I can't stop thinking about the past...

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by LittleShakespeare, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Comrade

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    Aug 28, 2018

    Do you guys remember Nick Carraway from "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald? He was trying to talk some sense into Jay: "You can't repeat the past." And Jay Gatsby said, "Of course you can." :heart:

    So, I'm gearing up for this school year. I'm working hard at my classroom management and lesson plans. I do have a problem. I figured I would share with you guys. This is really important. I'm not telling you this to gain sympathy, and I'm not intending to vilify anyone. I'm telling you guys something that has been bothering me for a long time, something that's kind of been preventing me from wanting to go back. It's not about the inner city kids. It's about my old co-teacher. I do apologize in advance if this upsets anyone. Please know that it's not my intention. I just feel lost and vulnerable, so I wanted to come share with you.

    I was working with a very difficult co-teacher last year. She really, really hated me. From the second I walked into that classroom, she always belittled me or made me feel like crap about myself. She's not supposed to teach the class. I am. She's not in charge. I am. But still, she stepped on my toes ALL THE TIME, and she would complain that I wasn't contributing. I've been talking to my therapist about this. I just can't get over the way she treated me and the awful things she did and said.

    1. I'm really passionate and in love with literature, and that angered her so much. Every single day in the classroom, she would put me down in front of the kids: "I have no idea why Ms. H is here! She should have been a librarian." Or "I understand that you're passionate about literature, but you have to tone it down." I took out a non-school related book one day because I couldn't find the chromebook key cart, and she said, "Are you sure you should even be here?"

    2. As a new teacher, I would often make mistakes trying to adapt to the new school. I'm not going to lie. I was on the hot mess express! I acknowledge my shortcomings, and I always did with her. She would MAGNIFY the fudge out of them and give me hell every single time I messed up. "Many libraries are hiring!"

    3. She did something so awful that I can't seem to get over. When I first came to this school, I didn't realize that my VP boss hated guided notes. She says they're too "elementary", but this was after what my co-teacher did. I did things a bit differently with my other two blocks because my co-teacher wouldn't even let me come up with ANYTHING for the class she shared. So one day, she went into my folder while I was writing on the chalkboard, stole my lesson plans, and put them in her purse. Because she's bff's with the VP, she spied on my lesson plans and turned them in. I got in trouble with my boss at my post-observation. My observation lesson did not have guided notes, and I did not even give them to my VP. My VP gave me a low score for a lesson I did not teach! And what's weird: the stolen lesson plans were on the VP's desk with my co-teacher's handwriting.

    4. I got sick with the flu, and I was out for two days. I stayed after school when I came back to discuss our agenda for the new book. It's amazing the security guards didn't come to our classroom. She was yelling SO LOUDLY and completely lost it.
      - You're so obsessed with books! It's too much!
      - Why are you taking care of your nieces after school? THEY'RE NOT YOUR KIDS!!!!
      - Do you know all the horrible things our students say about you? They hate you!
      - You shouldn't be here! I don't understand why you're not a librarian! (I asked her to stop saying this and undermining my authority in front of the kids, and she did stop eventually).
      - I was going to report you for harassment! (This was because I referred to her as the Queen of AVID since she recently won an award for outstanding service in AVID)

    5. I bought her a $150 Alex and Ani birthday present because I did appreciate all the things she did for our class. I really wanted us to be friends. On my birthday, she did give me a birthday card, but I could hear her and the other ELA teachers talking about me while I was in the copy room. I think they were making fun of me for wearing the birthday badge my students had made for me. "Is she serious? And she's 28?"

    6. We taught a class in another teacher's classroom, and I was always the scapegoat if a student "stole" the teacher's cookies or if the classroom wasn't in order. Mind you, I was always late to my second class because I would always plug in the chromebooks, erase the board, and put the desks back in order. It was my job, after all! But she and this teacher are also bff's, so they always used to power walk to and interrupt my classes to tell me how crappy my classroom management skills were. "Not exactly your strong suit!"

    7. I went to her office one day because I needed to talk about fixing everything, all this hostility. She can be kind of aggressive and defensive, which is totally fine, but I actually started to cry. It wasn't because of her. I had gotten back from vacation that weekend, and my ex broke my heart. I told her the truth about how stressed out I was, how I was actually on anti-anxiety medication and going to therapy, and how my ex just recently hurt me, so I apologized that my work wasn't up to par. A week later, she said to me, "Are you sure you really want to stay here at this school? Because the other day in my office, you were having a MELTDOWN!"

    -----

    I know this is all in the past. I know that, and I am grateful. But I can't stop thinking about it. Is it normal to feel so hurt? Maybe I was a crappy first-year teacher, but it's not like I didn't try. My principal told me that he was proud of me. And my VP was the one who rehired me!

    I guess I'm just afraid because I work in this school where many of the ELA teachers are so close to each other, and they all hate me. I can't walk past them without them giggling or talking. I'm afraid because I want this to be a pleasant environment.

    I asked my mentor last year (who's also bff's with the co-teacher), and she said to me, "I think the message has been received. You two are not a good match, and you won't be working together again."

    How will I go on working with no support from colleagues? I feel like I only have one friendly ELA colleague, and he's always the first to help me. But how can I stop my past from interfering with my future, like Nick Carraway advised?
     
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  3. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Aug 29, 2018

    Not to excuse anything she did, but if it is truly co-teaching (and not an aide), then you should BOTH have been in charge and you should have BOTH been teaching.

    It does sound like an altogether crappy situation, but are you sure the other teachers are giggling/talking about you? I suspect part of that may be overthinking the situation. i just can't imagine a building full of professors acting like middle schoolers to be honest. Yes,1 or 2 odd balls maybe, but not a whole department.

