Dealing with a deranged colleague?

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by newtchr, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. newtchr

    newtchr Rookie

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    Jan 18, 2009

    Hi,
    I was in a bad situation last year and got some good advice on here. I resigned from my job and moved states. I'm now teaching again in a much better situation and everything has been great up until this past week. I teach in special education and one of my co-workers is the kind of person who likes to stir up trouble. I try to steer clear of her, but I often need to get to the files and they're in her room. She is very bitter and talks badly about the administration, other teachers, etc--in front of students.

    She's been really mean to another new teacher and is constantly emailing the principal about him--trying to get him in trouble for not being in his room, being late or whatever. Now she has turned on me and I don't even know what I did. She is extremely hateful and I'm afraid she is going to start complaining about me to the principal, too. I have a very big caseload of students and I need some help and advice occasionally but I am afraid to ask her now.

    A couple of days ago, she made some hateful comments about me in front of some students while I was in an adjoining room. I was so upset, I left the building and cried in the car. The next day, another teacher I work closely with told me to beware of her because she is crazy.

    That teacher also told me that the crazy one came to her after I started and warned her about me--that I was going to make trouble for her. And I had no idea all this time why she was so distant. After a couple of months, she has warmed up because she sees that I'm not the person the crazy teacher made me out to be.

    I talked to my supervisor, but that may have been a mistake because I don't know if I can trust her. Things may just get worse if she tries to intervene..

    Does anyone else have to work with a psychopath? What can you do? I loved going to work until this past week and I absolutely hate drama. I just want to do my job and get along with everyone. Why is that so hard for some people?
     
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  3. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    Jan 18, 2009

    This woman sounds bitter and burned out. Ignore what she says and don't say anything but hello to her. Don't let her upset you,realize where it is coming from. I would not speak to the administration unless they request to see you. They must know what she is like.You are correct,just do your job and don't let her ruin it for you.
     
  4. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Jan 18, 2009

    Stay in your room whenever possible. Lock your door during preps and your lunch break. Leave only when you have to. I avoid the faculty room to avoid teachers like this. She is trying to suck away your energy. Don't let her bother you. Do breathing exercises to get rid of any of the negativity. Chin up and smile. You'll do fine!
     
  5. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    Jan 18, 2009

    Pray hard, don't ever talk to her alone, and keep the lines of communication open with everyone else. Most of all, pray hard, God will handle it.
     
  6. Camel & Walrus

    Camel & Walrus Rookie

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    Jan 21, 2009

    Really? With all God has to do he will take the time to solve a minor uncomfortable social situation for her?

    I would be documenting all of the history and contacting the principle with your concerns. Secondly tell her in front of supportive teachers/full staff room/ other people who recognise her desire to create tedious life drama that she should mind her own business and leave you alone.
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2009

    The gibe at eduk8r was uncalled-for, Camel and Walrus.
     
  8. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    Jan 21, 2009

    I agree with this - do your job, stay positive and be yourself when you are out of the room with others. Avoid her.

    I'm sure the admin there has some idea of how she is especially if she is saying things about you to others and vice versus.

    Good Luck!
     
  9. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    Jan 21, 2009

    Thank you, TG. :D It was the gibe at God that I regret seeing. Yes, Camel & Walrus, God has time for all that and more. :)
     
  10. fuzed_fizzion

    fuzed_fizzion Comrade

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    Jan 22, 2009

    It is very hard when a colleague does not act professionally. Ask your supervisor not to intervene, but to help you work on being able to communicate and work with her. I don't agree to stay locked away in your room. THis teacher is a bully. She acts this way because she has gotten away with it for awhile now. Do what you need to do. When you need to talk to her, have someone you trust be there with you. I must also warn that I do not think the person you should trust is the teacher who told you about the crazy teacher warning her about you. There is not a single beneficial reason for you to know what she told you other than to stir up more conflict. Be pleasant and professional with both of these people, document anything that happens, and do your job to the best of your ability.

    It is hard when someone tries to make others miserable because they are unhappy. Try to remember that this is not about you, but all about her.
     
  11. marcovitch

    marcovitch New Member

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    Jan 22, 2009

    Go straight to your human resources and report her wierd behaviour. Bullies usualy stop when they see you will not put up with it.If she is talking to students about teachers this is gross misconduct and she can receive a written warning for it. I know it is unpleasant to have to do this but rather a little unpleasantness now than allowing it to build to the point where you dont want to go to work.Get the other teachers she has been nasty to to do the same. Think about what you would advise a student to do if they came to you about being bullied.
     
