School relationships - staff, student and parent - that's the focus of this month's newsletter.
Now that Halloween is over - yeah! Take a deep breath, sit down and relax, but, not for too long. You know what's coming up next - report cards!!! Remember to check out my website for priceless teaching strategies on writing report cards and useful comments for your report card template.
Speak up when you're angry, but be careful how you speak. Speak calmly, clarify your position, talk in specifics, reveal a sense of responsibility towards others and finally if youa re still upset while talking, stop, and let people know you need more time to think things through.
There are always committees that you have to sign up for and at times there can be a source of friction among the different committee members. This could be resolved by suggesting to the committee to conduct a self-evaluation and/or merge with a similiar committee. That would make it more productive and create less friction.
Are there some staff members in your school that like to hoard or protect materials and equipment? You need to adopt a firm policy on borrowing. Keep a record of objects borrowed, date and staff member who borrowed it. Everyone has to be accountable. The kids are the ones who lose out.
Unless your ideas help solve problems, "No comment". However, if you disagree, make your points quickly and be constructive. Remember it takes all of us working together to get the work of the school accomplished.
Have you ever been angry or upset with a staff member? We all have. Remember:
1. You tell him/her yourself (not word of mouth).
2. Discuss the problem with the staff member at the end of the day.
3. You want a positive result as you both have to face it together.
When delivering bad news, it's how you say it and what you say that are important. Keep in mind that this is the time when your help is most needed. When colleagues say " I don't care what they do (sour grapes)", don't be misled because they do care! Let them know you do care. Offer a positive suggestion and don't accept or agree with their apathy as that will confirm that no one cares.
You may also have staff that displace blame - it's someone else's fault. Be careful, if you support this particular staff member, others will think you are against them. In a caring way, let this particular staff member know that you hold he/she accountable - even if you have to smile or use humor.
As you can see, there are lots of politics when dealing with teachers or any professional. Sometimes, you feel you are walking on egg shells or have to treat some people with kid gloves. Be honest, tactful and caring.
To create a spirit of co-operation in my class, I always had a monitor board with various jobs to be done throughout the week; eg., gym, blackboard, book shelves, art, boots (winter time), etc., and of course T.A. (Teacher's Assistant). I either created a creature or an artistic friend each year; e.g., octupus.
Students volunteered for the various jobs on a Monday morning. Their name was pinned beside their job which they were responsible for the week - some jobs had 2 helpers (gym, blackboard)> I made sure everyone was involved and by the end of the year, everyone had done at least one job. The T.A. was chosen by the previous week's T.A.
Have a look at the page on my special talk and student of the week activity - a great team building activity.
A lot of inexperienced/new teachers make the mistake of becoming too chummy with their students. I continually remind my student teachers - "They're not your friends." It's imperative that you set clear boundaries and that your students abide by them. You want their respect and that's earned, not demanded or a given. Be firm, make sure that they don't cross the line and be genuinely caring. You want to build understanding, trust and rapport.
Anxiety may result from letting someone down, failure or looking foolish. Remember, anxiety is fear and it can alter your relationships with your students. So, student anxieties need to be resolved or there will be problems. You may alos have certain anxieties that you need to get rid of. Remember if they are your anxieties, don't impose them on your students.
Right from the beginning of the year, you must instill the importance you place on homework you give to your students. However, if you are rigid on deadlines for assignments, you must also follow suit and return them ASAP. If you delay too long, there could be a deterioration in the relationships you have with your students. Don't assign homework because of discipline or busywork> If work is worth doing by students, it's worth grading by you as quickly as possible.
Your kids can handle the truth - Don't say "the office won't let us" or "maybe" when you are the only one that doesn't want to do it. It's the disrespect and deception in partial truths and lies that could create a credibility gap which is an extremely hard obstacle to overcome.
Do you have students who have finished their assignment and others who haven't even written the date?
If that does happen, mark their work first and have them correct any mistakes. Then allow them to help others who need assistance. This build relationships and encourages sharing in the classroom. It's a great peer activity and a win-win situation.
This is a partnership which must be established at the beginning of the year. "Meet the Teacher" or "Curriculum Night" is a good place to start.
Your attitude and approach are crucial with dealing with parents whose child is having a problem. Even though we feel that we are the "boss" in the classroom, don't forget that as professionals, we need to realize that parents have knowledge, skill and responsibility for their child and their problem. They know what works and doesn't work at home.
Just keep in mind, you and the parents must assist each other to solve the problem and continue to have good teacher - parent relationships after that particular problem is resolved. Be tactful and never alienate the parent(s) on purpose.
There are various ways to keep in contact with parents - personal contact (conference/interview), write notes in agenda/planner, phone call, email (the school email not your personal one), class newsletters, class blog or website,etc.
Remember a few tips to keep in mind when you have helped parents with their child or given some advice:
1. Recognize their efforts.
2. Focus on the value of the job they have done - they need incentives and need to know what they have done is working.
3. See if more help is needed. Resolving one problem can create new or different ones. If you don't follow up, parents may think you're not interested in the results of your suggestions.
You both have the same goal in mind - you both want the child to succeed, do their very best and enjoy school - in your classroom until the end of the year.
Continually look for opportunities to make people feel important. To get more strategies/suggestions on parent relationships please check out my pages about dealing with difficult parents and Teacher Parent Communication.
There is a lot to digest as you read through these pages on the various relationships - staff, student and parent. Don't waste time learning "the tricks of the trade". Instead learn the trade - dealing with people.
Take what works for you and try them out. Never underestimate the power of words to heal and reconcile relationships.
I know the month of November is a busy month with report cards and parent conferences/interviews. Good luck with them. Remeber to check out my pages on this topic.
Coming up in the next few months in my newsletters, I will be writing about "handling an ugly behaviour professionally", "knowing how to complement", and "motivation".
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