Teachers fundamentally have a requirement to do what is best for their students.
Whether you agree with it or not, this includes having critical conversations with your colleagues. These conversations are not easy to have, or else they would be called chit chats. But when your students' instruction is impacted, whether you are concerned with a support teacher's punctuality, or you question a homeroom teacher's instructional practices, it is essential that you step in and address the situation.
My principal the other day said something profound about critical conversations; she said to talk to someone, not about them. This really made a lot of sense to me, as schools are notorious for being gossip factories. Instead of talking to everyone else about this teacher, put on your big boy/girl pants and go talk to the teacher directly.
One thought to keep in mind when preparing for this type of conversation is to come at it from a place of empathy. Teachers are human beings that have lives outside of school- which some of our students may doubt! Sometimes, stressors from our personal lives carry over to our professional lives and impact our effectiveness in the classroom. The teacher may not even be aware of the impact that a personal matter is having on his/her effectiveness, which is another reason to have the conversation.
When engaged in a critical conversation, try to steer clear from making it personal. Keep the focus on the students and your concern for their learning. While this may not be a fool proof method to keep the teacher from getting upset, it does keep the conversation on a professional level.
These are difficult conversations to have, as no one appreciates being called out for something they are doing incorrectly. But, by keeping the focus on what is best for students, you will be able to turn this critical conversation into a learning experience for the teacher that will benefit his/her students in the future.
What do you think about the critical conversation? How do you handle these types of conversations with your colleague?
image attributed to icanread