Colleagues and conflict- please help

Discussion in 'General Education' started by khettle, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. khettle

    khettle New Member

    Jul 31, 2010
    Likes Received:

    Sep 1, 2011

    Hello everyone,

    I know this is really long and I apologise for that.

    My name is Erin and I am a 24 year old primary school teacher from Australia. This is my second year of teaching.

    This term (we are in the 3rd of 4 terms in Australia at the moment) I started at a new school- with the contract drawn up for only just over a couple of months.
    My role involves going to each year level and supplying assistance to the children who need to further their work in maths or English. I am only in each room for short amounts of time- be it half an hour, an our some time in between.

    It is a very small school, I work there four days a week- and the school community has been very welcoming to me.

    However just recently I had an issue with an older colleague. I admire her teaching style a lot but at the same time I feel she is very critical of my work. I work in her classroom most days, taking the prep students for maths. I plan these lessons, mark their work and organise assessment also. I know she is trying to be constructive with her comments, but I can't help but feel nothing is ever right- that she is constantly negative about my actions. Nit picking, I guess. I feel quite anxious around her.

    Anyway, yesterday I was feeling particularly rushed and tired. I have half an hour to execute a maths lesson with her students- that includes the mini lesson, task and corrections. It was already ten minutes into the half hour and the preps still were not back from their work with the aids we have at the school.
    I said to my colleague "Would it be okay if the kids finished on the hour?" at which she said a rushed 'okay' or something of the like. I just felt concerned about time. That was all.

    Later on in the session, my colleague came up to me and said "I feel that was very upfront" and she began ranting at me how it had been rude and that the aids weren't teachers and were doing what they could. She was that frustrated she was shaking. At this point I'd had enough, I was helping a child at the time and she did this in front of the class- I felt so small and so embarrassed. I blurted out a teary apology and attempted not to cry for the rest of the lesson. She didn't even approach me during the entire time.
    I apologised to aids too.

    I went to my principal at the end of this lesson and explained my fear of my colleague and explained how she had made me feel. I didn't mean to come off as rude with what I had I asked. He explained that a lot of other teachers had confided in him about her behaviour in the past and I didn't feel so bad. He suggested I talk to her one on one the next day.

    That day was today- I spoke to my colleague, I was so nervous I was nearly sick. I feel like my apology fell on deaf ears and that her manner towards me in the meeting was one of sheer defensiveness- I'm right, you're wrong.
    I decided to be honest and I said that I feel anxious around her- at which she replied "I guess I'm the problem aren't I?"
    She also said she had never had anything like that said to her in the 30 years she's been teaching...I don't understand, I just asked about things being a bit more on time. I guess that was the offensive part. I don't feel like I said what I did rudely, maybe my tone was wrong or my body language and I am just unaware.

    All the same, I feel so down about this situation. I love my school and I am not one to want to make others feel bad or complain. I know my tiredness should have stayed where it was.

    Please help, any comments are welcomed.

  3. January_Violet

    January_Violet Comrade

    Jan 4, 2007
    Likes Received:

    Sep 1, 2011


    I understand your frustration and I believe that every teacher has been there at some point. You handled the situation professionally and its best not to become argumentative with her. Some veteran teachers believe it's their right to belittle new teachers when thats unacceptable.

    I would politely as I could let her know that her comments and tone are not acceptable and she needs to speak to and with you with respect.
  4. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

    Aug 25, 2007
    Likes Received:

    Sep 1, 2011

    Sounds like you are stuck in an uncomfortable position with a difficult colleague. I think you handled it as professionally as you could. If she had a problem, she should have spoken to you in private. As hard as it is, my advise is to put it behind you unless she escalates. I doubt talking to her more is going to do any good. You took the principal's advise and it didn't do any good. If she continues to be rude or uncooperative, try to kill her with kindness but don't be a doormat. Document her actions and go to the principal again if it is a problem but I wouldn't speak to her again right away because she is defensive now.

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