By Matthew Olinski — As we are entering the holiday season, I challenge people to reflect on themselves as professionals. After all, we have a major impact on everyone in our building in ways we sometimes don’t think about.
I call this the “Golden Rule of Co- Workers”. It’s fairly simple; I try to be the type of co-worker that I would want to work with.
The way we run our classrooms affects the students in them. They leave class and move on to the next (at least at the secondary level where they move from class to class) with whatever attitudes or excitement level they may have left ours with. Now, there are obviously outside factors at play at times, but we must do our best.
For instance, I don’t perceive myself as an outstanding lecturer. If I stood in front of the classroom and lectured for an hour, the students would be dragging themselves out of my room and into the next classroom, maybe still have asleep. So, I try to incorporate different elements of my classroom to keep student interest high. My hope is that I can have students be excited to go to their next class, and be excited to return to mine the following day.
Would I want a teacher across the hallway to hear me talking all day? Probably not, so I choose to close my door as to not distract her class. For me, this professional respect is an important part of what I do. I’ll admit, there are times when I struggle. For instance, when the students leave my classroom to go to the computer lab en masse, it can be difficult to prevent them from making noise. So, for this my fellow teachers, I apologize! I try my best to be a good co-worker who is conscientious of how my attitude and behavior affects the other people around me.
I would expand this to include the supervisors. What kind of boss would you want to work for? Are you that boss? Is there a true aura of trust in your building? Do teachers feel comfortable approaching you with issues, or are they now the target of misguided hostility?
The fact is, if you have to resort to the line “I’m the boss” in a conversation with an employee, you have probably already lost the real authority that goes with your title. This is actually an important fact for teachers to remember as well. Do you talk to staff members with a sense of fairness, or are certain staff members given preferential treatment? How about your students?
I bring these points to attention because there seems to be a great many people in this world who do not introspectively reflect on their behavior. And these individuals exist well beyond the field of education. But, as educators, it’s my belief that we should set the example for the future generation. Remember to try to be the co-worker you would like to work with, or the administrator you would like to work under. It enhances the atmosphere in the workplace significantly.