How do I handle this? (long read but would greatly appreciate help)

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ZoeMarie, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. ZoeMarie

    ZoeMarie Rookie

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    Feb 4, 2018

    I am not tenured, this is my second year teaching. I teach preschool.

    Last week I was asked to come in for a meeting relating to the "preschool classroom". When I got there I was surprised to find out that one of the aides in my classroom complained about me. I have been trying to work things out with her but I didn't think our working relationship was so poor that she would complain to the principal and I'd be called in for a meeting.

    Before the meeting:

    Basically, when I tell my aide what strategies she should be using to support her students in my classroom she becomes visibly uncomfortable and upset. I always try to say it in the most kind way possible and need to be able to openly communicate with my aide. I really like her as a person and she does a good job when she is following my instructions. Sometimes she decides to use different strategies that I do not feel work as well, does not communicate important information to me, and interrupts when I am speaking to parents (or talks to parents of students that are not her responsibility without me there). I have been doing my best to take the high road, and pick my battles.

    The biggest issue is that she was spending special periods, entire periods, talking with other aides instead of supporting her students. Any time another adult came in my room she would sit to the side and talk to them. This I had to bring up immediately. When I pulled her aside to speak privately I explained how important it is to stay with and support students during specials and when in class. I told her I understand we all have busy lives and it is okay to take a minute or two to talk but then we have to get back to our students who need us so much. Even though I could tell she was upset all she said was okay with a huge smile on her face. I asked her if there was anything she wanted to talk about and she said no and practically ran out of the room to join the class in art.

    At the meeting I shared this situation and it didn't seem like my aide had told the principal about this.

    Unfortunately, another aide had complained about me before her. This aide was covering my current aide on medical leave. She and I did not get along and I wish I had gone to the principal about it earlier. She would openly yell at me in front of my students that "she has 9 years experience she knows what she's doing" when I would try to talk to her about strategies to use with her students.

    At the meeting:
    The big issue seemed to be that my aide feels "left out". She didn't make it into a project that I displayed. This is an honest mistake. She's not listed in the class photo because she was on medical leave. I didn't know it was my responsibility to make sure the aide's name was accounted for on the class photo. Another honest mistake.

    I tried to remain calm although I was very upset. I explained that I never want anyone to feel left out when they are in my classroom and that I would do my best to fix it. At first I wanted to talk to her privately but emailed later to ask for the guidance counselor to be part of the conversation (this had been suggested to me at the meeting).

    Am I going to be fired over this? What steps should I take to fix this?
     
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  3. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Feb 4, 2018

    I don't think you are going to be fired over this. It sounds like you have already had a meeting about the issue? I'm not sure if I'm missing something, but wasn't this all resolved in the meeting with the aid? She wasn't present at the meeting? If you haven't apologized for leaving her out of the project (even though she was on medical leave), I guess apologize for that? Honestly, it sounds like a bunch of drama that everyone is aware of now. So keep being professional and just make sure you include her in everything, whether she is present or not.
     
  4. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    Feb 4, 2018

    I agree with the previous comment. I don't think this is a fireable offense. But I would make a list and descriptions of the conversations you had. Bring documentation to support your claim that you have tried to work and resolve this in-house.
     
  5. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    Feb 4, 2018

    From what you wrote I don't think your job is in jeopardy. Usually admins side with the teacher over the aides. Is this aide a 1:1 or classroom aide?
     
  6. ZoeMarie

    ZoeMarie Rookie

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    Feb 4, 2018

    She is a shared aide so she has two students.
     
  7. ZoeMarie

    ZoeMarie Rookie

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    Feb 4, 2018

    Thank you. That is a good idea.
     
  8. ZoeMarie

    ZoeMarie Rookie

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    Feb 4, 2018

    Sorry for the confusion. The conversation that I had with the aide about talking during specials was about a week before I was called in for the meeting with the principal. The project she was here for. The class picture she was not.
     
