Sunday, December 13, 2015

Kim Frencken: Teaching should be a team effort

Do teachers support each other or are they in competition? Some districts foster an environment of support and encouragement, while others seem to thrive on fear. Let's face it, teachers need all of the support they can get. Teaching is a tough job on a good day. If you throw in jealous, competitive colleagues it can be downright miserable. Principals that have favorites and play teachers against one another are severely damaging to a school's environment. In fact, they are toxic. A school environment that does not treat each teacher as a valuable resource creates an atmosphere of mistrust and hostility. This type of environment drains teachers of energy and confidence. When one teacher or a team of teachers is shown special privileges, others start to feel resentment. Over time, the cohesiveness of a team disappears. Without teamwork, teachers become islands, and the system begins falling apart.

What about the teacher that steals everyone's ideas and claims them as her own? Or the one who "kisses up" to administrators? These type of non-team players erode down trust and contribute to a hostile work environment. Especially when their behavior is left unchecked.

Teachers need to support and encourage each other. We can't be all things for everyone all the time, but we can offer a listening ear, a kind smile, or a word of encouragement. Petty disagreements or jealousy are juvenile and detrimental to the work place. Who cares who has the best bulletin board or door design? Who will remember in 10 years which teacher received the most applause at an assembly? No one. The main thing to remember is that teachers all have the same goal (or they should) and they should all help each other reach it. Teaching should be a team effort.

(For more of Kim Frencken's writing, check out the Chocolate for the Teacher blog.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ms. Frencken - you are so right. I have incredible sympathy for teachers who must work in this type of environment. Particularly for teachers who are preparing our next generation of leaders. I wish it would change, but doubt very much that it will. My hope for the school district is that people continue to speak the truth and that we use our vote to elect solid board members who reject a superintendent's use of fear and intimidation to manage our schools. I can't express strongly enough how depressing and exhausting it is to work in such an environment. I worked for many years at a local university. Their management style became as Ms. Frencken described. Most of their faithful, hard working employees left. It was no longer an environment of working for the students and university but for your particular area or department and how you could make the other guy look bad. Those hired as spies and suck-ups for the administrators never did any work anyway and those who still believed in the university were gradually degraded and marginalized until there was no point in trying anymore and you either gave up or you left.