Educator to Educator

Having supportive relationships with colleagues is vital to the success of any educator, including paras, counselors and other staff – from veterans to those just entering the field. A healthy school climate also relies on strong staff relationships. The disconnect caused by the pandemic provides educational leaders a unique opportunity to rebuild systems and supports that allow educators to engage with, learn from, and support each other as well as address conflicts in an open and respectful manner. Approaching the new year with a renewed sense of “we’re stronger together” will help set the tone for the entire school community while providing a strong foundation for navigating the challenges of post-pandemic education.

Guiding Questions

  • What strategies can we use to create and nurture a staff culture of mutual respect, inclusion and openness?
  • How do we support educators in forming and maintaining healthy relationships with each other that honor individual differences and perspectives?
Examples, Tools and Strategies
Strategies Aligned Resources

Conduct staff Community Circles

Community Circles benefit educators and staff in their own community as much as they do students. By incorporating this strategy into your staff and department meetings you provide people with the time to connect, share challenges and successes, get and give feedback, and resolve internal conflicts. This open forum allows educators to learn from each other, challenge their assumptions, and be seen in a personal and professional light in a safe space. It also allows principals and school leadership to better assess the needs of staff and keep a pulse on the issues happening in school. Community Circles can also be used at the district level as a tool to improve communication and foster relationships.

While rooted in restorative practice for students, utilizing Community Circles with staff is a powerful tool for not only building relationships and working through issues, but for promoting self-care and staff wellness. For great insights into the benefits of using Healing Circles with staff, read and share this post from Mindful Schools+ Add to Action Plan.

Watch the five-minute Weekly Circles video+ Add to Action Plan to help you create an effective practice for your teaching staff.

Expect the best of staff 

Setting the tone for staff interactions and relationships starts with expecting the best of staff and letting them know it. Creating a welcoming environment and being clear about the importance of the team and each of its members will help get buy-in. By establishing the expectation for professional, mutually respectful relationships with colleagues and modeling that for staff you can pave the way for a successful year.

Read and share Maintaining Professional Relationships with Colleagues+ Add to Action Plan from Sanford Inspire. It provides concrete actions to take to maintain professional relationships with colleagues in a school setting. The article also shares four guiding principles for maintaining positive relationships.

  • Operate with an assets-based perspective.
  • Engage in reflexivity.
  • Build rapport.
  • Maintain professional boundaries.

Collaborate and learn together 

Providing educators and staff ways to collaborate and learn together on an ongoing basis can help them build and maintain healthy relationships. Strategies like team planning and reflection time, mentoring, trans-disciplinary teaching and Professional Learning Communities can help staff connect and grow.

Creating Professional Learning Communities as part of your Professional Development Plan offers an excellent way to build and improve relationships between teachers while deepening their knowledge and expanding their skill sets.

Read this article from LaRena Heath+ Add to Action Plan for four concrete suggestions to help educators get the most out of professional learning communities.