Resolving Staff-Principal Concerns
Staff members must be able to rely on each other and resolve their differences. There are too many pressures on educators today to allow staff-principal conflicts to erode the professional harmony that is a necessity in every effective school.
To reduce the possibility of problems, the principal should involve staff in the early stages of certain issues. Differences of opinion are, however, inevitable.
Addressing the Issues
If the problem has to do with school policies and practices, such as the code of conduct, introduce the topic at a staff meeting. Be professional. Focus on the issue and joint problem solving. Avoid personal criticisms of the school administration.
If the issue is an individual matter, such as an assignment, request a meeting with the principal. Consider contacting Professional Relations Services (PRS) at ETFO and/or the local president. It may be advisable to have a federation representative present in the meeting.
Do not assume that conflict with the principal means you are being harassed. If you feel you are being treated unfairly, consult with PRS first to check out your perceptions and options. Your board’s harassment policy may apply, and/or your collective agreement may contain language allowing you to grieve the alleged harassment.
Involving the Superintendent
In situations involving a group of staff, the superintendent should not become involved until the staff members have made every attempt to communicate their concerns to the principal. If staff members feel their concerns have not been understood or addressed, they should contact federation before taking any further action.
Although principals are not members of the federation and are not subject to the OTF code of ethics, the professionalism of the staff, and the manner in which sensitive issues are addressed, are important.
All teachers and principals are members of the (OCT), and the professional misconduct regulation clearly addresses the issue of professionalism. Alleged violations of the regulation are subject to the College’s investigation and discipline procedures.
Role of the Local President
Members should contact the ETFO local president to discuss a situation. The president may try to help members by:
Tips for Resolving Conflicts
When attempting to resolve an individual or group conflict, take a step back and try to:
Working Together to Find Solutions
Teachers and principals must work together, using the strengths and ideas of all staff members to create the best possible working and learning environment.
Staff members must try to work with the principal to improve the working and learning environment. Change may be gradual. If, however, there is no commitment to change, and if staff members believe that the situation is causing them to be less effective in their jobs, the federation should be contacted for assistance.
When staff and the principal jointly agree to involve the superintendent and/or the federation, they are showing a willingness to explore the situation.
Sometimes, with the support and commitment of all involved, an outside facilitator can be an effective in helping school staff in resolving their problems. Everyone must be willing to be part of the solution and consider compromises and reasonable alternatives.
For further information on conflict management, see ETFO’s publication, After the chalk dust settles, available from shopETFO.
Members are advised to consult Professional Relations staff in Protective Services at 416- 962-3836 or 1-888-838-3836 for additional advice.