- Having meaningful relationships with your coworkers is important.
- Co-teachers should find time to collaborate and support one another.
- Build relationships with your department or grade-level teams.
- Reach out to your administration with any questions or needs.
- Administrators, check in with your teachers and offer encouragement.
- We are all in this together and have a common goal.
There are many ways to build relationships with your students as well as stakeholders. In this blog post, I will discuss how you can build and maintain relationships with colleagues. This could include your co-teachers, department or grade-level team, and your administrative team.We’re all a team with the common goal of student success and achievement. Click To Tweet
In the book Co-Teaching Do’s, Don’ts, and Do Betters by Toby J. Karten and Wendy W. Murawski, you will learn how to navigate the sometimes challenging world of co-teaching. This is a situation that many educators may find themselves new to at the beginning of a new school year. This could be due to a high number of students with IEPs enrolled in your classes. Or it could be due to a high number of English language learners. It could also be due to the fact you have a high number of gifted students and have a G/T specialist co-teaching with you.
As a teacher, I have been in both roles. I have been in a subject-area role as an English teacher working with a special education co-teacher and as an ELL co-teacher pushing into classrooms to co-teach. This year, one of my focuses is helping both sides of the co-teaching equation. I want to support them in having a more streamlined approach to this model. This will help them become more effective in using the talents of both educators.
As the subject-area teacher, don’t block the co-teacher from having access to your lesson plans. Set aside time to co-plan at least once a week. You also don’t want your co-teacher to feel like they are just a “warm body” only in your classroom to support your ELL students or those with IEPs.
Behavior Support and Intervention
Things you should do as a co-teacher if you’re a special educator or ELL expert is to provide your colleague with ideas on how to differentiate and scaffold. They may be used to teaching the upper 20-30% of the students. Assist them in making differentiated assessments that can be tiered towards the level your students are at. During planning, be cognizant of the behavioral supports and interventions both of you need to ensure you’re following through with. When a lesson plan bombs, make sure you’re both planning how that can be tweaked next time. When a behavior intervention doesn’t work for some students, discuss other ideas you can implement in order to ensure your collaborative classroom management is successful.
Department or Grade-level Team Collegial Relationships
Whether your department or grade-level team consists of 4 or 11 teachers, you must ensure, especially if you’re the teacher leader, to have effective team meetings that have an agenda, goals with steps to reach an outcome, and norms. Your team may have at least half new members this year. You’re still getting to know each other. Take the time to ensure that everyone has a chance to socialize outside of school. Perhaps plan a barbeque at someone’s house, a hike, mini golf, or other team-building activities they would like to join.
Too often, some teachers in larger teams feel like they’re left out of conversations and have nothing to contribute to the larger group. As a returning teacher or chair, make sure you’re giving everyone a chance to participate in discussions, goal setting, and assessment planning. If you’re new this year at your school, don’t be shy about volunteering to be a note-taker, timekeeper, or helping set norms and goals throughout the year for your team. If there’s anything that doesn’t feel right, don’t feel bad speaking up to your department/grade-level chair or administrator.
Establishing and Maintaining a Great Relationship with Your Administrative Team
If you’re in a larger high school, your administrative team may consist of 5-7 (assistant) principals and deans. In a smaller school, your principal may be the only administrator. In a school that has a positive culture, teachers are comfortable coming to their admin team with questions and concerns, whether they’re about students, curriculum, and/or colleagues. If you’re a new teacher (or new to your building), don’t be shy about asking these point people questions about things that weren’t covered during the staff in-service days before school started. Your administrative team is pulled in many different directions; it’s not personal if they haven’t checked on you and asked if you have everything you need.[scroll down to keep reading]
Administrative Support to Staff
If you’re a brand-new administrator or new to a building, help instill a positive school climate by finding time to check in with teachers you supervise at least once biweekly and attending the meetings of departments/grade levels you supervise. Have your finger on the “pulse” of the school by being where the action is. Short notes and words of encouragement to your teachers go a long way. If you have a teacher who is experiencing difficulty, either with students, parents, or colleagues, go out of your way to support them. Don’t leave their question hanging. If you need to ask others in your admin team for ideas on supporting the teacher, reach out, or ask your admin Mastermind members.
We Have a Common Goal
This blog post has mentioned several ways in which school staff interact to make this a place of positive, effective learning for students. While we all start the year with the best intentions to honor, acknowledge and appreciate our colleagues, it is something we need to be cognizant of throughout the year. We’re all a team with the common goal of student success and achievement. If you liked this blog post and have ideas you’d like to add to mine, please mention and retweet me @danagoodier mentioning the #colleagialrelationships #studentsuccess and #schoolclimate
About Dana Goodier
Dr. Dana Goodier has 20 years of experience in education. She has taught World Languages and English and worked as a middle school administrator. She completed her doctorate degree (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership in early 2020. For her dissertation, she researched reasons parents were opting their students out of high-stakes testing at middle schools and how that affected the district accreditation rating. She often speaks at conferences, providing educators with techniques to minimize off-task behavior and to increase time on task. She is the host of the “Out of the Trenches” podcast, which features educators who share their stories of resiliency. Follow her on Twitter @danagoodier and visit her website at: www.danagoodier.com