How Well Do You Know Other Teaching Staff at Your School?

In theory, teaching is all about meeting new people. Teachers work with students and their parents throughout the year. Nonetheless, the job can feel a bit lonely at times.

The reason for this is simple: most of us don’t get to know the other teachers very well. And we eventually end up treating our classrooms as bunkers, or areas of work that we only leave when we have to.
Fortunately, you can break this cycle and get to know your colleagues. Here’s our comprehensive guide for getting to know your fellow teachers!
What is it that keeps teachers from interacting with administration and fellow teaching staff? In a word: fear.
Many teachers feel (rightly or wrongly) that they compete with one another. This means they’re driven by a fear of being outclassed by their colleagues. Accordingly, they worry that a stray conversation may let some of their teaching secrets loose and cause them to fall down the social ladder.
Teachers also fear recrimination from others. It is very human for work colleagues to blow off steam by complaining about the challenges they face. However, if another work colleague overhears the conversation, it could potentially lead to disciplinary action.
The key to your staff getting to know one another is to make sure they know how much your institution values honesty and open communication.
Regular Surveys
One “safe” way of communicating with employees is through the use of surveys. These surveys can be completed anonymously, and it’s easy to send them to the entire teaching staff with a simple e-mail.
The anonymous nature of such surveys helps encourage honesty. When teachers feel they have nothing to lose with their answers, they are likely to be very open with their responses.
Regular surveys also give everyone a chance to step back and think about existing school policy and proposed policy changes. Because teachers are on the “front lines” of those policies, it is crucial to get their honest input about everything before making any significant changes.
Open Forums
As we said, surveys are useful because they can be anonymous. However, it is equally important to hold open forums in the form of teacher conferences.
These conferences serve many purposes. On a social level, they allow teachers to get to know one another outside the context of their own classrooms.
Conferences also let teachers stand up and speak their mind on a variety of issues. This enables staff to gauge which teachers have leadership potential while also encouraging honest communication.
And “honesty” is critical here. Teachers must know they won’t be punished for speaking honestly to their peers. With regular conferences (say, one every month or two), teachers will become comfortable speaking both to the administrative staff and fellow teachers.
Get Everyone Involved
Of course, many schools hold regular staff conferences. However, many of those schools make a rookie mistake that hampers honest communication. And that mistake is treating the conference/meeting as a “sit and get” presentation.
Let’s be honest: if we gather all the teachers together to review policy, then this is a waste of time and resources. All of this information could be sent via e-mail, and this would have saved everyone a lot of time.
Instead, we should encourage everyone to get involved. These meetings should have updates and presentations from department heads, team leaders, and so on.
It’s not very subtle, but this reinforces that everyone is on the same team. And it underscores how regular communication helps every teacher accomplish more than they could on their own.
The Honesty/Empathy Mix
We’ve mentioned honest communication a few times. And it’s true that in a school, honesty is the foundation for everything you are building together.
But there is a thin line between “honesty” and “rudeness.” And a similarly thin line between “constructive criticism” and “general griping.”
To stay on the side of honesty, schools must encourage empathy in all communications. This means that each party makes an honest effort to see things from the other party’s point of view.
As a policy, this is easy to say and hard to do. However, it helps to showcase that everyone at the school has their vision for a brighter future. And only by communication can this brighter future become a reality.
Organising Functions
Sure, things like teacher conferences/meetings are essential. But any school that wants more staff communication needs to throw social functions from time to time.
This can include mixers at the beginning of the year and modest parties throughout each term. Regular get-togethers let everyone talk more openly (as a school) while also showing how much the senior team cares about the feels and experiences of its teachers.
How Well Do You Know Other Teaching Staff at Your School?

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