Friday, July 19, 2013

Part 3 Teacher Survival Guide Post on Navigating School Politics, AND Teacher Pay Teacher Linky!

PART 3: New Teacher Survival Guide Series

How To: Navigate School Politics

Yes, you will find love, appreciation, and respect in your teaching profession.   Most students will give you all three, which will sustain you and bolster your resiliency.  To find and nurture love, appreciation and respect with your principal, colleagues and parents is often a trickier proposition. There are some cautionary maneuvers that are necessary during the first couple of years of teaching that will serve you well.  Faculty meetings, conversations with the principal,  relationship building with colleagues and parents are deemed the cautionary zones.  Always tap into your incredible intuition as you go about your business of the day.  More than likely if you follow your intuition all will be good. But when your intuition does not kick in or there is a full moon the following helpful tips will serve as a life vest in those choppy waters of politics.  

Your relationship with your principal is a keen consideration when looking for love, appreciation and respect.  During faculty meetings generally keep your mouth shut, especially if there is a heated topic.  This axiom holds true for the first couple of years when you are walking the tight rope of tenure.  When there is break out time for collaboration at table groups during a meeting, your input can be mashed with other comments and your voice can be discreetly heard.  Often you will have several questions after a faculty meeting; it is better to write those questions down and seek out a colleague who will provide the answers.  Usually there is a senior colleague who will dominate the meeting with comments and questions.  Let this person run the gauntlet, and you will stay safe.

What about the day to day interactions with the principal?  Note: safe and productive conversations with the principal have some boundaries as well.  The administration offices/office is a cautionary zone.   There are certain times when you will know without a doubt that a visit to the principal’s office is mandatory.  Some let’s-get-to-the-principal’s-office incidents would include a destructive student bully, a parent abusing his/her child, or signs of child neglect by parents.  However, generally you will not be visiting the principal’s office frequently; instead a low profile is advised.  When you do pop your head in give a brief update on something remarkable, awesome and fabulous that happened in your classroom that day.  This communication provides a nice, celebratory break for the principal.  Whenever you are grateful for something the principal has done to make your life easier, then a smile and a thank you goes a long way in building a solid relationship. 

Next, you need to consider your interactions with parents.  Relationships with parents are built slowly!  Do not fall into the trap of telling a parent your life story; it is better to keep a professional relationship.  A parent on a field trip may send out a message that he/she wants to be your good friend; this is a cautionary zone!  Yes, you will tell parents at back to school night some tidbits about your background, but use your good intuition or ask a colleague when in doubt about how much to share.  Never, let on that you have had very little experience teaching or  experience with a grade level.  Remember you have several years of experience acquiring your credential which qualifies you to teach several grades and your student teaching COUNTS!  Your relationship with parents is nurtured through parent conferences, newsletters, and friendly calls home to tell them about how wonderful Johnny was at school  today.  Parents are your support.  Parents are on your team to ensure that their child succeeds. Answer parent emails promptly.  Read your emails to parents two times before sending them off.  If upset about an email, better to wait a day before responding.  These tips will keep you in the happy zone.

Your happy zone is also dependent on your relationship with colleagues.  The politics around colleague relationships is a grey zone, which means exceptions exist. So these cautionary tips will help you determine possible red flags along the way.  Again, build your relationships with fellow teachers slowly, no life dump during an introductory conversation.  If you notice the colleague is a habitual gossip, but also hysterical and smart.  Proceed with caution.  Enjoy the jokes, but keep the relationship professional until you can be sure she/he has your back.  Avoid gossip at all cost, and in particular comments to colleagues about the principal.  The first few years of teaching are intense  emotionally and physically; you are vulnerable and often fragile.  Choosing the right colleague with whom to confide is part of the cautionary zone.  Better to confide with a best friend outside of your work during the first few months on the job.  Eventually, just one trusting colleague will make your journey easier.  Pick that person with care.

Each year the politic game gets easier.  You will know all the MOVES!  

Last but NOT Least!!!!  A new video! Be sure to watch and then join the linky. 

1 comment:

  1. Sheila, I am almost speechless. I say ALMOST speechless, because I am never truly speechless! Ha! I am too much of a talker for that! Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for being so incredibly sweet. I am so happy to hear that you have been able to use my products in your classroom and that your kiddos have had so much success with them. I am honestly so blown away by your kind words, and I am so appreciative of everything you said. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! :)


Sheila Chako
Sprinkle Teaching Magic