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Old 11-10-2012, 09:15 AM
HidingOut HidingOut is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 2
School morale problems *very worried*

I am regular poster, but I am signed in under another account, because I don't want to be identified.

A little background information: I am new(er) to my building, but not to the district. Prior to last year, my school had a really really horrible principal (whom I never worked with). She bullied teachers to the point where some were considering suicide. Because my district is afraid to fire anyone, they moved her to a different position, and the new principal was hired. This is the new principal's 2nd year. The staff at this school has been through a lot. It's almost as if they are always on guard, and are afraid to speak up.

We had a meeting this past week that really upset me. I felt like things were going ok this year, but I also realized that a lot of people were feeling really stressed. I actually have quite a few co-workers that are planning on quitting after this year, or are currently looking for a new job.

During the meeting, my principal exclaimed that we need to quit B*$#&ing and learn to deal with the reality of our jobs. We need to be giving 110%. We need to be sitting down and doing work at 9:00 at night when our kids go to bed. We can "B" to each other as much as we want, but it isn't going to do any good, because we need to step up and do our jobs. P used the "B word" a few times, and mentioned the "P word." (I am really bothered by this, but we no longer have a strong union, OR a contract, thanks to our governor.)

P also confused us all by saying, "Come to me if you have an issue. We can't fix it if we don't talk about it. Silence is compliance." And, in another breath, P would say, "You can "B" to each other, but don't come whine to me. It's your job. Do it."

The thing is, my school doesn't even have any "slackers." We all work so. Gosh. Darn. Hard. I was at work until 10:00 last night (a 15 hour day), and I will probably be there all day on Sunday. Yet, I'm told that I'm not doing enough. We have so much being thrown at us with intervention (we're responsible for all RtI tiers for literacy and math) and Common Core. Not to mention my district is CRAZY about technology in a very obnoxious way. We're expected to learn how to use Weeblys and Google Drive, and Symbaloos, and Vialogues, and a bunch of other weird words!

I just don't know what to do. I feel like I have no one at my school to go to. A co-worker told me not to trust anyone. We used to be pretty close, and now she is always so mad (mad at me? mad at everything? I don't know!). My team is so unhappy that our meetings consist of complaining. I really wish I could work with a group of people that were like, "Ok, this is it. Let's do what we need to do and work smarter, not longer." Everyone kind of keeps to themselves, and there is just this horrible feeling around the building. It's really hard to explain, but it's not good. I feel like the meeting we had this past week was the icing on the cake. Now everyone is extra stressed, more worried, and really upset.

I just don't know what to do. I don't feel like I can talk to anyone. It's so sad, too, because I really believe in the importance of having a strong, close community in the workplace. I guess I can just keep doing the best that I can do for my students, and look out for myself. It's just so sad, though.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:24 AM
knitter63's Avatar
knitter63 knitter63 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,460
, Hiding.
I know first hand how hard it is to work when there is no support, and the staff does not trust anyone.
Can you move to another building? Is there no union representation at all? How do the parents feel about this P?
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:48 AM
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readingrules12 readingrules12 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 2,122
5th Grade Teacher
Wow! What a bad situation. I would be incredibly bothered by the fact that the P is using that offensive language at the staff. The P went way over the line. Someone like this who does this in November, most likely will continue to use this language until someone brings it to the P's attention.

How to handle this situation is something I was trained to do, and it is very delicate. You have to be honest with yourself and see if you are someone who can carefully communicate with someone like this. This P can make your life even worse if you confront him/her in the wrong way. In the meantime, I would remember 5 things.

1. This out of control P is not your fault,and while you possibly can make the situation a little better, there is not much you can do to change your P.

2. This P must be confronted by a teacher, union member, superintendent or someone. This P's language is abusive and a type of harassment. He or she must be warned about this first and then if the P doesn't change, charges can be filed. In the public school I was at, this would violate the contract we had between the union and the district. In the private school I am currently at, this P behavior would violate the harassment policy that we have in our group of private schools. If your P is not confronted expect the bullying to continue. A bully that is not confronted doesn't stop. How to confront the P? That is tricky, but someone must do it.

