By Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman
It's the beginning of another school year and time to steadily build positive relationships. Most of you are probably already doing that with your students. Well and good, but don't neglect the staff. Your relationship with other teachers, the secretary, custodians, cooks, administrators and other personnel could highly influence your degree of happiness at your workplace this school year. Chances are there are new teachers in your building this year. Some may be just starting their teaching career. Others might have transferred from another building. In addition, several friends have returned to the sameschool after three months away. How are you connecting with them? Are you doing it consciously, with plan and purpose?
Following are 15 Do's and Don'ts for building positive relationships with staff.
1.) Do share your appreciation. "Thank you for bringing in the muffins yesterday. I choseblueberry and it helped me start my day off right." "I appreciate the way the floors look. You and the other custodial staff must have worked long hours to get them shining like this."
2.) Do give "I noticed . . ." statements. "I noticed you like to wear red.” “I noticed you greet yourstudents at the door every day, every hour." The words out of your mouth are, "I noticed," but the real message is, "I see you."
3.) Do not isolate yourself. Eat in the teachers' room. Stick your head in other teachers'classrooms before or after school. Take part in the potluck lunch. Join the school bowling team.
4.) Do build relationship by walking around. Walk out on the playground. See who is on duty.Strike up a conversation. Walk around the bus arrival area, the lunchroom, the media center, and go to the office a couple of times a day.
5.) Do use mailbox surprises. Birthday cards, a timely quote, a recipe, an interesting article,and many other items can be used to build connections.
6.) Do not hoard. Yes, that is third-grade math material that you use every year. And if the second-grade teacher needs it for some fast-moving second-grade students, give it up. Sharethe supply of recycled paper you were gifted with. Made some cookies last night? Pass them around.
7.) Do ask to help. "Can I help?" is a useful question in the lunchroom, hall, playground, oranother teacher's classroom. Is someone having trouble lifting something, meeting a deadline, or collating papers? Volunteer to be a helper.
8.) Do ask for help. Speak up. There are others willing to help. Need an idea for language artsjournals today? Ask for one. Desire some encouraging words? Ask for them. Want a stapler that works? Ask.
9.) Do not gossip. Do not be a rumormonger. If you are gossiping about others with Mary, guess who Mary thinks you are talking about when she is not present?
10.) Do add a cartoon to the staff bulletin board. Everyone can use a slice of humor. Post it. And read things other people post. Make comments about them.
11.) Do ask for others' opinions. "I'm going to call Robert's parents tonight. What's the main pointyou think I ought to make?" "I'm thinking of getting a dog. Do you have a favorite breed?" Asking for another’s opinion tells that person you value their thoughts and ideas.
12.) Do show interest in the students you had last year. "How is Sabrina doing this year? Is she getting off to a good start?" "I wanted to check with you on Arturo. He really tested me last year. How is he responding for you?" "Mary Ellen really got on a roll near the end of last year. Is she keeping it going?"
13.) Do use people's names. The sweetest sound in any language is the sound of your own name. "Good morning, Raphael." "That was some basketball game last night, Eva. Don't you agree?"
14.) Do not use putdowns as humor. There is a hidden truth in every putdown intended to be funny. Stop trying to be cute and clever with thinly veiled sarcasm. It creates distance.
15.) Do use physical touch. A high five, pat on the back, shoulder squeeze, or handshake arephysical ways to touch that are quick and efficient. Perhaps there is even someone on your team that needs a hug today. If that person is you, ask for one.
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the coauthors of "The Teacher Talk Advantage: Five Voices of Effective Teaching." They are two ofthe world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for educators and another for parents. To sign up for the newsletters or learn more about the seminars they offer teachers and parents, visit their websites today: www.chickmoorman.com