Our coworkers can be our lifeline, and they can also be shiny, poisonous apples of toxicity. When this happens, the school environment can be extremely hazardous to our mental health, and which can be hard to avoid when professional learning communities require us to be in the presence of a perilous colleague.
The relationships of coworkers impede or help the overall morale in a school setting. Negativity can trickle down to students and affect student-teacher relationships.
There are 10 main types of toxic coworkers that everyone in every building can probably recognize. If you cannot, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
Top 10 Toxic Coworkers
1. The Tattle Tale
This coworker gains your trust and then spies quietly in group conversations and meetings. As soon as a school policy or procedure is criticized, they hurtle over backpacks and knock down kindergartners in their journey to get this information back to the school administrator.
2. The Guilt Tripper
This toxic teacher makes comments about colleagues not staying late or coming early to work, regardless of family situations or circumstances. They write pages of color-coded lesson plans and grade every single paper and expect their fellow teachers to do the same.
We feel “less than” every time we are in their presence.
3. The Mean Girl or Boy
This teacher brings more drama than a Kardashian reality show finale and sits at the cool table in the Teachers’ Lounge. Yes, there is a cool table.
Menacing teachers make others feel like outcasts and that their opinions are unimportant. They haven’t left high school behind, and they tend to be teacher bullies.
4. The Over-Doer
This teacher volunteers for everything and anything they possibly can. They take on too many clubs, volunteer to cover meetings, and then complain about it ALL. They expect to be rewarded greatly for their extra duties, and when they aren’t, they become bitter and hostile.
5. The One-Upper
Our rooms are decorated, and we are proud. The “one-uppers” come into our classrooms and explain how they have constructed a full three-level reading loft set to a jungle theme.
We walk away defeated and feel like we need to drive to the nearest Home Depot for lumber.
6. The “It’s Your fault” Teacher
These are the first-grade teachers who blame the kindergarten teachers, the high school teachers who blame the middle school teachers, and the middle school teachers who blame the elementary school teachers for not preparing the students whom they are now teaching.
Passing the buck and responsibility is not helpful for anyone.
7. The Kiss-Up
This type of teacher’s goal is to be the principal’s favorite. They bring their boss Starbucks, laugh at all their corny jokes and nod their heads yes when the admin piles on extra paperwork at staff meetings.
8. The Cat Burglar
This is the teacher that stops by your classroom once a year to borrow something and you never see them or the item again.
They target black Sharpies, “good” staplers, fun classroom activities, and chocolate anything.
9. The Debbie Downer
It’s one thing to vent, but when everything that comes out of your mouth is negative and directed towards others, a line is crossed.Debbie Downers have a huge dark cloud that circles overhead and involves everyone that gets too close in a torrential downpour without an umbrella.
10. The Narcissist
This colleague posts every accolade, accomplishment or teacher award they receive immediately to social media. Blowing one’s own horn is fine, but an occasional “honk, honk” to a teacher bestie is much better than a constant flow of bragging posts.
At times, we can all be guilty of a small degree of toxicity. But it’s important to remember that we are the best source of mental and career assistance for our teacher colleagues. We are dealing with the same problems, and empathy is essential for morale and a healthy educational environment. A small dose of kindness goes a long way.