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Educator: Seven Tips on Building Positive Relationships

Educator: Seven Tips on Building Positive Relationsips

When it comes to building positive relationships in schools, there are plenty of tactics educators can take to improve their relationships with their colleagues.

So says Paul Barnwell, veteran teacher at Kentucky Public Schools who offers seven tips on building positive relationships in an article on EdWeek.org.

"Sometimes it feels like there’s too much on our plates as teachers to take a few moments to chat with a colleague in the copy room," he said. "Shirking email and other administrative duties in order to share lunch with co-workers? I wish! Helping a colleague with class coverage when there is so much to do? If only!"

According to Barnwell, the bottom line is that "sustainable, effective collaboration is unlikely to occur without strong personal connections between teachers, staff members, and administrators." The first tip he offers is to "give without strings attached."

"Earlier this year, a colleague of mine was fighting a nasty cold. Over the course of a couple weeks, she asked me twice to cover her fifth period class. Not a problem. I’m not holding this favor as currency, waiting for an opportunity for her to 'pay' me back," Barnell said. "In our personal and professional lives, dealing with people who always expect something in return isn’t a way to build sustainable or authentic relationships. That’s not to say that I won’t ever ask for favors in return; it’s just not at the forefront of my approach when helping others out."

His second tip was "talk, don't email."

"Writing an email instead of making a phone call or seeking a quick interaction in the hallway can seem like an easier form of workplace communication," Barnell said. "But remember: The more email you send, the more messages you must check and reply. The more time you spend in front of a screen, the less time you have to say hello, ask questions, and build relationships. As a general rule of thumb, I try to establish relationships in person, or at least over the phone, before I start sending emails or texts. If I have a question for a coworker, I usually take the time to call or make a visit in person. This significantly increases the chances for positive interactions with those colleagues in the future."

Read the full story and comment below. (Please note that some articles on Edweek.org may require a subscription.) 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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