This week’s Leadership Column is courtesy of Tom Blumenauer

How do We Want to be Viewed???

Every year Baltimore Magazine does an article sometime late in the calendar year of the top 25 places to work in the Baltimore area. Many of us who subscribe glance through and become instantly envious of employees at some of these locations. Who wouldn’t like being paid to obtain a higher level of education, face very little turnover in staffing, and receive a solid retirement and health insurance plan? Wait, we have a majority of that as educators in Baltimore County. So if this is the case, why does it seem like a revolving door of co-workers, both in our building as well as throughout the rest of the county every year?

Much of that revolving door image can be blamed on one particular topic-culture. Let’s face it, we’ve all been in those dinner conversations with relatives or friends who sit there and bash people in education. “It must be nice to have off all summer, and every holiday too.” “You barely work yet you pretend like the world should be paying you millions.” We’ve all had to deal with these conversations. Many of us sat there, taking it all in, pretending like we didn’t care. Some of us I’m sure have spoken up before realizing it just wasn’t worth the fight, they just don’t understand what we do.

Not only are we dealing with the stress of change at work, but also the stress from society of this tainted image of what educators really do. This combination punch isn’t for the weak at heart. As Lisa said last week, it takes GRIT!

Overcoming all the stresses starts with the culture of our work environment. We get paid to do one of the most rewarding jobs in the world yet many of us stare at the clock, waiting for 2:20, waiting for the calendar to say Friday. How do we stop this trend? How do we get that switch back to enjoyment?

It starts with building a positive school culture. The following steps are considered key components of changing the culture of an environment.

  1. Build Strong Relationships
  2. Teach Essential Social Skills
  3. Get on the same page
  4. Be Role Models
  5. Clarify Classroom and School Rules
  6. Teach Problem Solving
  7. Set Appropriate Consequences
  8. Praise Students for Good Choices

In reading through these, there can’t be enough stress placed in step 1. Everything begins with the relationship you have with your coworkers. It starts with time and effort. Yes time is limited and many are already feeling the stress of not having enough time to do what is required. Create priorities! How are you going to sit there stressing through your SLO data without that coworker to commiserate with or vent to? We talk all the time about the silo style work environments. That doesn’t just go for planning together. The same can be said for socialization as well.

The other big component is 4, be a role model. Sometimes we forget that every day we have over 100 students in our rooms studying everything we say, every action we do. By now we’ve all heard, “such and such allows this, why don’t you?” Is this really the image we want? As I tell my baseball players, you are only as strong as your weakest link. If one teacher allows something it creates a headache for everyone else. One teacher rolls into work on a regular basis, the rest of the faculty looks bad.

We all need to be on the same page! We spend over 1300 hours together each year. It’s time to get to know and assist your co-workers. No one said they needed to become your best friend. Step up and become that role model we idolized when we were in school. I guarantee if you look back to the teacher you looked up to the most, you found someone that continuously met the 8 components above. We aren’t all perfect, but we can all give it our best effort. This second semester, lets work together to improve our culture and create that workplace that even Baltimore Magazine would enjoy.

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