In the early days of American education when schools were small, with very many having but one room, the teacher was largely isolated. He worked alone, removed from other colleagues and without supervision or direction except what came from the parents of his children or from the local trustees. The teacher of today, on the other hand, is far more likely to find himself in a large building. Here there is very often a superintendent and far away. There are principals, department heads, special teachers of many kinds, supervisors, health and social workers, custodians, members of the business staff, and of course, the many other teachers of the same subject, field, or grade with whom proper working relationships must be established.In teaching, as well as in business, the matter of getting along with others is of great importance. Some teachers fail to realize this or are unable to do it. As a result of this inability to co-operate with others, even though their classroom work is good, too many teachers find themselves unhappy and their positions untenable.

The teacher’s first professional obligation is to the chief executive officer who is generally the superintendent. Of course, in a system of any size the lines of responsibility are through the principal and supervisors. The teacher should beware of accepting a position where it is evident that the choice of personnel is not in the hands of these officers. When the members of the board do more than accept the recommendations of the superintendent, it is generally an indication of the weakness of the professional position of the latter.

The teacher must be familiar with the organization of the school system in which he works. This is frequently made clear by charts and explanations in manual which are furnished to teachers in many districts but, in the absence of such, consultations with fellow teachers or supervisors will generally clarify one’s professional obligations. All too often difficulties arise because personnel rights and obligations are not make clear to those concerned. The teacher will find much help in this connection in the Code of Ethics of the National Education Association, printed in Chapter 7 of this volume.

Every teacher has the right to receive constructive and sympathetic supervision and in return has the obligation

(1) to accept helpful criticism where it is apparent it will mean the professional improvement of the teacher’s work, and

(2) to co- operate wholeheartedly is accomplishing the objectives which have been set. In all personal relations with others on the staff, it is of the utmost significance that the interests of children are kept foremost. Where it is evident that such is not the case the right to appeal to the next higher authority should be recognized, proper notice of such appeal being given as a matter of professional ethics.


The new teacher in a large organization will not always find getting off to a good start an easy matter. Sometimes very little is done to help him. All too frequently he is given the textbooks, the roster, the list of students assigned, and perhaps the course of study. That may be all. On the other hand, in some schools there is a carefully planned orientation program, with special meetings and activities for new teachers. Elsewhere, schools, in addition to this, assign the new teacher more or less closely to another experienced person as a sort of big brother or sister. Here friendly counsel and advice can easily be found. Some communities also bring in members of the parent-teacher association and on rare occasions business people to make the new teacher feel at home.In far too many schools, though, the new teacher gets the heaviest load ad the worst assignments; but more and more superintendents are realizing that this is bad administration. The first task of any teacher is to do an outstanding piece of work in the classroom. One’s record in this matter spreads quickly and respect grows among one’s colleagues. Hence, it is well to keep other aspects of one’s work in positions of relative importance, doing first things first. In this manner, progress toward the attainment of the goals of the schools can best be achieved.

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