by Brooke Schulte Olivieri
Education has become increasingly more complex. As our profession continues to advance, more expertise is required. In order to make expected learning gains, teachers are expected to model supremely advanced skills in the areas of academic presentation, intervention, behavior management, organization, curriculum mapping, unit planning, team building, conflict resolution, and the incorporation of technology into all that we do. When working with at-risk students who have special and specific extra needs, the skill set required of teachers is even more specialized and distinctive. Evolved and reflective teachers recognize that their own strengths and talents must be complemented by the skill sets and talents of their colleagues in order to meet the myriad of their students’ needs.
Collaborating with Challenging People
Many would never imagine it but one of the most challenging aspects of teaching is not always the kids but the adults. Always remember your focus…student gains and achievement—not power plays or vendettas. Think ahead and anticipate challenging events before they occur. When someone acts over dramatic or defensive, never own their negative attitude or energy. Nobody can weaken you except yourself. No one can upset you unless you let them. Be kind but assertive. Make your points clearly and absent from drama. Even if someone else loses their cool or professionalism, keep yours. Always remain positive, calm and speak with integrity.
We no longer teach on our own solitary island, but in an interconnected network of ideas and talents. The more we connect and share, the more we are able to provide our students with the quality of education they rightfully deserve. So instead of running around holding your own burning torch, use it to light the unity candle with your teammates and be open to learning from each other. Herein lies your strength as a teacher—your ability to listen, observe, reflect and advance.
Our advice for the members of the network is…
- Speak with integrity. Clearly convey concerns to the point and without emotion or ill-will towards others.
- Show gratitude for those who help you. This will help to ensure they are willing to assist you the next time.
- Speak to others with respect and on your same level. Condoning messages impede collaboration because they are offensive and destroy trust.
- You may know how to “talk the talk” but also make sure that you “walk the walk.” If you say you’re going to do something…DO IT…promptly.
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