  12. mandijyn

    mandijyn Rookie

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    Jan 22, 2009

    Sometimes I have found that a direct approach works best when handling a difficult person. Try calmly confronting the bully teacher and letting her know that her behavior is unacceptable and offensive-- especially when it is done in front of students. This lets her know that you will not be intimidated! Good Luck
     
  13. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Jan 24, 2009

    You cannot control a psychopath, it's apparent you have to get along with her and you sure don't want to make things worse. You don't want to get the kids wrapped up in any mess with her either because you'll have problems getting them out of it and parents might get involved too.

    Very seriously, when she says something hateful, reply back with some positive comment and smile while doing it. Apparently, she's tenured, she'll continue to get away with doing with what she's always done so play her game, but play smarter than her.

    School systems are very cliquish, you don't know who's related to whom, who eats dinner with whom once a week, who goes to whomever's church, just be very careful in confiding.

    Look forward to a long career, learn to play the game of getting along with everyone early in your career. The hardest thing I had to learn as a young teacher was that not everyone liked me, it killed me for a while, but then I got over it. You don't have to like everyone and not everyone is going to like you.

    Smile at the psychopath, enjoy every day, you're there for the kids, and you'll still be there when she's gone.
     
  14. newtchr

    newtchr Rookie

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    Feb 8, 2009

    update

    Thanks to all who have responded. The comments were very comforting and helpful. I did mention to my principal that I feel she resents me because she has to take up some of the slack when I'm not there. (I am at one school in the morning and then go to the other one in the afternoon). He said he hasn't gotten any complaints about me and that it takes a couple of years to get the hang of a new teaching job. He was very understanding and kind.

    I talked to my supervisor again briefly and she said that the principal called her to talk about the situation. Apparently, I'm not the only one she's tormenting.
    My supervisor also told me the teacher is unhappy at home (marriage?) and is bringing that into the job. She said not to take anything personally so I'm going to keep that in mind. However, I find myself not wanting to get out of bed in the morning because I dread being at "her" school. It is hard to get used to the idea that not everyone likes you--especially when you're pleasant and friendly to all.
     
  15. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Feb 8, 2009

    Newtchr,
    There are people like this in all professions. Please don't think this only happens in education. It happens everywhere! While you've gotten a lot of good advice (everything from praying, to laying low, to confronting her, to going to human resources) I'd like to mention that you need to pick a response that goes along with your personality. If you are scared to confront a person, then don't do that! Find a way to deal with it that fits your comfort zone -- as long as that is possible. If you are scared of confrontation, she'd pick up on that and make mincemeat out of you. So that wouldn't be a good approach for you. For someone else, it might be the perfect solution. Neither approach is necessarily better. They are just different.

    No matter where you go in this world, there are people who will not respond to your fairness and kindness. Learning how to function with them anyway (because even if you change jobs, or even change professions, there will be another one of them just waiting for you...) is a big part of maturing as a professional.

    Hang in there! :)
     
  16. GradSTUDENT07

    GradSTUDENT07 Rookie

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    Feb 9, 2009

    I understand 100% what your going through. I actually came on tonight because I was going to start a thread about this same subject. I'm sure the teacher in my case has told the principal of her opinion about me. Whats so strange is I have no idea what I did?!? It confuses me but I agree with a lot of the posts some people are just miserable.

    Some people can sense when others are happy which creates hostility. Two friends and myself have started a Christian book club of sorts (we all live in different states so we communicate by phone) But the lesson we discussed yesterday was that God wants to be apart of all aspects of your life and the book said remember ALL problems to God are small! Think about that! Even major issues to us are small to God because all things can be solved by God! Try not to worry so much some people are not happy unless they are making others miserable.
     
  17. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Feb 10, 2009

    I really feel for you! It's stressful enough to be a new teacher & get all the support you need to get into the swing of things, the last thing you need is this hateful, crazy, UNSUPPORTIVE person who's against you & even talking badly about you!

    You're blessed to have what sounds like a good principal who seems to be in your corner.

