- Most workplaces contain job slackers, agitators and employees who are resistant to changes imposed by the administration, but in a school environment, these negative attitudes can have broader consequences that can taint school culture and affect morale, Education Week reports.
- By identifying toxic teachers and other employees, responding to sound advice, and employing specific strategies, principals can foster better school environments. Some of these strategies include building relationships and rapport with all staff members, tackling problems early rather than ignoring them, and addressing negative behavior with the employee clearly and in a private setting.
- Principals also need to listen to concerns closely and examine themselves to make sure their own moods, attitudes and behaviors are not contributing to the problem.
Staff difficulties can arise from several causes. Some teachers are resistant to change and resent new administrators because they feel loyalty to past leaders. Some are burned out from all the new ideas a series of incoming administrators bring to the table. They may feel their voices are not being heard or respected, or they may simply disagree with direction a school is taking or have a personality conflict with school leaders. And some have their own agendas in mind.
Whatever the cause, toxic teachers can wield a negative power in schools, corrupting the culture and causing problems for principals, parents and students. Co-workers may also feel threatened or uncomfortable with the situation, feeling they are forced to take sides, or being bullied or harassed by the toxic teacher or administrator.
Since principals are largely responsible for a school’s culture, it falls on them to do what they can to correct the situation. That may mean removing the employee, but more often, it is better to find ways to work with them to find common ground and common goals, hear their thoughts and react appropriately. In some cases, the response may be a realization that the employee has a point. In others, it may mean resolving a misunderstanding or realizing the administration needs to make a stronger, clearer case for their decisions. Or it may mean a more direct assertion of leadership.
In any case, nothing is ever lost by actually listening to another point of view with an open attitude. It may even result in converting a foe to a fan. And by resolving these types of conflicts, administrators and teachers can have more time to focus on the needs of students.