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#1 of 14 Old 08-06-2010, 02:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello fellow teachers and other mamas who could offer some wisdom on this situation/ question:

Would you continue to work at a school where your supervisor undermined your authority with the students?

As in, an assignment is required (high school math at a private school owned/ operated by a private children's home) on my syllabus, and all students have been doing GREAT on it for 3 weeks, and now a few went to my supervisor to say they don't want to do it, and she told them they don't have to. They returned to class, saying, "Ms. B___ says I don't have to do that, and it's a waste of my time!"

So far, I called her and arranged for a sub so we could chat, and we did, and we are not going to see eye to eye on it, but I at least feel I am owed an apology in the presense of the students, or I will have zero authority in their eyes ever again (we work w children from troubled homes, and this is essential in any classroom, but especially here!)

So... what? Would you start making an exit plan? I feel really like I should be here-- it's more than a job-- it is a ministry... I just don't know under what circumstances I would stay or go, I guess...

(Yes, I do realize it is for me to work out, but I'd appreciate anything you mamas could share in the way of support or good ideas that I am not seeing.)

tia
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#2 of 14 Old 08-06-2010, 02:58 PM
 
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Is this the sort of thing your principal does regularly or was this just a one time thing?

Personally, that would be too much for me. I don't think I could continue working in a school where I was disrespected to that degree. That really undermines your authority in front of the students, especially kids in that age group. If it were possible for me to get out, in this sort of situation, I probably would.

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#3 of 14 Old 08-06-2010, 03:03 PM
 
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Did they ask you about not doing the assignment first, or did they just go to her? One of the issues I would have would be if they went right to her and not asked me first.

Is it really essential they do this work? Why do they not want to do it? Is it possible to sit down with the students and come to some sort of compromise about the assignment?

Did you tell the supervisor that you feel undermined? I can totally understand your feelings. I'm also a little worried about the message this sends to the students in general.

Maybe you can still work it out.
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#4 of 14 Old 08-06-2010, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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TY both for your insight.

RE is this the usual behavior-- never before to this degree, but, well, it has been enough of an issue that on my syl this year, I mentioned that I will bring others into the discussion *after* the student comes to me first-- bc last year, I usually did not even know there WAS an issue until I got an upset email from my sup. This seems to be the case this time as well-- no one came to me about it, although, being work and also different from last year, there was initial resistance. So far all who turned one in, got As and Bs, so they are excelling at it and learning lots. (the student who did not turn one in once had left it home-- those who pitched this fit have As on their work so far).

I can't help thinking-- other schools haven't started their school year yet-- I could jump ship. BUT I hate that for many reasons. I am considering semester which brings its own complications...

It's pretty important-- last year we had a high rate of failure in math, and we need to use the curric for at least this year before we can change. It is extra work (hence they don't want to) but they are actually learning and not only succeeding, but they are excelling. My sup likes what I am doing, but says I cannot assign a grade for it nor require it, so it will not happen for the most part, and then we are back to abysmal failure. I feel they are requesting the nearly impossible and then tying one hand behind my back!

I've been thinking of what kind of deal I can work w the students as far as motivation for sticking it out if it's not req-- like passes to the student lounge (there's a wii in there!) or something...

But we still have the problem that I was seriously undercut by my sup-- and how can I work where I am not backed up, and the students will not hear one thing I say for at least the rest of the year as a result-- or as you said-- the msg in general is they do not have to respect the authority of the teacher.
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#5 of 14 Old 08-06-2010, 09:14 PM
 
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No way.

I'd be outta there so fast, I'd leave a cloud of dust.

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#6 of 14 Old 08-07-2010, 09:50 AM
 
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I think if this has happened before and shows no signs of stopping, then you need to speak up for yourself. Is this supervisor the only person who oversees the teaching at your school?

I would probably lay it on the line. Explain what has happened and how this has undermined your authority with these students. If the supervisor won't change, then give your notice.

I worked in a horrible situation for 3 years. I dreaded going into work, had stomach aches, etc. Don't let that happen to you. If you are feeling that this is not right and will not change, make the change for yourself!
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#7 of 14 Old 08-07-2010, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She answers only to her husband who is the director of the entire home. Some of the things she said came directly out of his mouth, iykwim. But it was still her decision to tell students they do not have to do my assignments before consulting me.

I did tell her in our meeting that I feel she undermined my authority, and she said she feels bad about how it came out and will talk to the students about their rude behavior in my class, but to me, they just did what any child would do in this circumstance-- to me, it was her decision that was very wrong, not as much the children's. She also tried to turn it around and say that I undermined the school's authority! (BC there is a policy about failing quizzes, that says if a student fails a quiz, they MUST show notes on the unit-- to me this in no way precludes any teacher from requiring notes to be taken and having weekly "notebook check." It certainly does not say this is the only circumstance under which notes should be taken, grrrr! And I know other teachers who require notes.) btw-- this is the part that came straight from her hubby-- he does this regularly-- find a way that he can twist what you did or said to be the same as what he did wrong. Oy.

