The teaching world is fraught with challenges and obstacles. Helicopter parents, huge class sizes, faculty meetings that test the limits of your patience. In all of this, it’s good to know that someone’s got your back (and a spare dollar for a Diet Coke from the vending machine).

It can take a while to find your person. A new school, a new team, a weird stage of life—all of these things can delay finding your teaching BFF. But when you’ve found them, trust us, you’ll know.

Here’s our teaching BFF checklist:

1. They know your school beverage.

Iced vanilla latte, half-sweet. Route 44 Dr. Pepper. Hot green tea. Whatever it is, your teaching BFF knows it (and will occasionally deliver it without notice, like a silent little hydration angel).

2. They have impeccable taste in memes and GIFs.

Bonus points for the content they create themselves, like the screenshot of your principal’s latest autocorrect fail asking the faculty who is “in prison” instead of “interested.”

3. You have one of two seating arrangements during faculty meetings or PD.

Either you sit next to each other, or you strategically sit where you can’t see each other because neither of you has self-control when something funny happens.

4. They can talk you off a ledge.

Your teaching BFF is the one you go to after a child spills a bucket of tiny beads for their science project on your floor; your computer deletes the 45-question final you were working on to force-start a software update; or the passive-aggressive school-wide email is OBVIOUSLY about your department. Four minutes laughing together and you’re cool as a cucumber again.

5. Your teaching BFF has your back.

When you’re about to leave for school and your own child starts projectile-vomiting, you know that after just one text, your teaching BFF will email the principal, make copies of your lesson, and help the substitute get situated. Why? Because you’d do the same for them in a heartbeat.

6. They tell you yes. 

When you have big aspirations and lofty goals, all for the betterment of your students, you need someone to tell you to go for it. 

Your dream field trip finally has an opening the day before a holiday break?

You’re about to have your first baby and found out about the world’s most perfect master’s program?

An AP position opens up that you desperately want but it also feels terrifying?

They’re the ones saying “Do it.”

7. They also tell you, “Absolutely not.”

Not all our ideas are good ones. This is when you need a teacher BFF (and we need the maturity to hear) to wisely recommend to pump the breaks.

Like when you’re fuming and really want to send the email containing the sentence “How dare you?” used unironically.

Or when you feel pressured to volunteer to hold unpaid tutorials over winter break.

Or a parent tries to convince you that whispering the answers is an actual accommodation.

They’re the ones saying “Honey, no.”

8. You can have an entire conversation with just a look.

When an administrator shows a slide in their PowerPoint that says, “THIS IS ABOUT COMPLIANCE, NOT CREATIVITY,” you turn your head and slow blink, your BFF flares her nostrils, and both of you know that nothing else needs to be said.

9. You’ll both share your most prized supplies.

Your friendship runs deep enough that you trust each other with the teaching world’s least-likely-to-be-returned items: packing tape, hot-glue gun, fancy scissors.

And you know what? They’ve put enough capital in your friendship bank account to forget.

10. You have fun doing menial tasks together.

Entering grades, cutting up sentence strips, sorting your file cabinet … somehow these tasks are 90% easier and more fun together. It’s like parallel play, but for grown-ups.

11. You keep each other informed about important things.

“No toilet paper in the faculty restroom.”

“Grades are due today.”

“Banana pudding is running low at the luncheon—grabbed you a bowl.”

12. You have seen each other at your worst.

This includes looking your worst, like the time you accidentally wore your “walking-the-dog slippers” to school, and acting your worst, like the time you … well, let’s just not mention it.

13. You have the same nemesis.

The nemesis might be an actual person or it might be the staff room copier that keeps printing out your worksheets as 1 x 3-inch miniatures, but you share a unique bond over a common enemy.

14. They know your “tells.”

They can sense when you’re nervous, sad, angry—and know how to swoop in with the right fix.

15. You’re constantly just popping in.

Like this lady. And you’re definitely on level 5 of this teacher’s visual reference for measuring inter-teacher closeness.

16. There’s no judgment.

With a teaching BFF, there’s no judgment for an off-day, for the 17 beverages surrounding your desk, or the fact that your cardigan is both inside out and backwards.

They’ve been there. They get it.

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