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Personal perspectives

Can you change your workplace with four words?

Adam Inder
Three minutes
Adam Inder Friday, October 30th, 2015

The reality of being a teacher is that there is always something more you can be doing. Improving lesson plans, differentiating the class, creating more resources…the list is endless.

As a consequence, it is very easy for teachers to let their work-life balance slip in favour of their work – I have been no exception to this on many occasions.

There’s all the chaos of our day-to-day work, whether it’s the early morning photocopying, running between classes, or desperately trying to eat in the spare seconds we find in the day!

We can neglect not only our own self-care, but it’s also very easy to forget the other people that work and teach alongside us on a daily basis.

Even in my short teaching experience, I’ve found immense power in these four words:

“How can I help?”

The reality is that for me, most of the time, colleagues will politely decline. All the teachers in my workplace are far more experienced than I am, and are likely far more prepared and balanced.

Nonetheless, just the idea of knowing that someone cares enough to look outside of their frantic life to make sure that your frantic life is going well is enough to bring collegiality to higher levels.

“How can I help?”, if sincere, transcends beyond “How are you?” and “Let me know if you need anything”.

These sentences don’t require any physical effort other than mouthing the words themselves.

“How can I help?” is a request to become a part of someone’s life and experiences by lightening their burden.

In my school, this has gone a long way in helping me build relationships with the people I work with. It sends a message that I genuinely care and wish to help if needed.

Just as we throw down our time and other resources for our students whom we love dearly, I firmly believe in a workplace where we are flexible and generous in giving our time to serve our fellow teachers. After all, they are helping us to conquer great things in our schools.

When it’s possible, look to help someone else out – we all know that on our bad days it’s those that step up to help and support us that make the difference.

Let’s be the difference for someone else who may need it on that day when we can help.

What interactions have you had with your colleagues that have helped to strengthen workplace relationships? 

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