How are Teachers supposed to interact with other Teachers at work?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by foxfang4, Jul 20, 2016.

  1. foxfang4

    foxfang4 Rookie

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    Jul 20, 2016

    I feel like I don’t know how to interact with my co-workers. And I’m actually afraid of taking full-time work because of this. A little background: I’ve worked as a Substitute Teacher for 4 years. I’m also a very introverted person.

    I find that Teachers are initially very friendly towards me, but after a few hours (or maybe 1-2 days working at a school), that they either completely ignore me or treat me with contempt. This has been consistently happening for 4 years. I can only guess that they treat me this way because:
    A) I never go into the staff room. (Why would a sub even go there?) And B) I really visit other Teachers in their class-rooms. I just feel that I’ll be bothering Teachers who are very busy. Also, I tried going to the Staff Room to chat with other Teachers and had miserable awkward experiences with people who simply don’t want to talk to a random Substitute Teacher.

    So, I’m wondering: how are Teachers expected to interact with other Teachers at work? Are we supposed to just randomly walk-into their classrooms and strike up conversations? Are we consistently supposed to be in the staff-room? I might be starting my first full-time assignment in September, and I’m honestly really nervous about experiencing this for a whole year; especially if the reasons are beyond my understanding.

    Thank you
     
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  3. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I'll give you a perspective of someone who has likely a similar personality to yours:

    As a sub (four years as well), and even to this day as a regular classroom teacher, I like eating lunch in the classroom by myself. Personally, I just need that time to decompress, being as introverted as I am. That being said, I would occasionally go in there so that I could network somewhat; it's amazing how many sub days that you can pick up just by going in there, chatting with some other teachers or joining in conversations. Honestly, if you've had awkward experiences, you don't even need to strike up conversation - let them initiate it! If it was my first time, sometimes I'd eat quietly in the lunch room, sometimes they'd ask a question (even how the day was going so far). I didn't tend to go to the room of other teachers unless I had previously met them/knew them, and was just saying hi. Quite often, if they're in their room instead of in the lunch room, they need some peace and quiet or have work to get done.

    Do what works for you, but don't be afraid of striking up conversation when the time arises. For some, that's every release time that they have. For some, that's just at lunch. For some, it's just here and there. Honestly, I only have one teacher I talk to regularly about non-school stuff, and the rest of the teachers/principal in the school I teach at now, I just talk to about non-school stuff once in a while, when it happens to come up. If you're being a good colleague, and you're willing to have those other conversation from time to time (not necessarily regularly), you'll be just fine next year! You'll get to know that staff really well, and you'll be seen as a colleague and not just a random person that's just there for the day. Stay positive with everyone, be friendly, and you'll see that the same is returned!
     
  4. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Jul 20, 2016

    Another thing to consider is how you non-verbally portray your interest in others. You may be inadvertently giving off signals you don't want them to bother you or you don't want to bother with them. People who naturally display a warm, smiling face, tend to draw more people in. Those who have a more serious face tend to push people away.

    Being an introvert sometimes makes it difficult to put on that genuinely happy face when you have had enough of the world around you, but it may be the difference in how people see and approach you.

    Being that I don't know you at all, I may be off base. However, I know many introverts and the majority tend to have a look on their face that they don't want to participate in "social". That is my experience. It is not meant to generalize all introverts.
     
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  5. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Jul 20, 2016

    A smile, a positive word here and there, even to the secretary...smiling to the kids as you walk through the halls by other teachers...yep, all plays into how others perceive you! Many subs, unfortunately, go through their day with a rough demeanor (not saying you are, OP). Teachers, administrators, and others, will already see you in a positive light if they see that you're enjoying yourself and trying to make it a great place for that class and for the rest of the kids in that same school. I interacted with tons of kids not in the class I was subbing in, and that certainly was noticed by other teachers!
     
  6. foxfang4

    foxfang4 Rookie

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    Jul 20, 2016

    Guys, this is really good advice.

    I think the issue was more "shyness". I always feel that Teachers want nothing from subs (unless they need to use us). Generally I'm very expressive and happy with the kids. I try the same with Teachers, but...adults are different. I can't put my finger on it.

    2 things I took from your posts:
    1. Body language
    2. Meet the Teachers before going to the staff room. (I made the mistake of going to staff rooms without knowing the Teachers.)
     
  7. foxfang4

    foxfang4 Rookie

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    I think the main issue is understanding when to interact with Teachers/Principals/Staff.

    As a sub, they pretty much have no reason to interact with us (unless they need us for a future assignment). Because of that, I never really learned the right "time" or "place" to chat with Teachers. But, from what you're writing, it seems that "hallway" and "staff room" are the main places where most interactions take place.
     