    Is there any way you can try to have the files (file cabinet)transferred into your room (or does she need to have access too them too? I'm assuming yes, otherwise, they wouldn't be in her room). You can say something like it would be much less hassle because you wouldn't have to disturb the other teacher. ;)

    Well, just hang in there & try to be friends w/ everyone else. When they start to see how nice you genuinely are, it will make the crazy teacher appear, well, crazy for talking badly about you!

    Hopefully you'll "win" in the end. :) Lots of luck to you!
     
  18. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Feb 10, 2009

    C & W

    Actually He does and your remark was rude to say the least. You don't have to believe it, but kindly respect the rights of others to do so.

    Also, your interpretation of a situation being minor is obviously not the same as the OP or the majority of the others.
     
  19. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Feb 10, 2009

    newtchr

    Now you know that admin is aware of the situation with this woman. Do not allow her to suck the joy of teaching out of you. Avoid her as much as possible. Be pleasant when you can't and if you ARE a prayer, pray that her situation at home will improve. If she is being this way with you, can you imagine the impact on her students?
     
  20. MissKH81

    MissKH81 Rookie

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    Feb 11, 2009

    Chances are...no matter how much she complains to the principal, the principal already knows that she is a complainer and deranged probably more so than you do because it sounds like she's had problems with other teachers. I think it is very good that you spoke up to your supervisor. I'm sure you're not the first to have concerns about her and by speaking up, you have now confirmed the fact that she's a looney. Don't let her get in the way of your job. If you have to get files from her...do so because that is your job. Document her unprofessional behavior as well. How do people like this keep their jobs????
     
  21. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Feb 12, 2009


    I think it is called tenure unfortunately.
     
  22. newtchr

    newtchr Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2009

    Filing a complaint

    I started the thread earlier this month and now things have escalated to the point that the teacher is making derogatory remarks about me in front of students and trying to make me look incompetent.

    And she is emailing other teachers and staff about me---how I'm not doing this or that and she shouldn't have to do my job for me. Yesterday she sent an email to someone at school complaining about how my students are worried about their conferences because I didn't send out the parent notices. Honestly, how many high school students get "worried" about their parents not getting mail about conferences? She totally made that up.

    I had two students come up to me today saying that she told them she had to send out the parent notices for my conferences because I forgot to do it. This was entirely not true. My notices had gone out that morning in the mail. I panicked because the parents would be getting two different letters, one with the wrong information about times, etc. The special ed clerk called her to find out if they had been mailed yet, and the teacher she said she didn't send anything out. So she either lied to the students or to the clerk. I have tried to ignore her behavior because I didn't want to stir things up but now she is directly attacking me with the lying, emails and complaints in front of students.

    This is nothing new for her. I have heard from other people at school that she has done similar things to them. She apparently is very bitter and has a miserable home life. I guess she makes herself feel better by making others feel bad and now I have become her target for some reason. The sad thing is that she is supposed to be my "mentor."

    This is a small school so there is no union or HR department. I will have to take my complaints directly to the principal. I am going to write everything down that has happened this year and express to him that she has made it a hostile working environment for me. I don't know how it will turn out but things can't get much worse. I've been crying so much today my eyes are actually hurting. Wish me luck...
     
  23. miss tree

    miss tree Rookie

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    Feb 27, 2009

    OMG

    Hi, I'm new to this forum. I just read your posting and had to reply - this highly unstable woman shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a classroom. It's your principal's responsibility to ensure that his staff are mentally competent, and if nothing is done about this teacher's behaviour then he is being negligent in his duties.

    I know it's hard to deal with confrontations (especially in your first year), but she has to be stopped. The only reason people like this are allowed to carry on for so long is because others let them get away with it. You have more than enough evidence to make a very strong case against her, and you and your colleagues need to unite and do what it takes to get rid of her, or at least make it known how collectively disturbed you are by her behavior.

    Being nice to her will not work because she'll think she has it over you and her bullying will escalate. The best you can hope for is that she'll eventually lose interest in persecuting you and move onto someone else - but then the cycle will just continue with a new victim. If the other teachers she'd targeted had done something about her prior to this then you wouldn't have to deal with her now.

    All bullies are cowards at heart, and when she's faced with real opposition she'll back down and slink off to her hole to lick her wounds and feel sorry for herself.

    Good luck with this difficult situation.
     
  24. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Feb 28, 2009

    You have to go to the P with this information. Me probably knows she has problems. Let us know how it goes.
     
