How to Survive a Toxic Work Environment at School
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But, we all know that words CAN and DO hurt! It is time to learn how to survive a toxic work environment at school.
If you are an educator trying to survive the daily grind, your work environment means everything to you. The relationships you have with colleagues can be the difference between surviving a difficult school year, or requesting a transfer to a different building.
Below are five tips that should help you survive a toxic work environment at school.
Don’t Hang Around with Negative Nellies
Every school has them. They are like gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe, they pull and cling to you and don’t go away easily. They have rarely anything nice to say, and often are looking to complain about someone or something at your school. These people surface in the teacher’s lounge, the copy room, and sometimes may even poke their head into your classroom. These are the people that you need to try to avoid if you can. Some may even be your teaching partners, or people you have to work closely with. If that is the case, try to minimize the time you spend with them at school. That may be hard to do, but don’t fall into the daily trap of their negativity.
Listen to Music or Sit in Peace
“Serenity now!” As George Castanza from the sitcom “Seinfeld” would shout. Everyone needs their space, and a great way to get back your serenity is to take some time to sit quietly in your classroom, or to put on some music that makes you happy. I have found this to be extremely calming, and I can feel the stress leaving. It can even be just a few short minutes, but that amount of time can do wonders for your attitude at school.
Stop, Collaborate, and Listen
If any of you thought that this could be a new tune for Vanilla Ice, well, you could be on to something! But in all seriousness, the best way to survive a toxic work environment is to be able to work collaboratively with your peers. If your team is dedicated to the main goal of helping students improve in their academics, then your work environment will be that much more productive and conducive to obtaining that goal. A key component of collaboration is listening to your peers’ ideas as well. True collaboration involves the input of everyone on the team, and by focusing on student data your team will be moving in the right direction, and your team will work hard together to accomplish a collaborative goal.
Cherish the Time with Your Students
Yes, one of the best ways to avoid the negative atmosphere in the workplace is to enjoy the time you have with your students. After all, that is why you are in the education profession. It surely isn’t about the pay, right? So when you are in your classroom, and the door is shut, and you have the students all to yourself, enjoy it! Kids are a natural adrenaline boost and can really make you feel appreciated. Just think back to those cards or pictures they have made for you throughout the school year. They may not show it every day, but they truly appreciate what you do for them on a daily basis!
Leave Your Problems at the Door
Never, ever, under any circumstances bring the negative energy from your school day home to your spouse and/or kids. Check your attitude at the door and turn that frown upside down. Toxicity can spread like wildfire. You need to put those fires out before heading home. Your family will thank you for it, and you will feel so much better being able to spend quality time together.
Remember, you do have control of your attitude. Use these five tips above to make your work environment more enjoyable and productive for you. Then you can learn how to survive a toxic work environment at school.