3. You will never please this P, even if you work 24 hours a day and spend $100/week on materials. Focus on being the best teacher you can be for the students and don't worry about pleasing a P who can't be pleased.

4. This P is furious over gossiping and complaining. I wouldn't complain at school at all in any group. Any complaining do at home or with 1 other teacher you really trust. Keep it positive even with all the bad that is sure to be at your school.

5. You should make plans to get out of that school. I rarely ever encourage someone to leave because of the P, but yours is abusive and out of control. There are far better places to work. My P is so kind, respectful, and positive. There are plenty of good P's out there. (I have worked under poor P's, but never anyone as bad as what you described.)

Let us know how it goes. Good luck to you. :-)
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:57 AM
JustMe JustMe is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 8,133
I don't know if I'm uptight, old-fashioned, or what...but I would without hestitation walk out of the meeting if my principal used that language. It's not okay. I also don't agree with the constant messgae to just suck it up. There is a line, a limit.
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Old 11-10-2012, 10:07 AM
Bella2010 Bella2010 is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 744
5th Grade Teacher
I'm so sorry. Big . It's really frustrating when you are doing your best, but the higher ups make you feel that's not good enough. Sounds like the people at your school have a lot of arrows being shot at once. I'm sorry, I don't have any advice. I just wanted to let you know that I'm hoping things at least smooth out so that you all can make it through the year and then explore some options.

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Old 11-10-2012, 10:25 AM
Marylander Marylander is offline
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 71
4th Grade Teacher
I agree with the suggestions already offered.

Do you have any sort of faculty council that is supported by your teachers' association? If so, the principal's speech and treatment of the faculty need to be reported and documented. If there's no council, someone needs to take your grievances to an authority who can provide sound advice.

Your principal might have been having a "bad day" (as we all do), but her behavior is completely unacceptable. Indeed, administrators are human, but they're in a position that requires leadership. This person must set a positive tone and be a model of professionalism. JustMe is right in saying that teachers should have walked on when the principal's verbal abuse began. As teachers we are supposed to stop bullying among students. We need to practice what we preach.

I would hope that one (or more) of your faculty steps up and takes on this problem and that it eventually works out for you. This school is poison, and the atmosphere WILL filter down to the children. SO toxic. Please keep us informed.
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Old 11-10-2012, 10:25 AM
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mopar mopar is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 10,977
Kindergarten Teacher
Do your team members teach the same subjects and grade level as you? If so, I would talk with them about dividing tasks and conquering them so that you can get more finished.

Let others kind of pick what they want and then you may have to pick up some of the slack.
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Old 11-10-2012, 10:50 AM
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czacza czacza is offline
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 20,885
New Jersey
Grade 3
Not much else to say other than what's been said above...your colleagues need to pull together, union or not. Help each other, plan together, share....and find time outside of school for fun...get a glass of an adult beverage on Friday afternoons, have different grade levels bring donuts or bagels once a month, organize a fundraiser or blood drive to help your community.
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:41 AM
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KinderCowgirl KinderCowgirl is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 4,914
Kindergarten Teacher
Wow. I don't have any real advice either but do offer my sympathy.

I'm not offended by bad language generally, but coming from an administrator in a meeting setting, directed toward the staff...that would definitely offend me too.

I also hope that you guys can pull together and get through the year the best way that you can-that's a really tough situation.
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Old 11-10-2012, 12:01 PM
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Caesar753 Caesar753 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 11,681
It's time to look for a new job.

I would also avoid putting too much stock in your coworkers' opinions. If "some" of them--plural--were considering suicide because the previous principal was bad, I really have to question their hold on sanity and reality. That's obviously a very extreme reaction to an unpleasant work situation. Anyone who would go to those sorts of lengths to deal with low morale at work clearly has some internal issues to work out.
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morale, problems, school, worried

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