It’s All About Relationships

Lesley Schultz • December 2022String Section • December 15, 2022

SBO+: Normally, Lesley writes for SBO+ about orchestra and string teaching, but this month she shares important thoughts about relationship building. This ties in nicely with Rick Ghinelli’s article in our September 2022 issue, “Be a Superhero to Your Administrators.”

Every single one of the 50 educators honored in this month’s issue has relationships with their colleagues, both music and otherwise. Just like in our personal relationships, with friends, family, and significant others, we need to work at relationships with many colleagues. How you approach these relationships can help your career and your programs achieve even greater success. It takes time and effort from both sides to build these relationships, and they shouldn’t be ignored. Here are some tips to help.

First, try to have a good working relationship with at least one teacher from each department. Just having one teacher in a department that you can speak to when you have a question about something you are seeing or to get their opinion on can be golden. This can also lead to great collaboration for cross-curricular activities. The way to build a good relationship is to make sure you aren’t getting stuck in a rut during professional development days. Do your best to get outside your normal group and comfort zone and maybe meet a few people. Sometimes this is done for us in professional development, but not always. Just being seen in a group as another teacher can pay dividends later in having good relationships.

Second, build good relationships with administration at both the building and the district level. We are one of the most visible “products” of any school along with athletic teams. Make sure you are inviting all district level and building level administration to your concerts. Invite board members to your concerts. They like to be formally invited. Building good relationships with administration can go a long way when you are dealing with a particularly difficult student or parent situation, or if there is a conflict in the schedule. Try to solve as many minor issues as you can without getting admin involved, that way when you really need them, they are there and hopefully in your corner. 

Third, build rapport with your athletic department. Realize that today’s students are busier than ever, and often music and athletics involve the same students. They can do it all, if everyone is flexible. Work with your athletic department to come up with a policy of which events students should attend based on what it is, ex. Student attends a concert over an athletic practice, but would attend a game over an after-school rehearsal. Don’t put the students in the middle, this is a matter between adults, and their relationship. Try to go through the athletic director or the head of Athletics, dealing with each individual coach is too much of your precious time. This relationship might take time to build, and you have to compromise to make it relationship work.

Building relationships takes time, but is worthwhile, and can only set your programs on an even better path to success.

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