5 Sure-Fire Ways to Ruin Your Teaching Career
It’s easy enough to talk about how to succeed as at teacher, but sometimes we have to take a hard look at the kinds of things that can sink your career.
You didn’t spend all that time and tuition to earn your degree, only to have some poor decisions block your path to success. So, file today’s blog post under “what not to do if you really want to keep teaching for a living”:
With all the moving parts in a school, we have to coordinate our efforts. Teachers, staff, students, secretaries, coaches and everyone else must move together to run the school effectively and help children grow.
That means deadlines have to be met. When you’re given a deadline (no matter how minor the topic), someone is “on hold” until you send them what they need. This could include information they need for a parent meeting, a budget request or paperwork for a class trip.
If you’re late in meeting your responsibilities, you stick someone else in neutral. If you’re a newer teacher, remember that your punctuality and ability to meet deadlines will be seen as a reflection of your overall effectiveness.
Arrive late and unkempt
Punctuality and professional dress convey seriousness about your work. Trust me, we notice.
Being late forces someone to wait around till you arrive — most likely unprepared (running late and lacking preparation seem to run hand-in-hand). Rest assured, your supervisors will interpret lateness as a lack of a serious approach to your job. If you find yourself running late, skip your regular cup of coffee. Nothing looks worse than getting to work late but still managing to find the time to stop off for a cup.
Dressing professionally is an important non-verbal cue about your approach to your work. Teaching isn’t for the casually minded or the casually dressed.
Sitting in the faculty room and railing against all the negative aspects of your work is a great way to torpedo your career. You may think these conversations are private but don’t be fooled: Word will get out that you revel in toxic talk.
While this may not have much of an immediate impact, the trash talk will seep into your colleagues’ perception and start to affect activities you’re invited to participate in. Furthermore, your more dedicated and positive colleagues will begin to avoid you.
Of course, you’ll have frustrations, and you should share them with a trusted colleague. Just make sure you do so carefully and work with people who can help you find solutions and manage them appropriately.
If you find your peer group at work is negative, human nature suggests you’ll become more like them than you may like. Do your best to associate with the positive people.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Communication between students, parents, fellow teachers and administrators is essential for work to flow smoothly.
When you reach out to people, focus on being clear about what you want to accomplish. When using email, after an email conversation hits three passes, get on the phone and speak to the person directly. When working with parents, be direct and specific in your expectations for your class, and reach out sooner rather than later if a child is having a difficult time.
Never “lower the boom” on a parent by staying silent about a child’s struggles and then dropping them all at once on a report card or during a conference. There should be a steady and consistent flow of information from your classroom to parents and the community.
Think only of yourself
Your colleagues need you. If a co-worker is having a difficult time with a student or helping manage a classroom, be there to listen and counsel them. Be considerate and thoughtful of your colleagues, and lend a hand.
If you get a reputation for being selfish, you’ll be sunk when you need help. Be a good colleague. It’ll make the work more rewarding for you, and you’ll be a better teacher for your students.