  9. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Feb 4, 2018

    Throughout most of my teaching career, I had so many awful instructional aides that it would often have been preferable not to have had any aide assigned to me at all! The worst aides seem to have several things in common: 1) they have several years of aide experience and have often worked at the school much longer than the teacher, 2) they purposely refrain from communicating openly with the teacher, 3) they do not respond well to being given specific instructions from the teacher, 4) they often lack knowledge of alternative instructional strategies, 5) they often have a close working relationship with the principal and because of their willingness to help with schoolwide projects they are often indispensable to the office staff (in other words, they have strong political ties).

    No offense to instructional aides, but most of the aides that I had to work with actually lacked an adequate understanding of the curriculum in order to be able to teach it to students. With these individuals, if I dared question their methods, their insecurities would invariably manifest itself in the form of my being yelled at - sound familiar?

    If your P. is anything like the ones that I worked under, you can expect him/her to remain somewhat neutral and uninvolved. I concur with justwannateach who advised you to document everything that transpires, including quoting individuals verbatim, in the event that you need to produce documentation. I would recommend that you meet with the principal to assess what he/she thinks of your situation. BTW, how did he act and respond at the meeting? Did he offer any suggestions?

    You can of course apologize to the aide, involve the guidance counselor in subsequent meetings, etc. - been there, done that and more. In my experience, my aides were never able or willing to work collaboratively to improve the situation. Ultimately, I decided to just let them do their thing and tried to ignore them, as much as possible.

    With regard to people entering your classroom and engaging your aide for extended amounts of time while neglecting to work with students, you can either lock the door or if they ask to speak to your aide, tell them that she's not available - busy working with students.

    One more thing, forget about making your aide feeling "left out". IMO, that's just a diversion to avoid having to talk about the real issues (i.e. her inadequacies). No one apologized for anything in the schools that I worked at.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
  10. ZoeMarie

    ZoeMarie Rookie

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    Feb 4, 2018

    Thank you for your advice and experience. I feel a lot better knowing that I'm not the only one who has experience something like this. I honestly have been thinking about the situation over and over and trying to figure out exactly what I've done that is so horrible. Seems like I'm experience exactly what you described.

    My principal seemed to be understanding and listened to my side of things. Last year, she did not renew the contracts of two teachers who worked together and did not get along. One was a new hire and the other was there for about 4 years. The new hire was very difficult to work with and everyone new it. Despite the other teachers efforts to fix it their contracts were not renewed. Budget was cited for the reason but everyone knows that is not the case. That is why I'm so worried about not getting another contract. I'll try not to worry so much about that though and handle this the best I can.

    Unfortunately, the adults coming in my room are OT's , speech teachers, and other aides with student from the ABA classroom that is there for social benefits, so they will have to come into the room. It has lessened since I spoke with her about it.
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 4, 2018

    Do you have a union?
     
  12. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Feb 4, 2018

    It's hard, but I suggest talking to her. Let her know you had a meeting with your principal and it was mentioned that she was feeling left out. Apologize for making her feel that way (if that feels appropriate for you). Don't prolong the conversation or make excuses. Just say you'll make sure she's included in future projects and ask her to let you know if there's anything she needs from you. Then document the conversation.

    Also, when next appropriate, put up a project and include something that has her name on it. Maybe make a bulletin board with some pictures and include one of her. In your next newsletter (if you do that), mention her name in something. No need to do all of this, just one or two so that you can show you're making an effort. It seems like a little effort will CYA here and help your aide feel more included.
     
  13. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Feb 4, 2018

    I just thought of a constructive approach that you might consider trying. Sometimes applying positive strokes to some folks can have a magical effect. Just as you might do with your students, look for small (or large) successes that your aide achieves with students and be sure to acknowledge her accomplishments - be careful not to over do it to avoid arousing any suspicion about your motive. Your response might be a personal note, an appreciative email (cc the principal), or a simple "high five" in the classroom. Pop into the principal's office to express a kind word about your aide's positive attitude, etc. Thank your aide for her help at the end of the day as she leaves to go home. Send a Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day card (or both) to your aide. Let other aides know how well your aide is doing in your classroom (it will eventually get back to her). Finally, surprise your aide by asking for her advice about a particular student or ask her if she would like to introduce and/or plan a special class activity of her choice (e.g. art, crafts, cooking, hobby). I've heard that honey can . . . Oh, and don't forget to pray if you're a believer. Best wishes!
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018

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