New year, new students, new colleagues. While the challenges and adjustments of a new class is something that teachers will prepare themselves for, they are often not prepared for the shock or disappointment that results when they do not get along with their colleagues. We are taught that a community of educators is comprised of a group of like minded individuals - so where does it all go wrong?
In every profession, there is a clash of personality types. Teaching is no different. It is a world made up of educators from different countries, religions, socio-economic backgrounds, values and preferences. These variations make the teaching world stronger because teachers are able to collaborate and learn from each other. However, these differences occasionally can present a barrier. Feeling unable to collaborate or bond with another teacher can be very frustrating, particularly when it creates an obstacle in student learning or hinders professional development.
If you are feeling the strain of a colleague relationship gone awry, here are four suggestions to break the ice:
1) Pinpoint the problem. If you are able to identify the trigger or stressor that caused the initial issue, do your best to remedy it. Making amends, even if you were not the one who caused the problem, shows that you can be the bigger person, move on and make the best of the relationship.
2) Offer your help. A teacher with a bad mood may simply be one who is feeling overworked and stressed out. By offering to help out, you may be ease this teacher's workload and demonstrate that you are a caring, professional adult.
3) Avoid gossip. While gossip can feel lighthearted and fun, it can be damaging both to the person you are speaking ill of and to yourself. It is easy to misunderstand or misinterpret gossip, especially when the information is overheard or listened to second hand. In every instance it's best to avoid gossip of any kind - particularly when you never know who is listening.
4) Stay Positive. An upbeat, caring personality and a smile goes a long way. If someone tries to tear down your good mood, then you should smile and walk away. You do not need someone else's negativity to sabotage your feelings or change who you are as a person.
It's also important to remember that building positive relationships with your colleagues will take time. It is not something that should be rushed, nor is it something that should be forced. Your colleagues will eventually recognize your positive attitude, your helpfulness and your kindness if you let them. Some relationships will be harder than others to develop, so strive to put your best foot forward and ensure that you are not the one creating the barrier to a positive relationship.
I appreciate reading this sort of thing. I had excellent reviews from student teaching, and I was completely confident and excited to be starting this profession. I was lucky to be welcomed by a wonderful and supportive administration. My colleagues were absolutely amazing.
It is really important to stay positive in challenging times and this alone can help us to get away from drowning into such stressful situations.