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Educator-to-Educator Relationships: Actions

Communicate | Collaborate | Support


School-based research shows that good communication has a positive impact on educator wellbeing.¹ Open, transparent, genuine, and consistent colleague communication supports feelings of connection and commitment to the school.

How does communication strengthen your relationship with other educators?

It shouldn't feel like the underground railroad when we're talking. We shouldn't have to hide by the water cooler in a back room to discuss our experiences, but this is what happens. I know my white coworkers and male coworkers can meet in the middle of the hallway, talk freely, miss class, talk at lunch, and get dinner together. For [people of color], if we're seen together, we're a “gang.”

—An educator of color, on how communication strengthens educator relationships

A note about code-switching:

In our study, educators of color spoke about needing to “code-switch” when communicating with colleagues. This means they felt pressure to switch from the communication patterns of their own culture to the dominant culture’s communication style to make relationships comfortable or easy for the majority. Code-switching comes at a cost to authenticity, and the emotional labor required takes up valuable time and energy. It’s difficult to form deep, authentic relationships when educators feel they need to code-switch to be accepted.

Communicate | Tips for Educators

  • Communicate openly about your feelings and needs.

  • Authentically listen. Pay attention to the body language, tone of voice, and emotions of your colleagues.

  • Exchange feedback regularly with other educators.

  • Step away from aggressive or hostile communication.

Communicate | Tips for Administrators and Leaders

  • Ensure your school culture provides a safe space for educators to speak freely

  • Model genuine and open communication at the leadership level.

  • Develop school-wide norms for communication (e.g., responding to emails, staff conflict resolution processes and policies, etc.).

  • Note: Cryptic, sporadic, or aggressive communication can leave educators feeling detached.


Working closely to create a new class or revise a curriculum requires elements of feedback, trust, and leadership support.² When done well, educator collaboration enhances relationships and benefits school culture and climate.³

How does collaboration strengthen your relationship with other educators?

I've been with my co-teacher for about six years. We get along really well, and so I've kind of learned her curriculum, and she's learned mine. So we cover for each other and help each other out and have a real positive relationship.

—An educator sharing a personal experience of collaboration

Note: Busy schedules, social hierarchies, and unclear goals can get in the way of effective collaboration.

Collaborate | Tips for Educators

  • When possible, work within and across teams instead of alone or in “silos” to receive support and build camaraderie.

  • Share effective teaching strategies with your team and peers through professional learning communities (PLC), friend groups, and during common planning time. The favor will likely be returned.

  • Introvert and neurodivergent educators can leverage online forums and resources to connect with peers virtually

Collaborate | Tips for Administrators and Leadership 

  • Encourage educator-led initiatives.

  • Model collaboration at the leadership level

Cohen, J., Mccabe, E. M., Michelli, N. M., & Pickeral, T. (2009). School climate: research, policy, practice, and teacher education. Teachers College Record: The Voice of Scholarship in Education, 111(1), 180–213. https://doi.org/10.1177/016146810911100108

Johnson, B. (2003). Teacher collaboration: Good for some, not so good for others. Educational Studies, 29(4), 337–350. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305569032000159651

Kolleck, N., Schuster, J., Hartmann, U., & Gräsel, C. (2021). Teachers’ professional collaboration and trust relationships: An inferential social network analysis of teacher teams. Research in Education, 003452372110315. https://doi.org/10.1177/00345237211031585

Schleifer, D., Rinehart, C., & Yanisch, T. (2017). Teacher collaboration in perspective: A guide to research. Public Agenda. Retrieved https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED591332

Thomson, A. M., Perry, J. L., & Miller, T. K. (2007). Conceptualizing and measuring collaboration. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 19(1), 23–56. https://doi.org/10.1093/jopart/mum036

Vangrieken, K., Dochy, F., Raes, E., & Kyndt, E. (2015). Teacher collaboration: A systematic review. Educational Research Review, 15, 17–40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2015.04.002


Support overlaps with the Framework element of trust. With trust, educators are more likely to offer and receive support. Support can strengthen the fabric of connection and foster good collaboration.⁴ It can improve teaching, help educators grow professionally, create initiatives, strengthen relationships, and bring ideas to life.

Forms of support can include mentoring, peer observations, constructive feedback, emotional support, and dedicating time or resources to a colleague.

How does providing support strengthen your relationship with other educators?

The thing that helps build relationships is listening—then acting on what I'm hearing. What follow-up and feedback am I giving? I’m digging deeper into our formative assessment process, and a big part of that is feedback, feedback, feedback. We have so many teachers who could be amazing leaders. It’s up to the admin to support those goals so we can lift these teachers up so they can grow.

— An administrator, on how support from leadership can positively impact other educator

Note: In the face of high expectations, overfilled schedules, lack of funding, and burnout, support is critical.

Support | Tips for Educators

  • Reach out to other educators for emotional support. A simple, “I see you,” can go a long way.

  • Check in on other educators. Keep each other accountable for self-care and mental health breaks. Express gratitude and don’t forget to take time to laugh.

  • Be open to providing and receiving constructive feedback from other educators.

Support | Tips for Administrators and Leaders

  • Provide support without micromanaging your educators

  • Facilitate mentoring, peer observations, feedback sessions, and other opportunities for support.

Singh, K., & Billingsley, B. S. (1998). Professional support and its effects on teachers' commitment. The Journal of Educational Research, 91(4), 229–239. doi:10.1080/00220679809597548

Skaalvik, E. M., & Skaalvik, S. (2011). Teacher job satisfaction and motivation to leave the teaching profession: Relations with school context, feeling of belonging, and emotional exhaustion. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(6), 1029–1038. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2011.04.001

Whitaker, T., Good, M. W., & Whitaker, K. (2019, September 1). How principals can support new teachers. ASCD. Retrieved https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/how-principals-can-support-new-teachers

Selected Resources

WOOP Worksheet (E2E)

Translate your hopes for yourself and your school into actionable steps to improve relationships.

Group Juggle (E2E)

Experience supporting one another, while connecting personally and professionally.

Active Listening (E2E)

Learn about and practice concrete actions you can take to be an active listener in your community of educators.

Educator Strengths (E2E)

Take the VIA Character Strengths for Adults survey and create an action plan for leveraging your strengths to build better relationships.

Collaboration Rubric (E2E)

Learn more about enhancing collaboration and identify areas for improvement.

Communication Style (E2E)

Understand the 4 types of communication style and how they affect educator relationships.

Nonviolent Communication (E2E)

Strengthen your relationship with other educators by learning and practicing nonviolent communication.


Educator-to-Educator Relationships