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Educator-to-Educator Relationships: Beliefs

Affirm Value | Respect | Trust

Affirm Value

Working with colleagues who affirm your values supports collaboration and connectedness. Relationships flow easily when educators share an outlook on what it means to work with students: taking a strengths-based approach or valuing certain traits (integrity, grit, etc.) are a few examples.

Tips for Educators

  • Genuinely show admiration when you see another educator doing something you can learn from.

  • Democratize shared spaces so every educator feels they have a say and contributes to a shared school vision.

  • Set up a routine to honor educators’ efforts and contributions (e.g., celebrate teaching anniversaries).

How do your values for teaching strengthen your relationship with other educators?

It's my belief that you put the students first. I'm here to teach them, but it's their education. I totally dedicate myself to that, so when I feel like another teacher isn't working from the same set of values, if they're just coasting or making it about them rather than the students, that really is off-putting to me.

—An educator, discussing how values influence relationships

Note:

  1. When other educators don’t affirm or share your values, it can be a barrier to building relationships. In our study, we heard about how an educator’s negative assumptions about students can create tension among colleagues.

  2. Educators with marginalized identities sometimes have to support the values of the dominant culture and tolerate it when their own values are not supported in return, which can make relationship-building difficult.

Respect

While there are an abundance of studies about respect being a core aspect of educator-student relationships, fewer studies have examined respect as it relates to educator-educator relationships.

With mutual respect, educators can see each other as role models, collaborators, mentors, and friends. Feeling valued and respected encourages educators to do their best at work and invest in their careers through professional development or continuing education.

Tips for Educators

  • Show colleagues grace and understanding on their difficult days.

  • Be a listening ear while keeping sensitive information in confidence.

  • Demonstrate and offer your own vulnerability in balance with professionalism.

  • Refrain from speaking negatively about colleagues.

  • Be reliable: Tell your colleagues what you are going to do, then do it.

How does showing respect and feeling respected strengthen your relationship with other educators?

When you see someone doing work that you're philosophically in line with, or like, "Oh my, why didn't I think of that?" or, "That's brilliant!" You end up admiring them for it, and it makes you excited to see what another day could hold, or see where your department can go. It gets you enthusiastic about the next day.

—An educator, on how demonstrating respect and admiration can strengthen relationships

Note: Educator-to-educator relationships are compromised when educators do not respect their colleagues (e.g., doubting someone’s competence or not meeting basic professional standards).

Trust

Trust is integral to educator relationships, well-being, and empowerment.¹

Many factors determine how well we are able to trust our colleagues. Or own capacity for trust, interactions with educators that support or diminish trust, and trust as a value in the school community, are just a few. Trust grows when educators can be vulnerable without fear of repercussions, and when they know they can count on each other.

Tips for Educators

  • Show colleagues grace and understanding on their difficult days.

  • Be a listening ear while keeping sensitive information in confidence.

  • Demonstrate and offer your own vulnerability in balance with professionalism.

  • Refrain from speaking negatively about colleagues.

  • Be reliable: Tell your colleagues what you are going to do, then do it.

How does trusting and being trusted strengthen your relationship with other educators?

Having the ability to talk and share what you want without feeling that there will be repercussions is really important. And generally just being able to be listened to, I think that's the big one.

—An educator, discussing the importance of trust

Note: Inequitable power dynamics, unreasonable expectations, gossip about other educators can all erode trust. Trust is also eroded when educators feel blindsided and surprised in situations where they have been betrayed by a colleague, often with nowhere to turn for support.²

Roots

Educator-to-Educator Relationships

  1. Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Forsyth, Adams & Hoy, 2011; Hoy & Tarter, 2011; Tschannen-Moran, 2004
  2. Hargreaves, 2010