One of the first lessons a teacher at a new school needs to learn is how to get along with everyone in the school. Two easy ways to do this; thoroughly understand your place in the pecking order of the school, and embrace mutual respect.
Understanding your actual ‘pecking order’ in the school with your administration and fellow colleagues is critical. Firstly, you are not paid enough to make decisions in the school as a teacher and should not attempt to question decisions or make decisions unless you are asked to do so by your administration. Be sure you know, and respect ‘who the boss is’.
Secondly, if you are the ‘new kid on the block’, bide your time and feel things out with your fellow colleagues before trying to ‘rock the boat’ too much. Unfortunately, there will always be experienced teachers who don’t want to hear what you have to offer. Thankfully though, there are those who will see you as a breath of fresh air and welcome your input.
Treat everyone within the school environment with the same degree of respect you would want: principal, custodian, support person, secretary, new and experienced colleagues, parent, student, early childhood educator, lunch supervisor, crossing guard, substitute teacher, librarian, technology specialist, bus driver, school nurse, psychologist, social worker etc.
These are all people whose services, help or favors you may need one day for whatever reason. You’d be amazed the number of times I had to jump on a school bus at the end of the day looking for a student who had left something behind or asked someone to watch my class while I made an emergency washroom visit.
You want to be sure you have looked after your relationship with these various people. A pleasant smile or greeting at the start or the end of the day or week as you pass each other in the hallway can go a long ways when you need it.
You cannot survive in a school working in isolation. The successful running of a school along with your classroom requires a team effort; and you need all the team players you can get on your team.
The old saying ‘Do onto others as you would have them do unto you’ is a great mantra to follow. If your treat people well, in all likelihood, they will treat you well back. It sounds so simple but its amazing how it can work for you.
Did you know that; “10% of conflicts are due to difference in opinion. 90% are due to wrong tone of voice.” Unknown
How many times are conversations, looks, comments, texts, emails etc. misconstrued by yourself until you question the intended meaning. Choose your words carefully and be aware of your body language!
“There are some people who always seem angry and continuously look for conflict. Walk away from these people. The battle they’re are fighting isn’t with you, it’s with themselves.” Rashida Rowe
“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan
There will always be those within a school who have a natural tendency towards conflict and negativity. Avoid these people when possible and when it is unavoidable, use every resource you can muster up within yourself to resolve the issue with limited collateral damage.
The following quotes will hopefully give you some ‘food for thought’ for the next time you find yourself in conflict with a fellow staff member.