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Break Barriers That Frustrate You — Building Relationships With Skeptics

As principals, we all have struggled with skeptics in our school. You know the ones I’m talking about. Those teachers who are highly experienced, maybe in their 25th or 30th year of teaching. They are well-versed in their content area. They manage classroom discipline well. They are committed to their students, who generally do well in state testing.

So what’s the problem?  

They aren’t contributing to the culture of the school. It’s like they have dropped out emotionally when it comes to whole-school connections.  They attend faculty meetings, nod when they’re supposed to, but then return to their classrooms and close the door.

In many cases they feel overlooked and under-appreciated. Younger educators so easily jump into using all the shiny new teaching equipment. Nobody wants to listen to the wisdom they have gained from their experience — which produces results just as well.    

How do you connect them to the life of the school in ways that brings them, their students, and their colleagues, value?   

  1. Start by recognizing and celebrating their strengths. In some cases, they have been overlooked for so long, they have forgotten what it feels like to be a valued member of the group. Look for and provide recognition to reinforce their contributions to the school program.
  2. Find out what motivates them and what values they aspire to. Ask them why they chose to become a teacher in the first place and what gives them the most satisfaction when students are successful learners of their content.
  3. Help them reconnect to what drew them into education in the first place.  And then to think about what legacy they want to leave for the children AND for the school program.
  4. Choose them to share with other faculty members their wisdom about classroom management and teaching difficult concepts. Let them share their stories of meaning and success at faculty meetings.

It’s all about giving respect and helping them reconnect to “why” they love being an educator. And as always, you build trusting relationships by listening deeply, assuming positive intent, and asking good questions!    


You’re invited!  We’re hosting a free Zoom call to discuss these, and many other topics, with leaders of breakthrough schools. They’ve been where you are now, and have some great ideas and tips to share. Seats are limited, so register now.