this a top priority toward professional growth. 

1. Challenge. Don’t we all work better when we’re pushed? I do. It helps to have a peer there to call me forward. To nudge me in a different direction. If I don’t have people challenging me, I would start to stagnate. That would not be good for me or my students.

2. Brainstorm. A willingness to get moving doesn’t always bring fresh ideas. Having people to kick around new thoughts can really jars things loose. Creativity starts to kick in. That spark that was there when I first became a teacher ignites. In a short time there are so many ideas, help is needed to contain them.

3. Clarity. Maybe this happens to you. I get really excited about my own ideas. I move forward with them. The outcome does not go as I pictured, and I am wondering what went wrong. Has that happened to you? Having peers there as a sounding board can really help you clarify what the next steps are.

Photo Credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia

4. Encouragement. There are times I get down on myself. This is especially true if I tried something new and it didn’t go well. My tribe is there to help me pick up the pieces and salvage what I can. That small group of people can see the good when I can’t and keep me moving forward.

5. Humility. Partnering with people keeps me humble. Just like those times I need clarity, sharing my ideas out loud with others help me see that my thinking is not as great as I thought it was. Sometimes even having someone there to listen just so I can hear myself say it is help enough.

6. Warning. Just like humility, the people in your tribe can show you the red flags you might not see. I have learned that in any group I am a part of, certain members will be sensitive to particular subjects where I am not. They can tell me how it would come across if I were to deliver a certain idea. This has saved me from folly on a few occasions.

7. Piracy. My tribe helps in immeasurable ways, and I owe a debt of gratitude that I can never repay. But that has never stopped me from mercilessly stealing from them. They have great stuff. I want it! So, I take it. It’s not like I haven’t had ideas stolen from me. Let’s be honest, you do the same thing.

The importance of running with a tribe of like-minded people cannot be understated. The tribe lifts you up, protects you, urges you onward. If you have a great tribe of peers who coach each other, you are in an enviable position. If you don’t, then it’s time to make it a priority.

How have your peers helped you? Who is someone you can thank for your progress? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

Top Photo: Hudson Hintze

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