- Build better colleague relationships by being a good listener, showing appreciation, sharing with others, apologizing, finding a connection outside of work, and expanding your network outside of your district.
- Remember that relationships are not a competition. Strive for quality over quantity.
- Relationships take work, but with these simple steps, you’ll build a strong network of connections in no time.
What qualities do you look for when searching for a soul mate? Someone who will lift you up but bring you back down to reality? Someone to confide in when something does not work out the way you planned, but will celebrate your biggest successes? Sure, we probably want these qualities when looking for love, but when you think about it, shouldn’t we be looking for the same qualities when building relationships with our colleagues and establishing our Professional Learning Network (PLN)?
While you may not be able to choose your colleagues, you can choose the relationship that you establish with them. Here are several steps you can take to build a strong network of support both inside and outside of your school.
Build Better Colleague Relationships: Be a Good Listener
Teaching is a tough profession and often comes with a lot of emotions. Help validate your colleagues’ feelings when they need to talk about a challenging day they had or feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes your colleagues just want someone they can talk to openly and without judgment. Be that someone.This probably goes without saying, but do not forget to be yourself. It might be daunting to put yourself out there, both in-person and online, but you will never know if you do not try. Click To Tweet
Build Better Colleague Relationships: Show Simple Acts of Appreciation
Something as simple as stopping into your colleague’s room during your planning period to ask if they need anything printed on the copier may mean more to them than you know. Bringing your grade level team a treat from the staff lounge is sure to give you brownie points (literally). Personally, I love giving (and receiving) a simple thank you note that lets someone know that you see the work they are doing and you appreciate the passion they pour into their teaching.
Build Better Colleague Relationships: Share, Share, Share!
I’m sure you have heard the phrase “sharing is caring,” but it really is true. When you find an amazing resource or a practice that has truly transformed the way you run your classroom, share it with your colleagues. After all, if the resource you found is going to help students succeed in your colleague’s classroom, why would you want to keep it all to yourself?
This also holds true for sharing online. I love sharing a helpful lesson with my PLN on social media if it’s going to help someone in their classroom, too. Not to mention how amazing it feels to see other people using something you shared with them in their own classroom!
Build Better Colleague Relationships: Apologize Often
No one is perfect and when you spend roughly eight hours a day with someone, you will probably butt heads occasionally. It might be difficult to swallow your pride, but if you realize that you were in the wrong, apologize. Relationships with colleagues are too great to sever over a small disagreement.
Build Better Colleague Relationships: Find a Connection Outside of Work
It is easy to talk about work with your colleagues. After all, that is how your relationship began. But you are not just an educator, so find out what else you have in common with your colleagues outside of work. Maybe you both love running, so you can go on a run before school starts. Or maybe you both love tacos and can meet up for Taco Tuesdays at a nearby restaurant. Whatever your connection, make sure you take the time to remember that you are not just a teacher and can embrace your other passions outside of work.
Build Better Colleague Relationships: Expand Your Network Outside of Your District
Don’t get me wrong, your colleagues are fantastic support systems, but sometimes you need connections outside of your own district. We no longer have to live on educator islands. Establishing a strong PLN is the key to expanding your relationships and becoming a better educator. Your Teach Better Family is a fantastic way to start building your PLN on social media platforms. Some of my biggest educator support systems are people I have never met in person but are friends with on social media. If we have learned anything from remote learning, you can make strong connections in an online environment and your PLN is no exception.[scroll down to keep reading]
A Final Thought
This probably goes without saying, but do not forget to be yourself. It might be daunting to put yourself out there, both in-person and online, but you will never know if you do not try. And remember, relationships are not a competition. Strive for quality over quantity. As mentioned earlier, teaching is a tough profession, and you should never feel alone. Relationships take work, but with these simple steps, you’ll build a strong network of connections in no time.
If you want to build better relationships with your colleagues, be intentional. Don’t hope things get better. Don’t rely on chance. Take specific steps to strengthen your relationships. Listen to your colleagues and get to know them. Make the effort to let them know that you know them. These can be done in person or virtually, with big gestures or simple actions. The next time you are in a Zoom meeting with a colleague, find a virtual background that relates to one of their interests and use it for your background to simply ask them how they are doing. Really listen when they seem like they are struggling. Be present. Be intentional! — Raymond Porten, Principal (@raymondporten)
About Chelsea Nicolino
Chelsea Nicolino is an eighth grade integrated science teacher in Akron, Ohio. She has a passion for embedding mastery learning and STEM education into her classroom. Chelsea also enjoys creating engaging inquiry-based lessons for her students to foster their love of science. In her free time, Chelsea loves connecting with other educators on social media, listening to podcasts, reading a good book, and spending time with her husband and two young children.