Education Opinion

Friends as Colleagues

By LeaderTalk Contributor — August 28, 2009 1 min read
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Nothing can be done in a school district without the help from several people, especially, if what is being done, is a district wide initiative. This statement has been proven true countless times this summer as my district rolls out a new student information system. The transition has been a bumpy one, but I believe the benefits will outweigh the challenges in the long run.

While embarking on this particular new journey, the patience of all of the administrators and guidance staff was tested. They spent incalculable hours learning how to use the program, and, along the way, encountered problems that created stress for them, consequently impacting and strengthening our collegial relationships.

Reflecting on this process created a new level of awareness for me regarding the challenges of working closely with people who are also friends. As an administrator, you do not want to be accused of abusing the friendship just so you can advance an initiative. This is especially touchy when the person is someone that you directly supervise or anyone who is not at the same “level” as you. So, what do you do?

It is inevitable that, as social creatures, administrators will make friends of people they supervise, especially if they are building level administrators. The help of a friend and/or colleage is invaluable; therefore, boundaries must be developed between being a professional colleague and being a friend. Although I have spent time reflecting on this and have tried to brainstorm the ways to continue maintaining a professional relationship while being a friend, the only suggestion I could arrive at is the following: Invest quality time before and after any “favor” to show that you genuinely care about your colleagues, who may also be your friends. This, however, cannot be the only suggestion...What are you thoughts on such a difficult topic?

James Yap and Teresa Ivey ( A friend and colleague that helped me write on this difficult topic)

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