  8. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    Jul 20, 2016

    Having a full time assignment will help. When you are day-to-day it is awkward because you really don't know the teachers and they don't know you. When you are there full time, you get to know your coworkers and there are things you can talk about more easily.

    I have conversations with other teachers in their classrooms when we are both on planning or before and after school. A lot of times these start with me going over to talk about some issue that is happening with a student, or something happening that day. It can quickly turn from a work conversation into something personal though. I have been fortunate to have developed friendships with several coworkers wherever I have been and they have all started with friendly small talk when given the chance here and there.
     
  9. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    Even a LTS helps in that regard (just familiarity). Daily subs aren't always treated the best, but LTS are treated as staff members. It also gets you ins for other opportunities (I got my LTS by talking to several people in the department I got the call in). I'm not really an introvert, so my advice may not totally work, but I figured better to help others than to be silent. Good luck!

    In my personal situation, it took some time before I started reaching out because I felt that I wasn't worthy to be in those kind of conversations as a substitute. I started to go to the teachers' lounges about a month into the year (first year as a sub), and it paid off for me.
     
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  10. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jul 20, 2016

    The way in which a school treats subs has a lot to do with a feeling of camaraderie. A school I subbed at started with check-in at the office where I was given a folder of bell, lunch, dismissal and duty schedules. Special activities for that day were included also. Then the principal introduced himself and walked me to the classroom. The teachers on either side of the classroom came in to introduce themselves and added they were available for questions or any help. When I went to the staff room at lunch my name was displayed on a marquee welcoming me along with the teacher I was subbing for. Teachers sitting introduced themselves and those that entered came over, shook hands and continued introductions. Several conversations were directed my way regarding my background, hobbies and how the day was going. I will go out on a limb and guess if I was hired at this school, no matter my personality type, I would always feel welcome and part of the staff.
     
  11. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    That's awesome! I bet subs didn't mind coming back there.
     
  12. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I find that Teachers are initially very friendly towards me, but after a few hours (or maybe 1-2 days working at a school), that they either completely ignore me or treat me with contempt. This has been consistently happening for 4 years.

    This caught my eye the first time I looked at this thread. Why do you think they would treat you with contempt in a short period of time? Are you needy, overbearing, boastful, conceited, project entitlement, etc.? I won't lie - subs are not typically bosom buddies with teachers they only see occasionally, but that lack of closeness isn't normally called contempt. Something that has been happening for years sounds like some personality issue you may not be aware of, or else you are judging actions of others very harshly. Yes I have subbed, and not all became my best friends, but I was liked well enough. I always offered my time to help others if I was available, even if it wasn't technically my responsibility. Maybe that is why I go to know more about my co-workers. I never felt that being a sub made me a second class citizen. I knew that someday I would be a classroom teacher full time, and I am. But being a sub is the reason that I have been successful. I can go with the flow, make modifications to my plans quickly, and work with virtually all student behaviors. I developed a lot of classroom management skills during those years subbing and they still serve me well. The only sub I ever knew who I would say was treated with contempt was someone who had no business in a classroom. Eventually, admin saw the problems, and that person was told not to return to the district.

    You don't have to be anyone's best friend to do a great job. I never did less than was requested, I usually tried to do more. I left the classroom neat, things in their place, good notes on the day's activities, and I was always willing to learn new things. The only thing I ever truly hated was being called a guest teacher. A guest in my house requires me to do for, ask nothing in return, and it is all on me. If that is how we are seen by contracted teachers, why shouldn't they be put off? I was always proud to be the substitute, because it implied same rules and guidelines were in effect.

    I am not attacking you, foxfang4, but that term contempt did catch my eye, and I was wondering how you got to that determination.
     
  13. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jul 21, 2016

    In general, it is my experience that teachers look at subs differently than other teachers. Do they look down on subs or dislike them? Usually not. Many just see substitute teachers as people who will only be there temporarily. They also see their line of work a little different than their own. Teachers get full control of the decisions in their classroom--substitute teachers often need to follow someone else's lesson plans. Also, teachers often get social time to get know each other before or after faculty meetings. where substitute teachers don't.

    You mention that teachers are initially friendly to you, and then after a few hours/days they often ignore you. To me this sounds typical. Teachers want to be welcoming to people to their campus. They later don't want to put energy into socializing because they see you as a temporary person on campus and not a colleague.

    What to do? First, realize it isn't you. Teachers often don't make friends with substitute teachers. They invest time and energy into relating to other teachers on campus. However, by nature, teachers do like to help. When I was a substitute teacher, I had small conversations with teachers and they often shared their favorite literature book or some helpful teacher idea when I asked. I often started with a sincere compliment on their classroom or about the school to break the ice. Keep the conversations short and value any teacher's time you run into. Good luck to you.
     
