What kind-of teaching teammate are you?

3:00 AM

Google "Teaching Team" and you come up with 353 MILLION results.  These range from blog posts, to pictures, advice (asking for and giving), motivational quotes, etc.

I am not an expert in this, and won't ever claim to be.  But, as someone who has worked on both well-oiled and functioning teams as well as toxic "get me the h*** out of here" teams, I do know a bit.  I haven't always practiced being a good teammate, but I have also left school in tears because of how my team functioned and the way I was treated.

I recently connected with another blogger, Foundations into First, who shared 10 Ways to Survive When Your Teaching Team Fails to Work Cooperatively and had some "Ah-ha" moments of my own as I was reading her post.  There was A LOT of discussion about this post in a FB group, and it was brought up, "This is such a big issue that nobody will talk about because they are too scared...it makes me so sad to think we would lose good teachers because of unsupportive environments."

As I enter a new school year come August, and a new team, I got to thinking about how can I be a good teammate?  What can I do to prevent toxicity from seeping into my team (grade level or even building-wide) this school year or really, ever?  Here's what I came up with:

1) Focus on your classroom and what you can do to be the best teacher you can be.

I know, this seems pretty straight forward, but often I think teachers find themselves thinking about other teachers and what they're doing "wrong" or being envious of them and the praise/recognition they are getting.  I do amazing work in my classroom; if that doesn't get noticed, so be it.  It has to be enough that I know what I am doing and can look at my students' data/growth to see their successes.  If another teacher doesn't teach something, skips over it, or makes my job harder, so be it.  I just need to move on.  This is easier said than done, but is nonetheless #1 on my list.

2) Continue trying.  Don't give up on them (or their students.)

I love the social media teaching community because of the ideas I get from other around the world; new ways of thinking or teaching a concept that I hadn't thought about before.  I have shared these ideas in the past and been looked at with blank stares.  I then chose not to share an idea (on a toxic team) and got called an "uncooperative teammate."  The latter was definitely worse because I had shared in the past and got shot down, so hence holing up and doing my own thing.  What I learned? Keep trying.  Blank stares or a reluctance to try new things is their problems, not yours.  But, doing things on your own is worse because then a hatred and resentment builds up against you, which is an icky-feeling.  If you're going to try something new in your classroom, share the idea and then let it be.  If they take it and roll with it-great!  If you get blank stares-that's okay.  If they take the idea, use it, it works great and they get recognition for it--that sucks!  :o)  Honestly, it will sting a bit, but just know you helped them be a better teacher and revert to #1.

3) Find the good around you.

If you've read any of my previous posts on CFTC or Draz's Class you know I don't mean this in the touchy-feely way.  Quite frankly, although I like the message, I am a bit over the "throw kindness like confetti" bandwagon that has flooded my SM feed.  However, I think there is something to be said about finding the good around you.  If something goes well, copies were made on time, someone worked extra hours on organizing the field trip, recognize that.  A simple "Thanks for..." can go a long way!  I intend to find these genuine moments and make sure I recognize them and the people who made them happen!

4) Let yourself off the hook--it's not your problem!

This one is taken directly from the previous mentioned blog, and like #1, is probably easier said than done!  I tend to let things get to me and try to fix them.  When I can't fix something, I get frustrated, which impacts my attitude and productivity.  Well, truth is, you can't fix people who are toxic or bringing a team/building down without fixing yourself first.  I am reminded of my waitressing days in a college bar where we would blare Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror."  I can change myself but I can't change other people.  I need to focus on me and my role, not others.

What would you add to this list of how to be a good teammate?  I know there is more, but I think I 'll stick with these 4 for now.

The discussion I had with other teachers also produced this statement, "The culture of the school starts at the principal, and if they allow it (toxicity) to continue, it becomes a plague."  I do think that the environment you work in and administration--the way they treat/respect the teachers and employees in the building--play a pivotal role.  I have never been an admin, and have no desire to be, so I am not sure how much they care or what they see when making teaching teams, moving teachers around buildings/grades, etc.  If you are an admin, would you share some insight?  What do you do with that one teacher who continues to be toxic and bring that with them wherever they go?

Thanks for stopping by!

by Sara from Draz's Class

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  1. Oh, yeah, being a teammate can be challenging. One of mine retired last year, and I hope we get someone that is easy to work with.

    1. It can be so hard to find the right person to "fit" in!


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