When should teachers feel comfortable asking for help? That’s a simple question with a not-so-simple answer. Many educators feel like asking for help paints them as an incompetent professional in the eyes of their administrators, ill-equipped to tackle the rigors of teaching. However, with today’s demands for teachers steadily increasing, it is certainly reasonable that we need more support. Here are some scenarios when it’s the right time to ask for help.
When a Few Minutes of Someone Else’s Time Saves an Hour of Yours
What’s brand-spankin’ new to one teacher may be second nature to another. If someone can quickly lend you a hand, thereby saving you precious time and energy, asking for help makes sense. While there are valuable lessons inherent in the “baptism by fire” approach of learning, the commodity of time is rarely on a teacher’s side.
If It Results in Decreased Disruptions to Learning
Asking for help and advice when dealing with challenging students is tricky. Teachers, especially new teachers, don’t want to give the impression that they cannot manage their classrooms. However, it’s important to establish a culture of learning, which is why seeking assistance for the sake of students’ education is a no-brainer. As veteran educator Suzanne Capek Tingley writes, “Getting help is one of the best classroom management techniques.” Use your available resources, be they veteran teachers, the school’s mentor program, or online communities.
When You’ve Tried Several Approaches, but Haven’t Gotten Expected or Desired Outcomes
Teachers understand the need to over-prepare. That’s why we always have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and Plan SOS HELP NOW! This necessary foresight is in large part responsible for the approximately 1,500 decisions teachers must make during every instructional day. That number, based on research from four decades ago, is likely low, notes Education Week. So, if all the brainstorming, decision-making, and implementation have proven unsuccessful, it’s time to ask for help. This goes for new teachers trying their hand at something for the first time, as well as for veteran teachers working their way out of a rut or experimenting with fresh ideas. Simply put, if asking for help makes you a better educator, ASK.
If It Means Better Connections with Students
There’s a reason some teachers are considered better than others. It’s not that their teaching credentials, classroom experience, or content knowledge set them apart. What makes a good teacher great is their willingness and ability to build.
“A great teacher bridges gaps and builds relationships, friendships, and a community, notes Rusul Alrubail, writing for Edutopia. “Building a community is something a great teacher seeks to do in the classroom and extends that to the entire school.”
Creating these important connections and communities doesn’t happen overnight or without the help of a village. If you’ve ever engaged in some low-level reconnaissance for the sake of reaching a student, you’ve likely asked someone for help. Colleagues, secretaries, and community members are all valuable resources when it comes to learning about students’ backgrounds. And in this case—especially in this case—it’s not only reasonable to ask for help but admirable. Anyone willing to go the extra mile to help a child is worth their weight in gold.
Asking for help is an important part of growing in any profession, which is why it should be encouraged and not discouraged. Teachers can also be proactive by consistently collaborating and openly communicating with colleagues. Our co-workers are our greatest resource, and time spent learning with and from them is always time well spent.