When you are new to a school, country or any situation, it can take a while to acclimate. If you are shy by nature it may take even longer and, things can feel overwhelming. It is normal to feel anxious, but it certainly helps to know that there is always someone willing to help. This article shares a few points that you can consider to help to overcome shyness when you are a newbie. Before long, you will have an entire network of friends!
You are not alone!
Most teachers prior to transitioning join teacher groups on social media, where they connect with others either already there or on their way. Once you are settled, let the teachers that you connected with know where you are. Set a coffee date where you can meet in person. Keep in mind that there are other teachers who are also new to the school and country. Like you, they are hoping to make new connections. At work, keep an eye out for teachers who have lived in the country for a while and get to know them. Observe body language and use that as a marker to guide the comments that you make and the type of questions that you ask. Network with others – co-workers, neighbours and/or local organisations. Social media is a great tool for staying connected. Join online groups that align with your personal interests. Opt for groups which will help you to have a positive experience in your new environment. You have to get out there and make yourself visible.
Once you start socialising with others, the invitations will start rolling in. Turn up when you accept an invitation and participate. Many events are family oriented, so you can bring your family along for additional support. If you are alone, there are lots of events where you can meet and interact with others who are here without family. Remember to alert the person who invited you that your plans have changed when you are unable to attend an event.
A smile sends the message that you are approachable. Smile when you meet someone for the first time. Express a genuine interest in what they have to say. Be mindful of the culture and what is appropriate to ask. It is polite to enquire after the wellbeing of children. Be helpful to those who offer you assistance. For example, if school faculty welcomes you, gives you resources and materials; return the favour by bringing a nice tray of refreshments for all to indulge. This will help to show your appreciation. In addition, if a neighbour helps you move in, be nice. Invite them over for dinner or give them a “Thank You,” card.
Share what you know. Make contributions to your department and the school. Showcase your abilities in meetings. Answer questions when you have an answer. You have a wealth of knowledge and if it aids in the success of your students, share it in your meetings! Engage in small talk with your neighbours. These are the people who may be able to help you in your personal life.
When you are shy, it may seem like a lot of work trying to engage with others. However, once you interact with others, you soon find that you have a good network of people that you can rely on. Before you know it, you will be able to assist someone, who was just like you!
By PreSha Barnes
PreSha has been an educator for the past seven years. Originally from Houston, Texas, PreSha is passionate about empowering other educators. She is also a former Teach Middle East Magazine Blogger.