Q | This is my first year teaching, and my grade-level team is unsupportive. What can I do?
A | As if things aren’t challenging enough in your first year! It’s certainly discouraging that your “team” can’t cooperate enough to help you be successful, but don’t make their problem your problem. And don’t get involved with personal issues between team members or criticize your colleagues to others—doing so could make matters worse.
Despite your team’s dysfunction, you may be able to work with one or two of the teachers as individuals. If not, it’s time to look elsewhere for the help you need.
If you have been assigned a mentor, even if he or she works at a different grade level, use that person as support. The most common issues for first-year teachers are planning and classroom management. A successful veteran teacher can offer many practical suggestions in these areas even if she doesn’t teach at your grade level. If no mentor has been assigned, perhaps your principal could suggest someone to serve in that role.
Your team may be uncooperative, but I’ll bet there are other competent and respected teachers on staff who would be more than willing to give you their help and guidance, if you ask. Be assertive: You cannot allow a small group of negative people to keep you and your students from having a great year.
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Suzanne Tingley is a former teacher, principal, superintendent, and education professor. Her Practical Leadership blog can be found at scholastic.com/administrator.