4 Ways To Effectively Deal With Important People

Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

996848_distresseddigits_4If work just isn’t seeming to work out for you, maybe you are focusing your attention in the wrong place.

Here is a list of the people in the educational world of your school who should get the most attention.

  1. Students
  2. Parents
  3. Secretaries
  4. Assistant Principal(s)
  5. Principal
  6. Counselors
  7. Other Teachers In Your Department
  8. Custodians
  9. The Rest Of The Teachers

So how do we do this? Here are four areas that I have had success focusing on.
Develop basic social skills
Much of what I have learned about social interaction was learned when I was 21 years old and read How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Trent from The Simple Dollar covers 9 social skills to practice here. These are priceless and really should be common sense. But as Dave Ramsey points out frequently, common sense isn’t usually all that common.

All of these things should be practiced regularly with all of the people on the list above. Too many teachers forget to do these to their students and the parents of those students.

  • Look People In The Eye – Something I have been doing a LOT more lately, but still struggle with
  • Smile – Carnegie’s advice but so many people fail to do this
  • Remember As Many Names As You Can – Learn the names of your students! Even if the students don’t know your name. Use the names of the secretaries when you call them. Even if they are at another school.
  • Offer Greeting To Anyone And Everyone – Especially if someone greets you first!
  • Ask Questions – Questions inspire learning. Answers will also educate you.
  • If You Don’t Know What To Say, Ask Another Question – Don’t make up an answer!
  • Talk About Your Own Mistakes – People like to know they aren’t the only ones who don’t measure up. Especially from 6th – 9th grades.
  • Take An Interest In What Is Important To Them – Go to basketball games, choir concerts, one-act plays, etc.
  • Keep Clean – Both physically and morally

Remember your priorities
A wise man once said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). While these words were spoken in an eternal sense, they also can be applied to other aspects of life. If you are truly interested in people, you will focus on them. If you aren’t, then no amount of putting on a show will ultimately be effective for long-term personal development. Teachers should be teaching because they love children. Not because we hate doing administrative paperwork or because we want to complain about this or that. This brings us to the next point…

READ  Student Teaching 2009 Update

Avoid gossip
Teachers’ lounges breed gossip and negativity. I only go in there to get the junk out of my mailbox, and even then not every day. There’s usually nothing pressing that I have to respond to immediately, and it just adds clutter to my life (although I have learned out how have a permanently clean desk).

Communicate with parents
I began emailing parents last year about two times a month or so. It does two things directly, as well as having some other residual effects. First, it increases the amount of communication I get from parents. I get less phone calls than before, but much more email. When they know that I am available, they contact me. I even had a parent email me last summer who had just finished her teaching degree, she was asking my advice on whether she should take a job in another town or one here. The second direct result of the emails is that the parents have a better idea of what is going on. I email concert dates, some grading information, etc. While increased email activity can be tiring at times, it is better to put out the fires before the problem rather than after!

Toward the end of last school year, I set up a blog. Every email that I sent out to parents first went to the blog. Feedburner is available so parents can sign up for emails that way. I also included an email address blank on the student information sheets at the beginning of the year in case they couldn’t figure out how to subscribe or simply didn’t have the time to do it. So the procedure is that I email the information to blogger from school (or post from home since it’s blocked at school). I then forward the email that FeedBurner sends me (which is formatted much nicer than the plaintext emails that I send from school). The parents get the information and then begin flooding my email box with replies. And if they delete the email with important information, they can always go to the blog and check it out. It’s beautiful!

4 Comments on 4 Ways To Effectively Deal With Important People

  1. I agree wholeheartedly in your assessment.

    I have recently posted about my tour management and techniques and have included (not as succinctly) many of your habits.

    Using Dale Carnegieís, How to Win Friends and Influence People, teaches rudimentary social skills, positioning tactics, public speaking, and assertiveness. It was designed for salespeople and middle management. I would hope that in conjunction with selling oneself to the students as an authority figure, one possesses other virtues and qualities worth following. Itís not enough to be in charge, one should possess solid character to become a positive role model. That is how to truly manage not only your classroom, but your life. Thatís leadership.

  2. Hi,
    Am looking at your website to gain insight into completing an assignment on classroom management. I am struggling a bit and have found this site useful. But wouyld love more basic info or examples of classroom management plans.
    Annie

  3. Tour Marm: Yes, of course character and integrity come into play here as well. Just selling myself to my students for the sake of selling myself to my students would be silly. Of course, I know teachers who do that…

    Annie: I just realized that I didn’t respond to your comment on here. For anyone else reading this, The Reader Appreciation Month articles approach classroom management from 16 different viewpoints and conclude with summaries that should be very helpful for you!

  4. @missd – Glad to have you as a new reader. I really have read all of your comments, just have been so busy and finally forced myself to sit down and begin replying some tonight. I’m interested in reading to hear about how your job search goes this summer and all. If there’s anything I can do to help, feel free to let me know!

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