I recently was subjected to the harsh reality of being the newbie. It can be an exciting time but at the same time so daunting regardless of if you’re a graduate or a seasoned professional.
I’ve never really underestimated the value of an induction or an on-boarding process, but the need for such activities has really been cemented for me in these past few weeks. I’m not talking about the logistics of where my space, my class, the bathroom, or the pens are. I’m not even talking about the processes or the curriculum programmes that are in place. I’m talking about the culture and language of the organisation. The choices that staff make, the how do we do stuff and the why we do it that way.
You’ve got to do the logistical stuff and the processes, they’re important. But first, we need to look at relationships and for me it was this beginning relationship building: the getting to know everyone in the organisation. The hierarchical structure was important, I needed to know where I go to for the information, however it was the connections I was able to make in those first few days that was far more important. Discovering that I had things in common with the people I’m going to spend a lot of time with, was a fantastic starting point for me to feel safe and comfortable in this new environment. The humour that followed cemented the relationships, such as realising some things were hilariously totally opposite: like a massive dislike for mixing my Neapolitan ice cream all into one bowl. These connections and beginning relationships create an atmosphere where respect of difference and positive relationships are normalised. Thompson and Smith’s research tells us when this is mimicked in classrooms the instances of bullying are less profound.
The act of making a person feel welcome, like they belong and that you’ve got high trust and high care of them as a person and of them as a professional, is the most essential induction activity to invest in. It’s a chance to share the language that drives the real culture: to show kindness, understanding and the acceptable conduct that you want staff to then mimic in their daily actions. Every single adult that works in a school or a school community is a leader of culture and those who grow in this culture learn its language and replicate the interactions with others.
Tat feeling of trust, knowing that my knowledge was respected and wanted, has been born from this relationship building. It makes me loyal; I want to stay true to the organisation and work harder. It makes me want to achieve great things in my new place, all because someone told me a story about ice cream.
Check out other articles Candice has written here.