    I would just ignore her as much as possible, and be glad you are flying solo this year.
     
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  4. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Comrade

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    Aug 29, 2018

    Thanks for your message. Forgive me, I call her a co-teacher, but she's an in-class support teacher. She was supposed to work with the four kids that had IEP's in the classroom while I taught the main course.

    I promise you, they talk about EVERYONE. It's so unprofessional. They spend their prep periods gossiping about other teachers and their online dating profiles. It's so awful when they smile in your face, and once you turn your back, they talk about you too. I actually was upset on my birthday because my kids made me a queen that day with this badge. They are a tough group, but they managed to make me smile because I knew they did love me. And then these ELA teachers who convene in the mornings before class begins started laughing and saying, "Wow, she's 28 and wearing that?"
     
  5. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Aug 29, 2018

    I'm not sure what you really want from us. I'm sure your therapist has told you what you need to do. No one can make you change your thought process but you. Just apply your strategies. Stop wanting to have friends at work. Do your job the way you want to do it and follow your administrators instructions if he has any suggestions or advice.
     
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  6. vickilyn

    vickilyn Guru

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    Aug 29, 2018

    Typically, the in-class support teacher, who is generally SPED with a TOSD certification or a MEd. in SPED in the state of NJ, is considered a true co-teacher. Instead of hovering over four kids and calling attention to the fact that those students need extra help, the better class utilization is to have that co-teacher truly co-teach, so that both teachers will have more time to help all students in the classroom. In that arrangement, the co-teacher can provide help to any student who may need help, which often includes students who are not classified, but being watched in intervention, ELL's who may be struggling with the work, other students who may show some of the problems often associated with classified students, including poor organizational skills and ability to focus.

    Now that I have said how the best co-teachers are utilized in the classroom, let me tell you about the worst squandering of talent I have seen. The classroom teacher ignores the benefits that the co-teacher can provide, and essentially treats them as an aide, asking them to run copies, or simply sit in the back of the room unless spoken to. Yes, I have seen this scenario play out, and my heart always breaks for the teacher who is having her expertise denigrated because the "class teacher" can't see how this co-teacher is there to "add to" their knowledge and help the entire class function better.

    Don't get me wrong, because I have seen co-teachers who are content to do very little, usually in the lower grades, and put themselves into the "aide" corner seat. In HS, most in-class-support teachers are well versed in their subject content, and when the teacher/co-teacher arrangement works well, it is virtually impossible to tell who is the content teacher, because they both know the subject so well. This is co-teaching at its finest, and everyone benefits from having two gifted teachers in the room. By HS, SPED students don't want to be singled out, they don't want classmates to know they are getting modified lessons, and other students are watching, and they want to know why they can't get a little extra help, too. I'm not talking about changing what you expect of them, but about being able to support any student in need as long as the SPED student's need are being met as well.

    Now that I have added that information to this thread, that is where I stop having input. Do I suspect that OP is hanging on to the past "wrongs" as a way to not have to make changes? Perhaps, but I am not the therapist, and I wouldn't suppose to know how she wants to proceed or address this matter. As far as thinking everyone is talking about you in a negative way, it sounds a bit paranoid. I'm not saying it is true or false, only that individuals who think "everyone is talking about me and hates me" has a certain state of mind feel to it. I could definitely see where someone suffering with extreme anxiety could convince themselves that every hushed conversation, every laugh that starts when you leave the room must be about that struggling individual.

    OP, I would continue with your therapist and see what coping skills and insights that you may acquire. As someone who works with ED HS students, I can tell you that they are often resistant to change, sometimes even regressing a bit, until they finally internalize what their therapist has been trying to get them to see. When change happens, it is often in stops and starts, until we notice how much better they are - we all notice the changes. Unfortunately, in my scenario, these students leave us once they are stabilized and stronger, either graduating or returning to the sending district. If we've done our job well, we say our goodbye's and never see them again.

    In your case, OP, as you make these breakthroughs and improvements, your co-workers will get to know and appreciate your growth and changes, setting the stage for all parties to look forward with optimism, while letting a troubled past slowly slip away. It all hinges on you staying the course and putting in the time and effort to let the therapist and therapy lead you down a better, healthier path, where you are happy and secure. Therapy is not usually a short-term affair, and it takes some dedication, especially if you get to one spot that you refuse to get past. You have time and effort to invest in this arrangement, so why not see where this path may lead? Let me wish for you a brighter future.
     
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  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 29, 2018

    You’ve got one ELA colleague you can count on, you’re not teaching with that ‘co teacher’ again this year and it seems your admin supports you. That’s all good! You can’t control how these other colleagues act...you can only control how you act. Don’t react to them..just do you. You are passionate about lit and you can ignight that passion in your students. That’s exciting. Start the year with a book you LOVE- I know you will have engaging lessons (not guided notes, LOL) and let that enthusiasm and energy guide your attitude and your interactions.
     
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  8. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Comrade

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    Aug 29, 2018

    Thank you so much, everyone. I hope you all have an amazing year. We got this! :D
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Aug 29, 2018

    You should only look back at the negative past is to see if you have learned from it. Having said that I understand it's hard to just go on with all those unfair and horrible things. But you're not teaching with her anymore, you don't even have to be nice or say hi to her. Just mind your own things, worry about your lessons and enjoy your students, and who cares what people say. Don't even put yourself in the position to hear it. If it's blatant and can't ignore then stand up for yourself, and simply: "That's not professional, please stop saying / doing that"
     
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