Caring vs. Complaining

As a new or young teacher, it can be intimidating to approach an administrator when issues arise. Young teachers don’t want to rock the boat too much, for fear of developing a reputation as a complainer or out of worry that there could be retribution.

Sometimes the fear of going to an administrator for help is so crippling that teachers elect to remain in the uncomfortable and counterproductive status quo rather than deal with the scary proposition of having a difficult conversation with a higher-up. When students’ well-being is at stake, though, teachers need to summon the courage and go for it. If an environment or situation exists between adults that is adversely affecting students, and the adults can’t work it out, administration needs to be summoned to help find common ground so that the students don’t continue to suffer.

By the same token, administrators need to have an open mind when a concern is presented. I have been lucky in my experiences to have good dialogue with administrators around what is best for the students. Sometimes we lose sight of it because administrators have so much on their shoulders, but their original reasons for entering education are the same as ours: the kids.

So, yes, it can be hard to bring concerns to administrators, but it has to be done. Usually, the anticipation is worse than the actual experience, anyway. If you’re having an issue or you feel your students are getting the short end of the stick, plan some points you can present that show how the kids are being affected. Administration will be much more sympathetic if you come at things from the students’ perspective.


3 responses to “Caring vs. Complaining

  1. Great post. I always use the “front page news” test in uncomfortable situations. I imagine the situation playing out if I speak up and if I don’t speak up. Sometimes it points to a situation that’s not worthy of using my voice, but other times, even if there are repercussions, speaking up is the only right way. Imagine the front page news: “Teacher Speaks Up to Protect and/or Support Child” or “Teacher Does Not Speak Up to Support a Child in Need.” Right now there’s a situation like this playing out in the Boston news–it’s always better to speak up for what’s right.

  2. Matthew,
    You are so correct in what you are saying. Though it can be tough to approach administrators about a co worker, when you are talking about how the issue impacts the children, you are doing the right thing. In my experience I’ve found that the administrator didn’t always know that a problem existed and was eager to help solve it. I always told my teachers to try to work things out themselves and I would intervene if necessary. The next step should be that the administrator meets with all parties involved so everyone hears what each person is saying and points can be clarified on the spot and a plan of action can be developed. When the egos, personalities, personal relationships, etc, are removed from the conversation and the mind set is totally on what’s good for kids, the children are the winners.

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