Coping with ineffective administrator- glad for help

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Kippers, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. Kippers

    Kippers Companion

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    Feb 17, 2019

    I am an elementary special education teacher. I believe I have the full support of my school principal- she has said so. My issue is the assistant principal.
    The AP has been put in charge of special ed. for the past few years and he is a mess. He has not learned the basics, and we have a school psychologist who is known to be the worst in the district. I know I am sounding very negative and passing blame. Psychologist will soon retire. Together, they have made me very stressed and I did complain to principal- I never do this- but I lost it.
    This week, assistant principal told a parent, whose child was on a two-day on campus suspension for physically assaulting others- that he left it up to me and I didn't want their child at the Valentine's Day party. He allowed another student to attempt to elope from campus and made no attempt to contact me or parent. He told the parent of another child, the name of a child who was suspected of hurting her child when I was in a meeting. He repeated the name several times.
    I have the kiddos with the highest needs at our school site- including some major behaviors. Things fall apart- to my dismay- when I'm not in the room- and do pretty well when I'm there. I've worked really hard on building strong relationships with every child and their parents. We have a strong degree of trust and teamwork, and his involvement is undermining this.
    I've heard him quietly tell my kiddos "be a good girl/boy, and I'll give you a prize at the end of the day." This is usually after a major behavior- like throwing a chair or desk. Almost all major behavior occurs when I am out in meetings.
    I realize now that he really doesn't know what he is doing- at all. How do you deal with someone who is ineffective- but could potentially be damaging- who is in administration.
    I'm not claiming to be the greatest teacher in the world- and there are clearly issues when I leave my room. I do have kiddos who could likely qualify for ED programs. But I do know what I'm doing, I was teacher of the year recently, and I've been relying on this guy to get me a permanent aide for the past year and a half. I love my site, I love my class. I can't work with someone in charge of my department who does not "get" our kids.
    How do the rest of you cope, other than stress and over-eating which is my most recent go-to?
     
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  3. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    Feb 17, 2019

    You sound frustrated and that is a hard position to be in. Thinking of what next, my first question would be how did the conversation you had with your AP go? I'm assuming that if you went to your P that you talked to your AP first. I also assume all these facts have come directly from the AP? (My first question as I read was who told you the AP said they left the Valentine's Day party up to you? If it was anyone other than the AP, I'd be talking to the AP to confirm).
     
  4. Kippers

    Kippers Companion

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    Feb 17, 2019

    The AP called me during class to say the parent had called and wanted child to attend the party. Parent had spent money on party favors. He asked me what I thought. I said I thought he would lose out on everything, and this would be a hard lesson, but an important one. The next day AP sent me an email stating he called child's parent and told her I didn't want child at my party. This issue happened after I had gone to P.
    I hate to sound so whiny. I needed an administrator to state to parent that despite many interventions, child's behavior was escalating to the point he posed a danger to himself and his classmates, and sadly, district disciplinary response is that child is required to be removed from the classroom and all related activities. It was not that I did not want a child at my party- this was a classroom activity.
    I had a lengthy conversation with parent and she did take him to the doctor for a medication adjustment the next day. This child requires medication at this time and has therapeutic interventions as well. Child's mom was under the impression that AP said he'd let child go do the party since mom had bought the treats, but that teacher said he couldn't come. The major issue in our conversation was the party, not the fact that he had thrown chairs at heads.
     
  5. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    Feb 18, 2019

    Was the party on the day of the on campus suspension or was the party on a day after the on campus suspension was over? (How I'd approach the AP would be different depending on your answer - that's why I'm asking).
     
  6. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Feb 18, 2019

    If the student is acting dangerously, then the responsible action to take is to have said student removed from the classroom and all related activities. That’s the approach my school takes and it incentivizes students to never act out again because the consequence(s) are extremely awful for students. We don’t mess around and students learn the hard way not to misbehave.
     
  7. Kippers

    Kippers Companion

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    Feb 18, 2019

    The party was the same day as the on campus suspension. Parent wanted child to leave suspension and rejoin class just for the party.
     
  8. Kippers

    Kippers Companion

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    Feb 18, 2019

    This is how I feel. This little guy has a history of major behaviors and he missed a field trip last year as a result of his behaviors.
     
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  9. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    Feb 18, 2019

    First, I don't think you sound whiny. You are frustrated and that is reasonable.

    So in your shoes I would separate out what I know for sure (saw/ directly conversed with the AP about) versus what I have heard (the parent said the AP said, etc).

    I would also separate out what happened when you aren't in the room from what happened when you are there. You really can't judge how someone else handled a situation you weren't involved in.

    Then I'd talk to the AP directly. I would focus on what you need and how it relates to the facts that you know. If you are inclined to go directly to the P again, I'd ask to meet with both of them and if that doesn't feel safe I'd take a union rep with you if you have one, but I would meet with both of them because you are going to have to continue to work with the AP so going to the P instead of the AP is no different than the parent going to the AP instead of you. You may dislike this person. They may make poor decisions but you are not going to gain influence or getting them on your side by annoying them.

    For example, I might say to the AP, Am I correct that you told the parent that I didn't want the child in my class for the party? Because when you said that, I felt like you threw me under the bus. My understanding was that district policy was that students were not allowed to participate in classroom activities during a suspension and the party was a classroom activity. The next time we have a suspension....(create a plan)

    Ultimately you either have to deal with everything yourself or do as much as you can to get the AP on your side. It sounds like you don't have a class where you can do everything yourself, so after you dust yourself off I'd try to work with them.
     
  10. Kippers

    Kippers Companion

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    Feb 18, 2019

     
  11. Kippers

    Kippers Companion

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    Feb 18, 2019

    Thanks for your sound advice. I've been trying to work around AP for four years and have been largely successful. When events happen, we run into issues. AP sent me an email that said this verbatim (names changed). "Kippers: I called child's mom. I told her you said you don't child at your party."

    That's what led me to posting my frustration. This same AP cut our IEP days in half, told us we have to hold the meetings on our own time, and suggested we pay gen ed teachers to attend by doing favors or buying gift cards. He also questioned why I don't start instruction in the cafeteria since I don't have a morning aide. AP often adds tier 3 behavior kiddos from other classes to my room for a time out and I've been coping.

    I've already met with principal- who immediately resolved some of these issues with the exception of my lack of assistant. I have to be polite- but I'm so extremely frustrated. AP is only a few years into admin and seems so very lost. He really is a genuinely nice person- just lost and trying to please everyone- like the mom who didn't want to lose money on Valentines.
     
  12. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Feb 18, 2019

    The last part of your post struck a chord with me. You say the AP is nice and seems lost. Could you turn this into a teachable moment for him? Could you ask him if you could set up some meetings to discuss your goals and situations? If he truly does not know how to deal with your class, he may be willing to learn if you approach him in a different way?
     
  13. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Pardon my saying so, but your AP sounds like a perfect idiot and complete buffoon. You work with a boob.
     
  14. Kippers

    Kippers Companion

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    Feb 18, 2019

    You are a better and kinder person than I am at the moment and you are absolutely right. I could and should turn this into a teachable moment. I think with a little breathing room we can turn a lot of this around. I did not lash out at him, I'm just terribly frustrated and I did- after four years- break and go to principal.I genuinely think he is in over his head and treading water. I also very much hope he will be shifted to a new site next year.
     
  15. Kippers

    Kippers Companion

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    This is where I'm at mentally right now. I need to move past this and into teachable moments.
     
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  16. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Feb 18, 2019

    It is very difficult to work with administration that do not understand Sped. It just is different. Good luck in your situation!
     

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