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10 “Commandments” for Dealing Positively With Challenging Teachers

Posted on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 @ 15:07 PM

principalMost of the teachers we work with make us proud to call ourselves educators. They are intelligent, dedicated to their students, and work tirelessly, often without thanks, to ensure that our school remains a positive learning environment.

But we’re not going to talk about these kinds of teachers today…no, we’re going to talk about what author and veteran principal Elaine McEwan-Adkins refers to as the “elephant in the room”—the kind of teacher that everyone knows is there, but “few are willing to confront…for fear of getting trampled.” These sorts of teachers may be few and far between, but when left to their own devices, they can wreak havoc on our students, staff and on the entire culture of the school.  

Before we can deal productively with difficult teachers, though, we must first examine our own attitudes and behaviors—the things we habitually think, say, and do. We found McEwan-Adkins’s 10 "Commandments" for Dealing with Difficult Teachers to be a useful place to start the self-reflection process:

  • Thou shalt treat all teachers with dignity and respect, regardless of their personal or professional problems.

  • Thou shalt not harass, threaten, intimidate, or humiliate teachers either in public or private

  • Thou shalt document all actions, discussions, and confrontations with teachers clearly and accurately

  • Thou shalt give explicit, direct, and honest feedback to teachers in a quiet, calm, and confident way

  • Thou shalt not share information about teachers unless the conversations occur with the superintendent, the district’s legal counsel, or the board of education in a closed session

  • Thou shalt provide clear and definitive expectations in any directives or requests to teachers

  • Thou shalt never subject teachers to the silent treatment or attempt to isolate them from the life of the school

  • Thou shalt make all decisions regarding teachers based on the best interests of the students, the mission of the school, and the welfare of the entire school community

  • Thou shalt never become defensive with teachers

  • Thou shalt never become aggressive or hostile to teachers


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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, educational leaders, Challenging Teachers

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