So you wanted to become a teacher to have a positive impact on students, right? I bet you didn’t anticipate your teaching job to come with all the typical office colleague problems, but surprise! It takes a lot more work to get along with your colleagues at your school or institute then you ever expected. So how do you build and maintain a good relationship with your fellow staff members? Here are a few tips to help make your life at school a whole lot easier:
1. Understand Cultural Differences. When you work as a language teacher, there’s a chance you are working with multicultural staff. If you are living in a foreign country teaching a language, then you may have a hard time coming to terms with some cultural norms of your host country. The best way to keep the peace in the office is to let go of your expectations, some of which may very well be cultural, and go with the flow. Also understand that every culture has a different way of interacting and communicating with others. Don’t apply your culturally-taught understanding to something said or done by a person of a different culture. It just won’t work. Try to learn as much as you can about the culture you’re working in; this is your best bet when trying to minimize misunderstandings.
2. Pick your battles. Some things are worth fighting for and some things just aren’t. The sooner you learn the difference between the two, the sooner you’ll find Nirvana. No, but seriously learn to pick your battles and don’t worry about the rest. It’s also a good idea to stop holding on to your “it should be like this” commentary; your way is not the only way, and chances are if you are the foreign teacher, then your opinion will probably be outnumbered, anyway.
3. Be nice. It may sound overly simple, but you’d be surprised at how many people just aren’t nice. The truth is, niceness has a domino effect. Be nice and others around you will start to be nice too. Being nice is more than just not being mean. It means doing small yet extra things for your colleagues like making photocopies for them or bringing in donuts every once in a while. Show your team that you know you are part of a team and people will reciprocate.
Some things are worth fighting for and some things just aren’t. The sooner you learn the difference between the two, the sooner you’ll find Nirvana.
4. Hear others. If you feel there is some tension in the office – directly related to you or not – then try to hear out your colleagues. Many times people feel unheard and thus the problems begin. In some cultures, expressing discontent may be difficult. Don’t push it, but do let people know you are available to listen and that you value what they have to say. Open communication is always a good thing.
5. Pull your weight. If you are having problems with your colleagues at your school or institution, it could be because you aren’t doing your job. The best way to maintain good relationships with the people you work with is by doing everything that’s expected of you and more if you can. Come on time; nobody likes the teacher that strolls in two minutes before the first student arrives. Plan for your lessons; surprisingly, other teachers may get irritated if they never see you planning or prepping for a lesson. They start to get suspicious as to whether or not you are in fact, teaching. Also, in every school there’s a shared workload. Don’t be that teacher who always ducks out in order to avoid making photocopies or preparing for a school-wide event. Pull your weight and put in the same amount or more effort as your colleagues.
These are a few tips to help you make you have a pleasant experience working at an institute or school. Half of the battle is bringing cheer to your office and the other half is conflict resolution. These tips can help you with both. Of course, there are many other things that you may need to do in order to make life with your colleagues as enjoyable as possible. If you have some additional tips for building relationships with your colleagues at a school or institute, then let us know!