The trick to enjoying your role as a teacher may just lie in your ability to form strong bonds with your colleagues. After all, it is your co-workers who understand the demands of your job better than anyone else – and it’s these same people who will be around well after the pupils have moved on. If you’re currently teaching in the UK, you should consciously strive towards having a positive relationship with your colleagues. Here are eight ways that you can accomplish this in the upcoming school year.
1. Use the teachers’ lounge
The teachers’ lounge (or the equivalent shared space) is usually the only area where teachers can enjoy each other’s company away from the classroom during the school day. It’s a place where you can share a cup of coffee together, engage in small talk or generally just relax together before the bell rings. If you dodge the lounge, you could very well find that you never really get to know your colleagues beyond passing them in the hall.
2. Attend social gatherings
Your idea of a good time might not be hanging out with your fellow teachers after hours. But that doesn’t mean that it’s right to skip social gatherings. While you don’t have to suggest such activities, it could send the wrong message if you turn down invites for something like drinks in the evenings. Just try to attend as many things as you can and you should feel closer to your co-workers in the long run.
3. Communicate during the holidays
The teaching profession is unique in the sense that it gives staff multiple holidays throughout the year, including the mammoth summer break. Due to this, it can be easy to go long periods of time without talking to your colleagues – and this can leave relationships strained. You can avoid this happening by making an effort to communicate to your fellow teachers during the holidays, maybe with text messages or by meeting up with them.
The school day can offer many chances to volunteer. For instance, staff might be needed to supervise a school disco, attend a school trip or act as a break time attendant. Of course, these jobs might not be at the top of your to-do list when you’re juggling things like making teaching plans or marking homework. However, if you shy away from volunteering it could look like you’re unwilling to pull your weight when it comes to mutual responsibilities. In turn, this could lead to others looking at you negatively and becoming hesitant to build a bond with you.
5. Talk in person
In this day and age, it’s all too tempting to correspond via email or text. However, even in the digital age, it’s still human interaction that helps people become acquainted with each other and start to feel comfortable sharing their company. Therefore you should aim to talk in person where possible. If anything, this should mean that you’re more capable of demonstrating a warm tone, as well as reducing the risk of your words being misinterpreted.
6. Broaden your conversation
Don’t think that you have to spill your deepest, darkest secrets to your colleagues just because you begin talking to them about your personal life. Instead, you just need to know that it’s fine to move the conversation away from school life and work. You may think that pupils, exams and homework are the only things that you have in common with your fellow teachers, but if you scratch beneath the surface you may find that you actually have mutual interests beyond the classroom.
7. Keep your door open
A closed door sends the message that you want to shut yourself off from others. Meanwhile, an open door tells people that they’re welcome to enter. In terms of school, this can mean that your fellow teachers – as well as your pupils – feel that they can approach you at any time. Keeping your door open should result in your colleagues learning that you’re always happy to speak to them.
8. Offer help and ask for it back
Teachers may rule the roost in their own classroom, but they are part of a larger team in the grand scheme of the school. This is why you shouldn’t be afraid to offer help to your colleagues. Likewise, you should show that you appreciate their opinions by asking for help back. Ultimately, once you’ve created a firm support network, you and your fellow teachers should start to feel that you can trust and rely on each other at any time.
The ability to craft strong relationships with your co-workers is often an unsung benefit of being a teacher. To establish a great bond with your colleagues, just follow these top tips and you should find that work is a much more productive and pleasant place to be.