How To Handle A Bossy Colleague Smart Classroom Management


It could be a grade-level leader or department chair, co-teacher or seen-it-all veteran, or maybe a friend who teaches in the room next door.

But we’ve all been there.

We’ve all been annoyed by the bossy colleague who is constantly giving advice and pushing you to do things their way.

Perhaps they mean well, but you find yourself avoiding them, walking on eggshells around them, and appeasing them out of your hair. It stresses you out and adds more burden to an already challenging job.

No matter how much you try to gently discourage them, nothing changes.

And nothing will change unless you do this one thing. It’s a strategy that works fast but takes a dose of courage. It works with everyone, even the scariest mandrill of the troop.

So what is it?

It’s to calmly and respectfully repeat the same phrase whenever they begin pressuring you to do (or teach) anything you don’t want to do.

“No, I’m not going to do that.”

That’s it. That’s all you have to say. But there is magic in those words. They have the power to set a boundary that after one or two subsequent tries your bossy colleague will never cross again.

Now, if they follow up by asking why not, just say “It’s a good idea, but not right for me.” There is no need to go on and on or explain further. It’s best to let your words hang in the air or change the subject into something positive.

“I heard there’s cake in the teachers’ lounge.”

Then move on. Again, it takes some pluck. The longer they’ve been influencing you and taking you under their wing, the harder it is to make a stand. But if you’re firm as a redwood yet still remain kind and lighthearted in manner, then it will work.

They’ll ease up on the pressure and (hopefully) you can still remain friends. Yes, there is a chance they’ll get offended, which is a shame but not your problem.

You have to stand up for yourself in this profession to avoid the kind of stress that will cause you to quit teaching.

Speaking up can feel awkward and the last thing you want to do. But the discomfort is only for a few minutes then gone forever. Even in the worst case scenario – your colleague is taken aback and upset – they’ll respect you, maybe for the first time.

They’ll begin to view you as a strong, independent, and competent teacher who doesn’t need their constant input.

Say your piece, then be the same caring person. There is no reason to be standoffish or try to teach them a lesson. Stay on the high road. Wave hello and good morning when you see them. Ask about their family and weekend.

But always, with everyone, maintain and defend your personal and professional boundaries.

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