  25. newtchr

    newtchr Rookie

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    Mar 3, 2009

    I typed up a report of all the incidents of unprofessional behavior and then got very nervous about giving it to the principal. Since then, I have heard from numerous people who have worked around her that she treats everyone badly--some worse than others. She has been this way for years. She even has a sign posted on the outside of her door that says "The Wicked Witch is In and Is Casting Spells."

    She enjoys being a bully and the administration tolerates her because she is the most experienced special education teacher at the school. They need her and I've realized that my complaints will do no good. So now I just completely ignore her and ask another teacher if I need help with something.

    She is very bitter and burned-out and I hope I am able to retire or change jobs if I ever start becoming like her.

    Thanks for all the comments and advice. Right now I think it's better just to do nothing. At this school, I think you have to do something terribly illegal to lose your job. Unfortunately, being a bad teacher is allowed.
     
  26. historygrrl

    historygrrl Rookie

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    Mar 3, 2009

    Continue to document everything, even if you don't intend to use it right now. You never know what may happen in the future and you might need to have documentation to defend yourself.
     
  27. newtchr

    newtchr Rookie

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    May 22, 2009

    After avoiding this crazy woman for a few weeks, I got quite a shock when I found out she called my supervisor complaining about me not doing my job. The crazy teacher looked through my files and didn't see the new IEPs that I did for the high school students so she reported me. She said I was leaving all the work for her to do next year. And the supervisor must have believed her because she told her to go through and flag every mistake I had made and she did--minor ones mainly--like forgetting to put a date on something. I was shocked to see all the sticky notes in the files.

    I have been so upset over this. I emailed my supervisor and principal to defend myself and the principal did call her in to tell her to leave my files alone. However, it still feels like she has won by putting doubt in their minds as to my competency as a teacher. The principal is keeping my files in his office so she can't bother them but I feel it is a way for him to keep an eye on me, as well. There's no telling what she has told him about me. It's sad when you are just trying to learn a new job and you constantly have someone sabotaging you every step of the way. I have one more week to go but I'm thinking of not going back next year. Even though I will be at a different location, I may still have to see her occasionally at professional development meetings. She has really soured my attitude toward teaching.

    She saw me carrying an armfull of IEP folders today through the hallway and made a "hm" sound with a smarmy smile on her face. I honestly have never encountered someone so diabolical (or immature). She's like a real life Disney villain.

    I had my documentation of her unprofessional behavior towards me ready to give the principal but he did most of the talking and I didn't get the chance. He did apologize that this has happened to me, but again, she has made me look like I don't know what I'm doing. The sped supervisor didn't even bother emailing me back to respond. I don't know what to think about that...
     
  28. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    May 22, 2009

    Don't quit. That doesn't look good on your resume that you are only at a job for a year. Plus that allows her to win. Others can only get you if you give them the power.
     
  29. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    May 22, 2009

    Give the principal the documentation, pronto.
     
  30. mommy0708

    mommy0708 New Member

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    May 29, 2009

    Anything new to report? I hate that you're going through this.
     
  31. newtchr

    newtchr Rookie

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    May 29, 2009

    I've avoided her completely for the past week. Monday is the last day of school and I'm hoping not to work with her ever again. Thanks for asking.
     
  32. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    May 30, 2009

    I wish you the best newtchr--- I'm finding that this is happening to some faculty friends of mine with other faculty members. Friendship and gossip have been difficult for me to deal with in the place that I work. I don't like gossiping-- though I'm all for venting and asking advice. :) But my best friend at school is going through a really rough patch with a teacher/admin and it really scares me to see that.
     
  33. newtchr

    newtchr Rookie

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    May 31, 2009

    A bit more venting... I've been feeling anxious lately--my sped supervisor can't guarantee my full-time spot at the elementary. She said she would let me know as soon as she knew my placement. I signed the teaching contract that said I would be an elementary teacher but there is a section that says teachers can be assigned other duties by administration. If they try to make me work in the same school (even part-time) again, I will quit. I wish I knew what the penalty is for resigning in June or July before the school year. I just wish they could tell me where I will be working. I'm really feeling a lot of stress over this right now.
     
  34. timsterino

    timsterino Comrade

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    Jun 1, 2009

    I am sorry you are in such a rough spot, newtchr. I would not give them the satisfaction of quitting, that is what she wants. I would keep documenting and go above the Principal's head (to the Superintendent) if necessary.
     

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