How do we nurture positive relationships amongst our colleagues?

“We come to work for our students but isn’t it nice when we get along with the adults? (Heart and Art Book of Teaching and Learning, pg. 12)

As teachers, we are so careful to nurture positive learning environments for our students to learn and thrive in. We are mindful of the social, emotional, physical and mental well-being of our students and work diligently to ensure that they are safe and secure in our care. Our families are grateful for the love in which we care for our learners and they are resolved in knowing that the adults in the building are committed to their personal well-being of their children. How then, do we nurture this same kind of environment for ourselves and our colleagues? After many years of working with many different educators, I’ve come to realize that adults are super comfortable addressing the needs of students but act in ways that are incongruent with how we take care of ourselves. Collectively, we are intentional about teaching students to be respectful and cooperative, but how might we nurture these great habits amongst ourselves? The following, though not an exhaustive list, are some things we can try tomorrow to foster healthy working relationships amongst our colleagues:

  • Send a thank you note or email to express gratitude.
  • Visit the staffroom for lunch at least once a week. Sharing a meal lends itself to conversation that allows you to get to know those you work with and appreciate the diversity they bring.
  • Start a wellness club that encourages physical, social and mental well-being through physical activity and healthy eating.
  • Escape your “divisional cubical” and reach out to those you may not have the opportunity to work with. We have more in common than we think.
  • Start-up a book club. My favourite thing about reading a good book is talking about it. Why not explore a text together and see how much that ignites collegiality amongst the staff.
  • Say “please” and “thank you”. Manners just makes the world a better place.
  • Presume positive intentions but also be honest when an offence has occurred. Talking it out with the presumed offender will invite a learning opportunity, as opposed to engendering future conflict and harbouring resentment.
  • Smile wide and laugh loud. The radiance of a smile and the joy of laughter always makes for a welcoming.

As the adults in the building, we really need to take care of each other. We are growing the adults of the future and the model we set is read more nuanced than the one we say we expect. Let our actions speak volumes in our commitment to serving our learners. Let us serve the community. Let us serve each other.

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Updated: April 27, 2016 — 1:17 pm

The Author

Tisha Nelson

Tisha has taught in five schools in the Greater Toronto Area over the past seven years. She has experience as both an Occasional and Contract teacher teaching in Primary, Junior and Intermediate grades. Tisha is a workshop presenter and blogger for The Heart and Art of Teaching and Learning. She also is an AQ instructor and an author of the book Rights and Equality published by Rubicon Publishing (The Sankofa Series). Tisha’s passion for teaching and learning can be summed up in her six-word philosophy of education, “Love and ingenuity commands sustainable transformation.”

1 Comment

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  1. Ray says:

    Thanks for the encouraging post Tisha. As with many other occupations, teaching is a very challenging and sometimes exhausting career. I think you are so right that we need to contribute to each others well-being by making investments in people.

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