Historically, building relationships has been a hot topic within education. We now understand that students learn best when relationships between teachers and students have been developed together. We have also learned that not only do students thrive in an environment where relationships have been established but that teachers also thrive when relationships have been established among co-workers. Let’s discuss 5 tips for building relationships with our co-workers we can easily incorporate daily.
If you have worked or experienced working in a contentious environment where co-worker relationships are not valued, our commitment to doing our best to educate and grow students academically may quickly diminish to survival mode or even a consideration for a new career.
While building relationships among co-workers may come easy to some, others may have to work hard to create opportunities for relationships to grow. Please understand that I am not being unrealistic in thinking that everyone will be interested or even willing to create a collegial co-worker relationship, but my hope is that we can work together to create school environments where everyone feels valued, cared for, and part of a work family.
The 5 tips I am offering come from personal experiences within my 14 years in education both as a teacher and a school administrator. Having experienced work environments that valued and devalued collegial relationships, I have learned a few takeaways along the way.
1. Learn Your Co-Workers’ Names
It has been said that people’s names are the sweetest melody they can hear.
As simple as this sounds, depending on the size of your school, you may not interact or meet everyone that works within your school building.
In my experience, there have been times when I had to stop and introduce myself to someone or simply apologize for not remembering their name.
Not knowing someone’s name makes it seem as if he or she is not important to us. With this, remembering a co-worker’s name is an easy opportunity to form a connection. Plus, knowing our co-worker’s name goes a long way in building relationships that may last throughout our careers.
2. Make Eye-Contact and Greet Your Colleagues
Have you experienced walking in the hallway preoccupied by something or your head is down looking at your phone and someone speaks to you? Without even realizing, you may say hello but never look up or stop what you’re doing to make eye contact and greet the person back.
Making eye-contact when speaking to another person makes them feel respected and acknowledged. Think about trying to engage a student in your classroom. This student never looks up.
They stay focused on what they are doing and never acknowledge that you are talking to them. You as their teacher may feel disrespected and even say, “Look at me when I am talking to you!” One way to quickly build a relationship with our co-workers is to make eye contact and greet each other daily. Just this simple tip goes a long way in building relationships.
3. Take Time to Talk about Interests Outside of School
Talking to our co-workers about things that interest them outside of school shows that they are valued as a person, beyond what they contribute to school each day.
Personally, I take pride in knowing about my co-workers! It makes them feel cared for when I ask about their children, family, or a special event that is taking place in their life. While it is important to be respectful of your coworkers’ privacy, learning about other things outside of school that are important to them can go a long way with building relationships.
4. Offer a Helping Hand
In the world of teaching and learning, there are so many things we must juggle all at one time. If you are able, offering a helping hand to your co-worker will go a long way.
This can be as simple as…
- holding the door when entering or exiting.
- opening their classroom door when you see they have an arm full of paperwork.
- making a copy for someone while you’re on your way to the copier.
- offering to help with a student during a frustrating time.
We teach our students to be helpers one to another; how much more of an impact would this make if we modeled those same expectations?
For more ideas, click below to download our FREE 21 Holiday Presents to Make a Co-Worker’s Day a Little Brighter PDF.
5. Acknowledge and Show Appreciation
Growing up, my aunt had a saying, “It’s just nice to be nice!”
As educators, we keep pushing and going through to make sure we meet the obligations of the day, that we often forget to acknowledge and show appreciation to our co-workers. Just think, if we didn’t have each other, the daily operations would be extremely hard to accomplish.
There have been times when I would come into my classroom or office and someone would leave a note or a small gift to simply say thank you or to acknowledge something that I unknowingly had done. That small act of kindness changed the outlook of my whole day.
We understand that acknowledging and showing appreciation to our students improves their self-esteem and builds a better school climate and culture. With this, acknowledging and showing appreciation for our co-workers will go a long way in building relationships too!
Building relationships can be hard work! Believe it or not, we spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our families during the school year! So, whenever you think about your school and the colleagues you work with each day, always remember, am I treating my work family the way I would want to be treated? Am I taking ownership of the actions and interactions I make? If not, I challenge you to use my 5 tips throughout your day and week to build stronger and more positive relationships with our co-workers!
Author of Blog
Hello. My name is Dr. Tia S. Wood. I am a wife, mother and step-mother to 5 children and three 4-legged friends. I have earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from Cabrini College, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Cheyney University, a Master of Education in Special Education from Saint Joseph’s University and most recently earned my Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Cabrini University. Teaching and learning will always be my lifelong work. My heart’s desire is to make such an impact, that I inspire, influence, and impact aspiring teachers, school leaders, and students to continue in one of the greatest professions in the world.