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Member & Activist Spotlight

Lindsay Thompson: More than Lesson Plans

Lindsay Thompson is a 17 year veteran educator from Fort Osage, Missouri who teaches high school English.
Lindsay Thompson
Published: August 30, 2021

When I became an educator, I needed to find a community that could give me the advice and support that is so helpful for first-year educators. I am a fifth-generation teacher and grew up surrounded by educators, so people often assume it was easy for me to transition to becoming a new educator myself—but they were wrong.

While everyone in my family was a great source of support, none of them taught the same subjects or even grade as me. I had to look elsewhere for curriculum and classroom advice, and I came to rely on my colleagues as an essential family of supporters. They have proved invaluable to my development as an educator, and I would recommend every new educator to find their own group of fellow teachers for encouragement and guidance.

It’s not just getting help with lesson plans, it’s also about the human connection. You don’t necessarily need to hang out with them, but having a group of people who are kind, want to collaborate, and check in on each other is so meaningful. I encourage all first-year teachers to invite themselves to lunch and to ask to sit with colleagues as a starting point to build those connections.

Finding a group that will hold you to a higher standard and encourages you is priceless. My career has been molded by colleagues that I met at the very beginning and still talk with them 17 years later. Some of them have retired, but they are still resources I can email to ask, “what do you think about this idea?” or, “have you read this article?” or, “I’m thinking about teaching this book.”

Start by connecting with your local union, which can provide a community of support as well as opportunities to attend meetings and workshops, learn how to seek grants, and take advantage of career-advancing leadership development training—including NEA’s excellent group-based Professional Learning Communities.

With your “squad” at your side—however you find them—you will have resources to share, people to vent with, and a strong support system for your entire career.

National Education Association

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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.