Students are the easy part of teaching. Students are easy to like. Students do not know it all, and really are able to act like curious learners easily. Adults however, can be a challenge. Adults are often scared to not know things. Many times adults work harder to keep hidden that they do not know something. It is the rare, beautifully, valuable adult who can curiously learn.

And because of that difference between students and adults, some educators find it difficult to deal with other adults who are not successful or efficient at their job. There are many adults in the school building or district. To be happy in a teacher’s job one has to maintain positive relationships with all the adults work there. There is a Competence Gap. And you need to know how to navigate it.

Dealing with a Competence Gap

There are several groups which do not have the same point of view as the classroom teacher. Custodial staff who are insistent on when certain tasks or maintenance must be preformed. Technicians who may not want to interface with others and prefer to fix or install items without talking to the teacher. Sometimes even paraprofessionals or itinerate teachers do not have the same point of view as a classroom teacher and may make perplexing choices to the classroom teacher. Many of these misunderstandings can be immediately resolved by talk to the person. However, if you find that person is not doing what they should be doing – or not doing it well enough so as to not impact your ability to do your job – you may need to take action.

Don’t Tattle

Remember, you aren’t the students. If another adult impacts your job adversely, you do not run to the Principal and tattle. You talk to that adult as soon as possible. You name what they did and then you share how that impacted you adversely. If they do not offer a response, you ask them not to do that again.

Stay Calm

Just like with difficult students or parents, there is no reason to expect other adults who do not know how to do something well or quickly are going to respond to a raised voice or aggressive body language. If you think you may not be able to remain in control of your emotions, ask to talk to them tomorrow.


Hopefully, you can reach a positive resolution. However, if that does not happen it is time to document the original incident, the action you took to try and correct it, and then anything else which happens after that. If you ever have to share this documentation with a superior it would be important that you documented things as they occurred. It isn’t something you write-up the day before you walk into someone’s office.


Your job and comfort in your school is important. Do not allow these bothers to build or, but also do not look for mole hills to turn into mountains – others want to be happy in their jobs as well.