Teacher Tips Dealing with Demanding Colleagues

Part of the challenge of teaching involves dealing with demanding colleagues. Every teacher has to deal with demands made by their colleagues, as well as the teacher making demands. At time, there are no easy answers and the teaching environment can become less than pleasant.

Maintaining peace in a teaching environment is important and mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthier for teachers and students alike.

The article, “Peace of mind at the workplace” offers “tips and suggestions to experience inner peace at your workplace.”

How to deal with demanding colleagues often entails discipline and ingenuity on the part of other teachers.

Consider the following teacher tips for dealing with demanding colleagues. 

Realistic versus non-realistic demands by colleagues:

Teachers on every level, from kindergarten to university, want what is best for their students. At times, the demands made by teaching colleagues are realistic, but not always. Taking a moment to determine whether the demands of a colleague are realistic is important, as it is generally preferable for teachers to be able to work together, than to be at odds with one another.

Teachers confronted with unrealistic demands by another colleague may begin to wonder what he is she is attempting to accomplish?   

Effective communication related to demands by teaching colleagues:

Whether there are realistic demands or non-realistic demands from a teacher, effective communication can eliminate a lot of unnecessary misunderstanding, frustration and confusion. Seeking early clarification may be necessary to determine what the demands made by the colleague involve.

A demanding colleague may have high expectations other teachers do not necessarily comprehend. For example, a relatively new, demanding teacher may have taken courses that other teachers have not participated in yet. He or she may be attempting to introduce a new teaching model, much to the dismay of other teachers.

There is another possibility, that is, he or she may be attempting to cover over something like the lack of professional teaching credentials.

Third party intervention:  

Third party intervention is a good idea when there is a colleague who appears to be making unreasonable demands on one particular teacher, or others. For example, several teachers may be competing for the same permanent teaching job. As with any kind of career, there is normally a high level of employment competition in the teaching profession.

Finding a suitable third party to act in the capacity of a mediator or consultant can help to clarify wherein the problem lies.

If teachers are competing for a job in an employment setting, the most aggressive teacher may be attempting to eliminate his or her competition by making unreasonable demands on others. He or she may also be trying to impress the employer by bullying other teachers, the use of overt aggression or other methods of intimidation. 

Respect for professionalism:

Professionalism in teaching commands respect. Respect works two ways, first, with regard to the demanding teaching colleague and secondly, in terms of demands made on teachers by a colleague.

There is a professional way to introduce transition or change into an educational system. Basic principles of respect, care and compassion allow room for teaching colleagues, plus the introduction of new concepts and ideas.

Note that any demanding colleague, who tends towards making unreasonable demands on others, may quickly find that the prime teaching jobs go to professional teachers, rather than overly aggressive teachers who make unreasonable demands on other teaching colleagues.