Friday, March 28, 2014

Year 4: Week 27 – Politics

Lately when I’m talking about politics, I’m not talking about the government.  I’m talking about the way the teachers manage relationships and compromise to achieve individual goals.

A lot of teachers complain about these politics and wish that the politics of a school didn’t interfere with what happened in the classroom. While I understand that some teachers are more and less comfortable with this part of the job, it is something that we all have to deal with and learn to manage.

It seems logical that if you have something that you need for your classroom, you ask someone and you should get it. The reality is that the success of getting what you need for your students relies on whom you ask, at what time and the way you advocate for your students.

It’s not an outright devious exchange. When someone does something for you in a school, it’s not because you did them a favor and now they owe you. It’s not like that, but there is a relationship to consider. If the only time that you talk to your principal is when you want something, that professional relationship can become strained.

A school is like any other work place. There are people who make things happen. Sometimes these people have titles, but often times they don’t.  It’s important to figure this out so that you can understand how things work.

There’s also the lingo. Every school has a dialect and a way of discussing things.  Certain themes and ideas permeate a school and when a person weaves them into a conversation, it can really help thing moves along.

The reason why I’m beginning to really enjoy the politics of my school is because it is based on relationships. People work together and for each other because they have to, but when there is a solid relationship, the work is full of joy. 

The frustration, which I felt in my previous teaching jobs, was not knowing the political landscape and being an outsider. It’s tough in those situations when people don’t let you in. Trying to navigate the politics of a school without a good mentor is very difficult. A teacher who is a master in a classroom who can’t figure out how a school works faces real issues that may threaten their longevity at a school.

Take the time to get to know the people in your school, from the janitors to the principals. Volunteer for committees, get out of your office and try to figure out how things really work. No, you don’t need to be a master politician to be a good teacher but teachers need to have a sense of who is in power beyond the titles.

Sometimes politics is overwhelming and often times its aggravating.  However it doesn't have to be this way.  If you build relationships throughout the school you will not only enjoy being a work more but it will also transform the politics of your school into something that helps more than it hinders.

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