One of the biggest gaps I see in the training of teachers is how to relate better to adults.
As teachers we spend our days learning how to best relate to children in a positive way, how to treat them with respect and engage with them in a safe and relevant way that helps them develop positive relationships and learn.
When it comes to dealing with adult relationships, whether it’s dealing with other staff members or feeling confident with parents, we tend to avoid the topic, assuming that all adults already know how to sort that out.
I remember as a young student in my first placement being so stressed about calling colleagues by their first name. Having come straight from school (where it was a sign of respect to call them Miss, Mrs or Mr) to an environment where it was all first names and an expectation that we were equals, often caused me more anxiety than anything else in my teaching practice.
When you add to that having to deal with any type of correction in how I was doing things, and then parents expecting me to know things I had sometimes never heard of, and wanting answers straight away, I was rather stressed out!
Becoming a more confident communicator with adults helps you become a better teacher.
We often talk about the self management skills children need to be ready to learn. But what are the self management skills teachers and support staff need when interacting with other adults?
There are plenty of them, but here are just three that, if missing, can cause plenty of disruption in your school and prevent your team form working well together.
Ask for clarification or help with a new task
We often get frustrated when we see someone not working to the same level of others. Sometimes we can feel they are lazy, or not totally involved in the job.
It maybe that they are unsure and do not know what to do, and lack the skills to say this. Sometimes this comes down to a lack of confidence, as asking for help may make them feel as if you may see them as not able to do the job.
Asking for help when you need it stops the problem becoming bigger than it is. Just ask!
Take issues up with the issuer
Many problems in a school happen when someone feels they have been talked to inappropriately or treated unfairly compared to their peers, or when a parent has talked to you in an argumentative manner.
Whether it was fair or not, or whether the person who has hurt their feelings did so in a professional manner isn’t as big a problem as what can happen if it’s not cleared up directly.
It can feel scary to communicate directly with another person but if we don’t we never sort the issue out.
Many people will leave their place of work and find another job before trying to communicate, and then what happens is the cycle tends to be repeated as the matter is never resolved.
A lot of damage can be done as you involve people who were previously completely unconnected to the issue, if it’s not dealt with quickly.
Keeping home problems separate from work problems
To a certain extent most of us have been guilty of bringing feelings, issues and hurts from our home life into our workplace, allowing them to impact our interactions.
While we can often separate it professionally from our interactions with children, we do not generalise this out to relating to other adults. Colleagues can often come under the firing line, or we over react when pulled up for not working to our usual standard, which can snowball into a greater issue.
Making a conscious effort to let go of everything that has happened before you walk in the doors at work can prevent the rest of the day snowballing into one day of complete disaster.
It’s a good idea to do the reverse at home too. Our families deserve the best of us, rather than a daily off load of issues.
It’s not our job to solve all the problems we come up against, but we can help the members of our staff be equipped with skills to manage their behaviour no matter what the circumstances. A highly functioning team that relates well together is one that will provide a better environment for the children in their classrooms.