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  14. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    This is an awesome point to make. They are the real teachers, and I value any conversation I can get with them. It's even more valuable when they will answer questions for you. I agree with the point about not being a colleague, and that is part of the "respect" angle. We owe them respect (we being subs) for their position, but we also have to earn their respect.
     
  15. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Wow. This all sounds awesome. On an average day, though, we have anywhere from 3-10 subs on site. I can't imagine having time to walk each of them to their classrooms.
     
  16. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I had to place three subs on the do not call list last year.

    One completely ignored the lessons plans. He did show several videos, though (I'm assuming he had brought the movies with him).

    Another decided to let the kids watch YouTube videos on their Chromebooks (we are 1:1 Chromebooks) instead of doing their FASTT Math lessons.

    The final one was a no-show on two seperate occasions, so I ended up having to be the classroom sub on both days!
     
  17. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    How are teachers supposed to act at work? I guess you mean the day-to-day interaction with each other (including subs)...

    I think we are expected to act like part of a team. I think you are supposed to be supportive to a fault, professionally and socially. As a sub, I think it is valuable to do what you can to act like you're part of the team, even if only a day. It goes to the way you dress (I've seen many subs where clothes that doesn't fit in), the way you act (give positive acknowledgements to every staff member and adult you see), and I think you will be received much better. (not you in particular, but in general)
     
  18. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I think you might be reading way more into this than you should. Teachers don't usually interact much with each other during the day because they're simply too busy. It makes sense they would be more friendly at the start of the day and then less so as time goes by. When they do get a break, they sometimes just want to be left alone. If someone comes along and disturbs their solitude, they might react differently based upon who that person is. Frankly, if I want to spend 30 minutes by myself, I'm not going to be the most welcoming to an interruption. If you are new to my campus and you interrupted my break I would try to find out what your immediate need was, help you out quickly and then want you to leave me be. I would not want to chat with someone that is a stranger. If you were a colleague that interrupted that time I would react one of two ways: I'd welcome you in and we'd probably spend the time complaining about the day or just eat in silence. Or I'd say "not a good day - I'm tired and need some alone time."
     
  19. phillyteacher

    phillyteacher Comrade

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    Jul 22, 2016

    I agree with this and with 2ndTimeAround's post. I try to be welcoming when I first come upon a sub but over the course of the day I don't have much time or energy to spend building a friendship with someone I may or may not see again. I will try to smile and/ or say hi in passing, but I am usually not interested in stopping for small talk or whatever because I am either in the midst of things to do for my classes or because I need some down time/ quiet by myself for a bit to recharge. It has nothing to do with the substitute.

    It sounds to me like you are taking things too personally and reading into probably normal behaviors from people who are super busy and distracted.
     
  20. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    You need to change your mindset about how teachers feel about subs.
    I'm wondering if your 'shyness' and 'introverted' nature comes off as socially awkward? How are your interactions with other new people you meet outside of school?
     
  21. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    And the more you make yourself known (in a GOOD way) as a sub to the other teachers will a)get them to like you and b) put you on their radar to request you which will c) get you in the school more to d) make stronger relationships with the teachers which might e) result in a full - time job. Hell I got to know one of the subs who was a regular in my building, having covered for me many times, so when I resigned I told her, "Hey my job will be open" and told our P to put her on the list. I loved having her in my classroom. Guess what? She got hired in the District. You never know.

    I plan on jumping on the sub train this year in the neighboring schools while I take my night classes so we'll see if I put my money where my mouth is or am I all talk, no action. LOL :):rofl::toofunny:

    But one of the schools I had already worked in as an intern anyway, but the other two I have no connections other than they are within driving distance. But most (all?) teachers graduated from the same college, which is right up the road. So if nothing else we could talk about that. You just have to put yourself out there and realize that if you're a teacher, these are your people.
     
  22. sharan singh

    sharan singh Rookie

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    Jul 22, 2016

    Shyness will not there if you want to interact with others. Try to find out space where you can talk with other teachers like in staff rooms.
     
  23. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I'll be real with you here. I'll smile to subs, and I'll make sure they know they can ask me questions, but I'm not going to go out of my way to talk with them. It's nothing personal, there aren't a lot of people I got out of my way to talk with. I'm not going to shun anyone, but if a sub is eating lunch in their room and isn't seeking me out for conversation, I probably won't really talk with them outside of checking in.
     
  24. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I'll introduce myself to subs who are working in adjoining rooms and let them know that I'm available if they need me. If we are in the hall, or on supervision duty together, I'll chat about how their day is going, the weather, etc. for a minute or two. That's about it. That is, also, the extent of the conversation I have with most of my colleagues on a typical day. I have a couple of close friends I usually talk with every day, but none of us really have time to visit during the time we are at school.
     

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