To me, it's the same as one parent undercutting the other-- we have to show a united front and come to a decision between the adults, then present it to the children-- plain and simple.

I really do not want to leave here, but I guess I will see whether I get an apology w students present (unlikely). This is our home, community, my job, and seems like we'll lose everything. And now I have guilt if I don't finish the year w these students... on the upside, other schools may still be hiring for this year...
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#8 of 14 Old 08-07-2010, 01:05 PM
 
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I know it is a hard decision and I wish you the best of luck. I wouldn't want to work in the situation you have described, especially since she has a history of doing stuff like this. However, I know how it is to get attached to your students. You might want to check into some other schools just to see what is out there for you. All I can say is good luck in whatever you decide.

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#9 of 14 Old 08-07-2010, 01:24 PM
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I would make an exit plan, and I would make it as quickly as possible - if you can jump to another school for this semester I would do it.

Troubled youth who are living in institutions are just about the most difficult possible population to work with. Presumably, the admin saw the syllabus before it was given to students. If there was an issue, it should have been addressed at that time, and not when a bunch of students decided they didn't want to do the work. She's not just undermining you, she's undermining the students.

It's a tough job market, and I wouldn't quit a job without an offer in hand, but in your shoes, I would be searching for that offer.
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#10 of 14 Old 08-07-2010, 05:14 PM
 
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I'd start making an exit plan sooner rather than later. I don't expect an administrator to blindly support my every decision, but I certainly expect to be brought into a discussion of an assignment and its necessity. I'm sitting here shocked at the image of students being told that some work I assigned is a waste of time.

I'm sorry you have to face this. I always find it hard to leave a group of students to whom I feel I've made a commitment. You deserve to be treated respectfully and as a professional.
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#11 of 14 Old 08-08-2010, 04:33 PM
 
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A very similar thing happened to me. I am a high school government teacher. A prior principal repeatedly undermined my authority with the students in really petty, stupid and unnecessary ways. Because it is a public school and I am represented by the union and tenured, I was able to document everything, and have a stern chat with the principal. It didn't hurt that most of the members of the school board had children that had come though my classes and had stellar experiences. Needless to say, I outlasted the principal although my situation had nothing to do with his departure.

I'd leave that situation and find a better one. I'd also tell your supervisor and his/her supervisor EXACTLY why you're leaving once it's done.
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#12 of 14 Old 08-08-2010, 07:20 PM
 
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I understand why you want to stay and teach these students, but I feel under the circumstances, staying in and of itself teaches the wrong lesson.

To begin with, with the lack of support you aren't going to really be able to teach them what you should. Sure, maybe you might be able to squeeze a bit of math into them with the limitations you've been given, but not as much as they should get. With the current state of affairs though, they are learning a lot more about manipulation than math. They are certainly learning very little about hard work, good negotiating skills (which would have been to come directly to you to discuss their issues with the assignment,) or decent behavior.

The other thing is, that you leaving certainly does teach the students and administrators a good lesson. It teaches the students that they don't just have to put up with being mistreated. It teaches the students to stand up for what is right and not just do what is easy for a paycheck. It teaches the students to go out and find new options if the one they are in is bad. It teaches the administration that if they want good teachers, then they need to support them.

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#13 of 14 Old 08-09-2010, 12:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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TY all for your supportive words. I can't tell you (and likely don't need to bc you're here, too!) how much it can mean just to share my frustrations and joys with other mamas. Especially when I know the right thing to do, but drag my feet for whatever reason.

My friends IRL also are a big support, but it's good to come here and get objective opinions from those not already in my favor, LOL.

You're the best!
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#14 of 14 Old 08-12-2010, 11:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So... no apology, rather a denial (ie NOW she did not tell the kids they don't have to do my assignments, but only said she'd "support the student handbook policy" This is nothing like what even she said in the first place. Oy)

And I also got a SCRIPT that I was required to read to each class! (Her original take was, "I'm sure you'll find a creative way to make this transition with the students") Apparently now I can't even be trusted to tell them about the change.

Very frustrating.

So, I sent out feelers in all the communities where we have a support network, and NOTHING at all. Maybe we do need to stay here.

But, it occured to me as I was calling schools I used to sub for that I could sub again... It's financially unstable, but I already have 3 tutoring students, with a few more prospects, and we have certainly done it before. It seems very counter-intuitive to leave a financially secure position to pursue known borderline poverty, LOL. On the other hand, those dirt-poor times were the happiest years of our lives...

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