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5 Ways to Deal with Negative Teachers

Student drawing sad to happy face

Don't let the negativity from other teachers impact you and spread into your classroom

Dealing with negative teachers in the workplace can be difficult and frustrating. When things become toxic, it's far too easy to get sucked into the negativity. Dealing with teachers who are having an "off day" is one thing, but knowing the steps to avoid true "Negative Nancys" altogether can be difficult.

Here are five ways to deal with negative teachers.

1. Address the Behavior with the Teacher

If you find yourself getting pulled into the negativity at school, remember that it's normal to have negative thoughts. However, the way you deal with or express these thoughts can greatly impact your mood.

Further Reading: 5 Tips to Reframe Negative Thoughts As a Teacher

If you find you have a colleague who's relentlessly negative, the best solution may be to address their negative behavior with them. In fact, consider speaking to them with a group of colleagues who share the same positive attitude as you. Let the teacher know how you feel about their negativity, and offer support and solutions to overcome their negative behavior.

Showing negative teachers that you respect their differences and offering insight into the situation may help alleviate the negativity within an organization.

2. Get Administration Involved

Teachers have the ability to greatly impact the culture of a school, and our attitudes can help or hurt student motivation, achievement, and well-being. If a teacher's negative behavior has progressed to negatively impacting the students, it's time to get administrators involved. They can step in and mediate, depending on the situation. This tactic is best used after you've already spoken to your colleague about their behavior and haven't seen any improvements.

3. Learn to Properly Express Your Own Feelings

Everyone experiences negative thoughts and emotions. But it can be far too easy to let bad vibes overstay their welcome when surrounded by a group of negative teachers. While it's important to build professional relationships with colleagues, keep in mind that there's absolutely a right way to blow off steam.

In addition to being unconstructive, airing your work-related grievances at school can make the problem worse if the source of your frustrations finds out what you've been saying. It's better to find appropriate outlets for your feelings than get caught in the trap of workplace negativity.

4. Remove Yourself from the Situation

One of the easiest and most effective ways to deal with negative teachers is removing yourself from the situation. In my experience, the teacher's lounge is one of the main areas where negativity can build and disrupt workplace dynamics. I've been in situations where I chose to eat in my classroom because the teacher's lounge was too toxic for my liking.

Although you might feel like you're isolating yourself by staying away from certain teachers, it's important to know what's best for you and your students. After all, students pick up on your behavior, and if you've been exposed to or engaged in negativity, it can affect their behavior and learning.

5. Don't Let Go of Your Own Positivity

Teaching isn't easy—it's very normal to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or upset. But how we handle our emotions can greatly impact our teaching, our relationships, and ultimately our students. It's a necessary skill to be able to shift any negative thoughts into positive ones. This may be easier said than done, but these three tactics are a start.

  • Surround yourself with positive people, both in and outside of school.
  • Find a creative outlet that helps you relieve stress and feel rejuvenated.
  • Maintain a positive mind-set by learning to turn your negative thoughts into positive ones. Positive thoughts increase your mood, improve your thinking, and help you and your colleagues have a more positive workplace environment.

Further Reading: The 3 Cs for Creating an Engaged and Positive Classroom Culture

Instead of being a "Negative Nancy," be a "Positive Penelope." Focus on the positive, and be the best teacher you can be. The effects will be evident not only in the classroom, but in every aspect of your life.