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How to Positively Impact the Teacher Culture at Your School

good teacher culture in a classroom

Teacher culture at a school can be difficult to navigate. Cliques, tense relationships with administration, negativity; these can all make the already hard work of teaching extra hard, and sometimes lonely. But you can impact the teacher culture at school for the better, and it doesn't have to be complicated. 

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Navigating Cynicism among teachers

School culture can be really intense among teachers. So how do we move away from cynicism and toward building a better culture? We are defining cynicism as the tendency to look at a situation and assume it is worse than it is. Sometimes it is realistic, but with a negative perspective. In the midst of cynicism, it's hard to have hope or to see the good in the situation.

Sometimes we're just discouraged or we feel defeated by the situation, and it can be really difficult, especially for those of us that like to fix things. The most powerful thing to do is just to step back. That means you should pray, surrender it to God, and then turn on the praise music. When we turn our minds to Him while the problems seem so big, it can change everything. It's not that we forget the problem exists, but we remind ourselves how big God is, how in control He is. He's our Shepherd. He's with us. And often, the problem just shrinks, which doesn't mean it goes away. It's still there, but it's put in its proper perspective. 

It helps, too, to think about things that aren't school or do things outside of school so we can remember that school is not our whole life. Things at school can feel so huge, but in the grand scheme of things, they might be smaller than we realize. It might be hard and heavy while we are at school, but when we put it into the context of our life, it can shrink as well.

Seeing the whole teacher

This can also be helpful when we think about going outward to helping other teachers gain perspective and avoid cynicism. We have to balance not dismissing people's pain, because part of why teachers get so cynical is because they don't feel heard. Consequently, they have to blast all the negativity out because they just want someone to make them feel heard. Listening and being a space for people to be heard and seen is important, but then we must also encourage people beyond that part. Sometimes that is as simple as inviting people to events outside of school or to think of things other than school and not even directly, saying, "You need to have a better perspective." 

It can be very easy to get sucked into thinking school is everything. That is why having a meaningful life outside of school and good boundaries can be a small way to indirectly help some of those big feelings.

It can also help to have someone to talk to about things. Sometimes we do need to just process it, to get it out there. So recognizing- if that's what this person needs, if they're venting to us, sometimes there is space for that, depending on what it looks like. But then we don’t want to stay there.

Lamenting in your School culture

So how do we keep from staying stuck in our thinking about our troubles biblically so we can help others and improve our teacher culture? Lament is the way God asks us to handle our troubles. It is demonstrated often in the Bible, in Psalms and Lamentations especially, but also in some of the prophets and in other places. Lament is something our Christian culture has missed or moved away from and is starting to come back to.

The idea is that we face our sorrows, troubles, and the things that cause us grief. We face them and bring them to the Lord, because the things that make us cynical are usually things that grieve us, bringing pain and disappointment. The Lord wants us to bring all of those things to Him. Lament is the biblical way of bringing these things to Him.

First, we turn to the Lord. Second, we bring our complaints to him. Third, we ask boldly for the Lord to hear us, to change our circumstances, and to change us. Lastly, we leave it in God's hands with trust. 

To learn more about lament, check out this podcast episode where we explore lament and prayers for teachers. 

Handling Teacher Clique Culture

Another issue with teacher culture is that it can be intense and clique-y. The way people work together, or don’t work well together, can create enemies and form tight but exclusive bonds. Many teachers have asked, "How do I deal with feeling so alone? These teachers don’t talk to me. I don’t feel included. They don’t invite me to things or they invite me, but then don’t talk to me." These are hard things to navigate.

Firstly, bringing this to God is prayer is the most important step, as it always should be. Ask Him to help you not take things too personally, even though it can feel real. This is easier said than done, but the less we take things personally, the better. Sometimes, people are being rude, but other times, we read more into situations than is actually there, taking more offense than there even is. We have to guard against that by putting our confidence in who we are in Christ, so we can enter these situations without so much hurt and vulnerability.

Secondly, finding common ground with others, even in small ways, can help. Maybe there's a shared interest or a project where you can collaborate. Small gestures of kindness can also make a difference. It’s about being proactive in creating a more inclusive atmosphere, even if it's just in small steps. Be willing to pursue those relationships.

Thirdly, seeking support outside of school can be crucial. Having friends or mentors you can talk to about your experiences can provide a much-needed outlet and perspective, helping you navigate the complexities of your work environment with more resilience.

Final Thoughts

The last way to improve your teacher culture at school is to embrace the fact that a welcoming environment can make a big difference. Whether it's your classroom or a shared space, creating a place where others feel comfortable and cared for can be very impactful.

Start with inviting and serving without expecting a relationship in return, doing it for the Lord, and knowing that the Lord smiles upon those acts of kindness. When you invite people and extend generosity without expecting anything back, you're doing it unto Him. Giving without expecting a return is difficult and involves much prayer. Pray as you invite, as you wait for a response, through the response, and through the aftermath, because what we do unto the Lord, He counts as valuable.

Then, remember that this doesn't necessarily solve the problem of human relationships, but it solves the deeper issue. The Lord is with you wherever you go, which means that even when we feel alone, the Lord is there and sees us. The truth of the Lord being near to us, especially when we're brokenhearted, is powerful. 

When your coworkers break your heart, He is near to you and wants to heal you and help you grow. Caring about people, even if they don't care in return, and inviting people, is important because it fosters a sense of God's presence and His care for you, making you more sensitive to His love and support even in challenging circumstances.

Teach Uplifted

For more encouragement to impact the culture of your school by banish your stress and teach with joy!

Sometimes trusting God is easier said than done. So how exactly do we make that happen? In Teach Uplifted, we'll learn to trust in God and rest in His goodness with these three steps: 

  • Discover what the Bible says about God’s incredible work in your life so that you can stop stressing and start resting in His promises.
  • Meditate on God’s goodness, sovereignty, and grace so that these truths sink down into your heart & change the way you think & respond.
  • Abide in Christ so that His joy & grace shine through you each day in the classroom.
Learn how to teach uplifted

heRZOG FOUNDATIoN

The Herzog Foundation exists to catalyze and accelerate the development of quality Christ-centered K-12 education so that families and culture flourish. Their award-winning, online news publication “The Lion” is a must-read for families and teachers everywhere. The Lion carries timely, critical, and trustworthy articles about everything happening in the realm of education. But The Lion aspects of education, parenting, family life, faith, and government. The Lion provides Daily and Weekly email newsletters, so you never miss an article.

Just like its namesake, 'The Lion' embodies strength and courage, offering a beacon of hope in a landscape where too many falter, surrendering their children's education to ideologies of the left. Don’t miss the latest in education and cultural news at Read Lion.

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