What would you do?
Get curious about it and ask to have a conversation
Feel guilty and start closing your door
Talk to another colleague about what you should do
Complain to your principal and ask to move classrooms
Option 1: Get curious about it and ask to have a conversation.
Being curious in a conversation is the best way to get to dialogue, but when you first receive feedback it may be difficult to be curious or think of the right questions to ask. Take time to reflect and return to your colleague for a quick, private conversation. Being curious in this situation might sound like:
- Can you give me an example?
- Can you say more about that? Are there times or patterns that are more/less disruptive?
- How did that impact you?
- What could I change that would matter most (students working in the hallway, door open during art, etc…)?
Option 2: Feel guilty or resentful, start closing your door, and avoid the teacher.
We often tell tall tales about ourselves, others, and situations. You may tell a victim story by thinking – “It’s not my fault that I have an unruly class. You should feel sympathy for me.” You may tell a villain story about the teacher who gave you feedback by ruminating about what a difficult teacher she is to teach beside and how she might have noise in her room if she ever taught anything fun and creative. Finally, you may tell a helpless story about your ability to influence the situation by thinking “there is nothing I can do, everything is out of my control, if only I was a better classroom manager or had more cooperative students.”
We are usually the sympathetic hero of our stories, but consider the following questions:
- What am I pretending not to notice about my role?
- Why would a rational, reasonable, decent person behave this way/say that to me?
- What is something I could do right now to address the situation?
Option 3: Complain to another colleague about how you now have to teach with your door closed.
Conversations about this issue should only occur between you and the colleague with whom you are having the issue. Inviting the opinions of other colleagues is inappropriate and a violation of Article 6 of the MTS Code of Professional Practice:
A Member first directs any criticism of the professional activity and related work of a colleague to that colleague in private. Only after informing the colleague of the intent to do so, the complainant may direct in confidence the criticism to appropriate officials through the proper channels of communication.
Option 4: Ask your principal to move classrooms.
If this is the first incident of this nature with your neighbouring colleague, moving classrooms is overkill. Also consider the fact that moving your classroom would potentially displace another teacher, and this could cause additional issues. It is important to try to address the situation collaboratively before considering other options. Try to get to the root of the issue:
- Are there certain times of the day that the noise from your classroom is most disruptive to your neighbour (ie: Centre Time)?
- Do you send students out into the hallway to work, and are there alternative spaces you could use?
- Is your voice particularly loud?
- Could you consider the other teacher’s timetable for times that increased noise from your classroom would be less disruptive (ie: when they are doing art or out of the room for music, library, PE)?
If you and your colleague have attempted to work it out yourself to no avail, and you both agree to involve the principal, you may approach him/her for assistance in resolving the issue.
Option 5: Do nothing.
Sometimes we think we are choosing nothing, but choosing nothing is choosing something. Chances are, you have chosen one of the other options: feeling guilty or resentful, avoiding the other teacher or avoiding talking about how you might compromise, complaining about it, or withdrawing completely by asking to move classrooms. It is important to be aware of what or how you may be triggered by receiving this type of feedback:
Truth Triggers occur when we disagree with the content of the feedback; it is perceived as untrue or unfair. Sometimes, the feedback is generic and vague and we don’t know what it means or how we might change. You are wrong. That’s not helpful.
Relationship Triggers are based on an issue with the judgment, credibility, or motives of the feedback provider, so you give yourself permission to dismiss the content based on this disregard. Who are you to say? You are the problem, not me. That was so rude. I don’t like how you treat me. I do not feel appreciated, accepted, or trusted by you.
Identity Triggers. When feedback threatens the story you tell yourself about who you are and what the future holds, it is unsettling (I am a great teacher and a considerate colleague). Our feelings about that discomfort can distort the feedback itself. I screw everything up. People will think I am inconsiderate. This is overwhelming, I feel ashamed, I feel threatened.
— Advice compiled by MTS Staff