When You’re Not Working as a Team

When we ask Renay sometimes what to do when we don’t like some of our co-workers or our assignment, she says first thing, “Don’t bite them.” And we laugh and we say, “No, really I’m not getting along with that person. What can I do?” After we were done laughing, we know that not everyone communicates in the same way, even among adults.

So here are some tips to improve your ability get along with a fellow professional

  1. Try to have some space. Try opposite ends of the room.
  2. To avoid personality clashes: be honest and upfront about “Hey, can you take notes in this class we’re together and I will keep track of the students who haven’t handed the assignments in.” Offer up equal responsibilities in interchanging manners. Do not always do the heavy lifting but don’t use that against the other person. Make the responsibilities clear so that you both have spheres of influence to help the entire class.
  3. Kill them with kindness. If that coworker is late, always make sure that the students they service are set up ready to go when they walk in. Smile. Hand the notes over.
  4. Always speak professionally to the coworker with students and other colleagues. There are a lot of reasons not to like someone, but be professional first.
  5. Support each other. Especially when enforcing school policies.
  6. Realize shared spaces, like the classroom, are to be neutral if you really need to discuss something. Pick somewhere else with space to walk away if you both get heated.
  7. Find out things they like. Get to know the person. This seems antithetical. But if you find out that coworker likes dark chocolate, every now and then a small piece of dark chocolate or a bar on a special occasion does grease the wheels of kindness.
  8. Make your goal to be a clear communicator. Avoid sarcasm or little jokes because others don’t hear those special lifts in your voice all the time.
  9. Be respectful if you realize you’re the one they’ve put boundaries on. This is sometimes hard. But realize that your methods of working with students may not be an appropriate method for working with all students.

There are a lot of things going on in a classroom, but agreeing to put professionalism between the adults and students as the ultimate goal helps create a starting point. You don’t have to agree 100% of the time, but you have to make the best of the relationship and find away to have mutual respect. 

One more thing before we go….

We want all interactions between professionals to be kind and productive. There are all sorts of people who are good fits for working with different students. Like we often tell students: you can’t pick your bosses. Sometimes the job you need is the job that has unfavorable conditions. Knowing how to communicate professionally can go a long way to helping students learn to treat others with respect, even with a difference in approaches is an important thing to model to all students.

It is Veteran’s Day this Sunday. Most of us have Monday off. On the 11th hour, of the 11th month, on the 11thday, it was agreed that the Great War (World War I) would end. While this day is Veteran’s Day in the United States, it means no less. So for those of you who have chosen to wear a uniform or were drafted, we thank you for the ability to continue to have rights as citizens in a democracy, the option of voting for who we best feel will do the job we need to get done, the recognition that we can help our fellow human beings out across the world. We recognize that all our Veterans gave something of their lives, even without going overseas to serve.

Wherever you are, thank you for your service. To your immediate family who felt the loss of your long days, missed holidays and other special moments, thank you for your service.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

About paraeducate

ParaEducate is a company run to help reach out to paraeducators or paraprofessionals in public K-12 schools, giving advice, talking about publications that ParaEducate produces, and other useful information regarding working in public school settings.
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