Everyday, educators make hundreds of decisions — some thoughtfully planned and others almost automatic — about how and when to connect with children. We validate Malika for taking turns at the water table and comfort Kai when his dad leaves. These decisions, big and small, shape our relationships with children and what they learn about themselves, each other, and the world around them. Through our relationships and interactions, we have a huge impact on children’s lives.

How often do we think about our impact on adults, specifically those we work with or supervise? Do we consider how our impact on colleagues influences our impact on children?

Supportive relationships with your colleagues will contribute to high quality early learning environments for children. A positive work environment will help attract qualified teachers and foster greater success with children. However, many educators feel burdened by increasing demands and expectations, and this pressure can lead to feelings of stress that undermine a productive professional learning community.

Building professional relationships can be more challenging than developing friendships. Friendships spark from a shared connection and take off quickly from there. Professional relationships, on the other hand, require extra effort to build mutual trust and respect around shared work experiences and goals. This can be especially difficult in supervisory relationships. With professional relationships, it’s important to recognize and appreciate different styles of communicating, reflecting, interacting and problem-solving. By appreciating all of your colleagues’ differences, you will promote a more positive, creative workplace community that taps into the collective wisdom of all its members.

Take a Moment for Yourself – Reflect on these questions individually.

  • Consider ways that you had an impact on your colleagues today. Is this something you can consider every day, to improve your relationships?
  • In what ways do you encourage colleagues so that they become more self- aware of their strengths?

Take a Moment with a Partner ‑ Reflect on these questions as a pair.

  • Consider ways you can nurture professional relationships with colleagues, even those you may find challenging.
  • In what ways do you demonstrate an attitude that invites open conversation and values partnership?

Take a Moment with Your Program – Reflect on these questions as a team.

  • Consider what it would mean to you to be in a supportive workplace that activates curiosity as a professional learning community.
  • As you interact with colleagues, in what ways do you let them know you see, hear and value them?

Let’s learn from each other. Please jot your thoughts and questions in the Comments. Thanks –

Judy Jablon and Helga Yuan Larsen