Why do some teachers feel leaders have favourites?

It’s not just students who feel teachers have favourites – teachers can feel this too.

Rightly or wrongly, this is what some teachers conclude. I have been wondering why and think it could be because of:

* lack of transparency in decision making,
* teachers not being included in big picture thinking,
* lack of timely communication and education about new initiatives,
* lack of consultation between leaders and teachers,
* stronger connections between leaders and some teachers,
* a perception that leaders approve more of teaching styles / thinking that mirror their own,
* time is unfairly allocated for face to face discussions due to logistics and existing structures,
* some teachers feel “corporate memory” predetermines their chances of being seen in a new light,
* different needs and personalities of teachers make some seek leaders’ attention more than others,
* a lack of understanding amongst leaders of what is really happening in teams,
* a lack of understanding amongst teachers of what leaders really understand,
* leadership styles versus teacher needs,
* time poor leaders can mean hasty decision making,
* previous experience with a leader or leaders,
* assumptions about how one will be perceived,
* personal issues,
* perceived differences in expectations for different people.

As leaders we can spend more time with some teachers than others – this is partly due to the structures set up to facilitate communication between different levels.
As humans we tend to spend more time with people we have things in common with professionally- like a shared passion for encouraging student ownership of their learning- and personally.

Whose responsibility is it to fix this perception of favouritism?

The responsibility for addressing this perception of favouritism lies with both leaders and teachers, but more so with leaders as we are the ones who can be seen to be doing more about it.

What can I do?
* Build relationships with everyone – this is an important step in building a culture where people feel they are being treated equally.
* Push aside any preconceived ideas I may have – people experience changes in circumstances, shifts in their thinking and do change as a result.
* Listen to understand- everyone needs to feel they have a voice and it is being heard.
* Create a safe and welcoming environment to open the lines of communication in all directions.
* Create opportunities for differences of opinion to be aired and clarified.
* Invest the time to get to know every teacher and leader – at our school, we believe every teacher should make every effort to know their learners. Likewise, leaders should make every effort to KNOW their teachers – interests, aspirations, passions, dreams, goals, challenges, etc.
* I can aim for informed and considered decision making and this means including all stake holders.
* Ensure all teachers feel valued.
* Role model fairness.
* Reflect daily on how I treated all who came my way.

What do other leaders do?

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4 thoughts on “Why do some teachers feel leaders have favourites?

  1. Interesting post… although I don’t quite understand what you mean by some of the dot points in the first section.Might need a bit of elaboration 🙂

    In my role as Teaching and Learning Coordinator, I’d happily work in the same way with ALL the teachers, but they don’t all want me to. I tend to end up working more with the ones who seek me out. It tends to be the same teachers (right across the school) who share their teaching and learning, ask for support, invite me in, engage me in their learning, respond to my invitations… and I would’t presume to insist that others work with me if they don’t want to. I wonder if that is perceived as favouritism from the outside?

    I ran a session for new (ish) teachers last week and offered to meet with any of them individually to follow up on their personal questions and issues. Two out of seven responded. If I only meet with those, does it look like favouritism?

    When it comes to professional learning, we’ll offer everyone the same opportunities, but many don’t bother to reply. The same teachers, those excited by learning, willing to give up time, aware of what they might gain are the ones who tend to put their names down to participate in things and to thoughtfully explain their rationale, so they might end up being chosen over others who don’t seem to care (even when approached). Is that perceived as favouritism?

    One team leader asked me jokingly about my relationship with one of her young team members, implying some favouritism on my part. The truth is I was given the task of mentoring the young teacher (new to the school) so my job has been to give him more attention. Beyond that though, he always responds when I email him with questions, ideas and resources, while his team leader never does. So if I engage more with him, is that favouritism?

    I think favouritism might be in the eye of the beholder….

  2. As a teacher we accept that a class is made up of different personalities. There are:
    the students who are confident to share with anyone and everyone,
    the students who always seek you out for feedback on how they are doing,
    the students who, on the surface, don’t seem very excited by the learning but are actually still incubating their ideas,
    the students who prefer to share and learn from their interactions with other students,
    the quieter, less confident about sharing students who need a one on one conversation initiated by the teacher in order to bring give them the confidence to particpate and
    the students who have emotional stuff going on and who will come on board when things are already in motion.
    As a teacher it is my responsibility to recognise where each of my students is at and put bridges in place for each so that the opportunities can be taken up by all.

    The same applies to a group of teachers.

  3. Mostly I agree. That’s why it was so lovely to have different teachers present at our in-school teachmeet, as a result of being approached personally, rather than just via a general group email.
    But it’s more complex than that 🙂

  4. Hi Both,
    I agree with both here, and have certainly been ‘accused’ (maybe too strong a word) of having favuourites. Edna is right in that those that are deemed to be getting more attention are those who are asking for it. They are the ones who are knocking on the door, asking for support, putting hands up for PLCs and extra duties.
    However, reflecting on this post as DP and PYPC I do have some responsibility in ensuring I continue to open doors (Metaphorically and in reality) to all others.
    We are all human, and most of us leadership came from the classroom – we are social beings and educators thus it is in our nature to build relationships, and we build them with those we work with. This does not mean other relationships are not possible.
    Yes, favoritism is in the eye of the beholder, but I can be breaking down some of these perceptions and barriers – even as to sitting and having lunch with someone new.
    We continue to ask all for input and for contributions – but I guess as the leadership member silence is not OK , and we should be following up with some of our quieter members – at least the doors will be knocked on….if not opened..
    A great reflection for me.
    Thank you

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