Posted in Advice for rookies, Background, Office politics, Professionalism

Chapter 30: Professional Relationships

This is my boss. She and I get along well. Part of that has to do with her: She understands what I’m trying to do, honors most of my requests, and doesn’t lose her mind if we disagree occasionally. Part of it has to do with me: I understand what she’s trying to do, honor most of her requests, and don’t lose my mind if we disagree occasionally.

This balance is simple, but it requires some effort. Some people won’t talk to administrators unless they’re in trouble. That’s a recipe for disaster. I’m not saying y’all need to be BFFs, but if you chat with your building administrator regularly, you’ll understand each other better when conflicts arise.

I try to keep my boss in the loop. If we’re doing something unusual in class — say, playing a spirited round of Pronoun Twister or Vocabulary Jenga — I invite her to join the fun, which familiarizes her with my teaching style while giving the kids a chance to talk to her.

I share my students’ successes with her. If kids perform well, they deserve some praise from the brass. Meanwhile, because my superintendent is responsible for basically everything that happens around here, our successes are her successes — so it’s to her advantage to know about them.

I also share my failures with her. Don’t do this if your boss is a ruthless climber who is likely to throw you under the bus, but if you’re pretty confident s/he is trustworthy, it’s perfectly fine — advisable, even — to say, “This lesson fell flat” or “This class bombed a benchmark test, and I’m not sure why.” Your boss might see something you missed, and your humility and honesty can help build trust.

Perhaps most importantly, I never let titles get in the way of basic decency. No, you shouldn’t be friends with your boss. Even if you adore each other, s/he is still your boss, and getting too chummy invites trouble for both of you. But you can and should offer administrators the same courtesies you’d extend to any other colleague. For me, that means checking in with a “Hey, you OK?” if she seems tense; sending an encouraging text when she’s having a craptastic week; or being flexible about meeting times and such.

Positive relationships with supportive administrators are valuable. Work at them. They’re worth the effort.



Raised by hippies. Aging and proud of it.

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