Communication between teachers and administration is vital. Being able to communicate respectfully AND get things accomplished (on both sides of the aisle) can be a tricky task. Keep communication with your administrator professional and effective using these six tips:
Try to avoid contacting your administrator for every little problem. They are not your personal problem-solver. Prioritize your issues. My rule-of-thumb when deciding if I should contact my administrator: if something affects my ability to teach my students or to provide a safe environment for my students and myself. You are more likely to be taken seriously if you only go to your administrator when you are truly in need.
Be Specific, Polite, and Succinct
If you must address a concern with an administrator, keep a few things in mind so you don’t waste anyone’s time: address a single problem specifically, use respectful language, and get to your point quickly. When writing to someone about a problem, I use a paragraph model I learned from my local NEA union representative: 1) what the current situation looks like, 2) why it’s a problem, 3) what the situation SHOULD look like. Don’t try to propose a solution. Instead, offer to meet in person to help solve the problem. Always keep documentation of your communications.
Stay Focused On The Goal
Getting caught up in petty, nasty, behind-your-back talk can be devastating to your reputation. Complaining will only hurt you, and your chances of getting your problem solved. Keep your end goal in mind at all times and do what you can to help achieve it.
Don’t Forget To Listen
When your administrator responds to you, make sure you listen. Take notes if you must. If the response is in writing, read it, and reread it to make sure you understand what is being communicated. If you have questions, ask! You don’t want to miss any vital information.
Keep In Mind Why You Are There
If you don’t get the results you were hoping for, remind yourself why you’re a teacher in the first place. We teach because we love the students. Love the students, and continue to press on.
Join Your Local Education Association
Your local NEA chapter can help you in many ways, and communicating an issue with administration is one of their many specialties. Take advantage of the assistance and advice your local representative can provide by joining your National Education Association. My local has helped me become more knowledgeable and confident.