Dealing with a "mean girl" teammate

Discussion in 'General Education' started by catnfiddle, Jan 30, 2015.

  1. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Jan 30, 2015

    I've been with my current team of teachers for two years now (this is my seventh year at my school). I've really enjoyed working with the other GenEd teacher who was placed in the team the same time I was, and our SpEd counterparts are amazing. This year, a third teacher joined our team because the year-long program was expanded. She's new to teaching after years as an accountant, and I think she is going out of her way to take shots at me.

    Our group has always been great about sharing teaching material, but now mine gets a ton of criticism and "tweaking" from her. If I adapt a PowerPoint she has already used, I don't show off what I found lacking. Last week, I let the team know I was adapting all of the novel we're reading to Whiteboard pages so my students could read aloud and along in live sessions. For some reason, she had to write back, "Thanks for your effort! Don’t feel like you have to do this for me; I just don’t use the whiteboards for a couple of reasons. I don’t know how to manipulate once they are in collaborate, and I like to add questions on my slides to scaffold the reading."

    First of all, I'm doing this for my OWN students, not for her benefit. Second, adding images to the whiteboards is pretty easy, especially if you use the tutorials. Third, I swear she's hinting that I am not scaffolding. I just happen to do so verbally AND with visuals according to the needs of the students who are working with me. When I shared this email with my SpEd counterpart, she wrote back, "Wow! Is she that much of an 'it's all about me' person?!? Yikes." At least I'm not the only one seeing this behavior.

    The problem is, I'm not sure how to handle this. I'm technically no longer the team leader because we've switched to Teacher Based Teams. I have no authority to confront this behavior, and it seems too petty to bring up with my supervisor or principal. I also don't want to completely cut out sharing material, especially with my original teammate (who has seen what is going on and sends me a LOT of encouraging emails).

    Suggestions?
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I'd say a simple, "I am sharing the materials that I am using in case they benefit you or [teammate]. I won't take any offense if you don't use them!" email, followed up by immediately deleting any non-constructive criticism.
     
  4. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jan 30, 2015

    Just stop sharing with her. If she says anything, remind her that she told you she wouldn't use them and you didn't want to waste your time. ;)
     
  5. bartleby

    bartleby Rookie

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    Jan 30, 2015

    I realize this is difficult, but I wouldn't pay much attention to it. She could be thinking one in a million things. Sounds like she is under the stress of being a first year teacher, and learning the role, how manage the workload, what works, what doesnt, how the collaboration fits in, etc. She could be worried the improvement to her work was a slight to her... or that you are going out of your way for her because she is new and she doesn't want to take up your time. Like I said, a million and one things could be going through her head. We have all been in rough spots and had the stress get to us.

    I wouldn't go to an admin unless it clearly wasn't a misunderstanding or miscommunication, but outwardly trying to negatively affect you. And perhaps it will become that going forward, but for now, I would just ignore it, continue to collaborate as you would and give it time to work out the kinks. I might even offer some help with the whiteboard, sounds like she could use it.
     
  6. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I believe you are being too sensitive and reading too much into it. People who make swipes at others don't tend to mention their limitations (not knowing how to manipulate once in a certain mode).

    Most likely the communication in her previous workplace was very different. She is brining her previous experiences into the new workplace. For example, in her previous workplace people may have done things for others and turned the tables making it look like she asked for it. This may be why she points out that you don't need to do that for her. Also, in her previous workplace, letting people know what was changed may have been an integral part of teamwork. Others may not have seen it as criticism.

    We all bring baggage. The fact that you are seeing the comment about scaffolding as an assault shows you are sensitive to the issue of scaffolding, sensitive to the issue of others saying what they are doing, or possibly sensitive to change in a situation that was working the way you liked.

    Even if she really did take a swipe, how is dwelling on it going to make things any better? Since she expressed her limitation, provide her a link, in a friendly way, to the tutorial to show her how to do what she said she doesn't know how to do. If you scaffold and it bugs you that much that she made a comment, tell her how you work your scaffolding into your lessons using the update that you are doing. Use it as a team building and idea sharing moment instead of an area of contention and emotional distress.

    You can play into the mean girl or you can choose to look at it differently and turn it into team building and idea sharing.

    My question is, does she criticize you or not agree with your ideas and/or presentation on things? One is expected in workplaces where you are supposed to work in a team and grow in knowledge.
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Honestly, I thought I was simply misreading the other teacher's words and actions until the other teachers on the team started commenting upon it. That's what made me realize I wasn't being delusional. Unfortunately, that also means her actions are affecting the team.

    When she has a great idea or wants to take the lead, I'm thrilled. Heck, she just emailed me her pacing guide for next week, and I am thrilled to use it. However, if I need to make an adjustment to it, I will simply do it.

    The hope is that it will be easier to deal with her little criticisms after next month. It will be the last time we plan as a team in-person for this school year. After that, it's all virtual meetings.
     
  8. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    I'm sure you are picking up on something, but the example you shared didn't "read" to me as mean girl. But, there is probably more to the situation that what you shared.

    Some new teachers who are used to being the brightest bulb in the room take some time to adjust to the collaborative teaching environment that so many of us embrace. I've seen it before from a new teacher who felt vulnerable from her lack of experience, and she didn't allow herself to ever say, "I need help" or "that is a great idea, mind if I do the same?" By saying either of those things it was as if she were showing us she was inadequate. Her teaching suffered from the inability to ask for help.
     
  9. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Honestly, I don't see this as "mean girl" behavior and I don't see this as hurting your team; it just seems, to me, that you're being really sensitive. I don't even see any behavior that you could confront. I mean, do you confront everyone that comments on your teaching?

    Just ignore her comments and stop sharing your materials with her if you want. Unless she is undermining you to Admin, I wouldn't give her behavior a second thought. You shouldn't let her critiques bother you.

    Also, she might be offended to know that you are forwarding emails she sent to you to your teammates. Seems shady on your part.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Seems to me that if the rest of the team comments on it - as is reported to be the case - then cat's concerns can't be chalked up quite so easily to oversensitivity.
     
  11. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Sometimes, people comment on things when they are provoked to. OP said that she sent a copy of the email from the teacher to the SPED teacher to get feedback/opinions; this can set up a situation where people start commenting on things they otherwise might not have noticed.
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    And sometimes people copy other members of the team in response to encouragement. It's at least a possibility; why are you so certain that it's appropriate to dismiss out of hand?
     
  13. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I copied the one note to a teacher who had been left out of the email loop. The other teacher who had commented on this issue did so on her own after a series of emails among the three of us, and I had not solicited her opinion.

    Honestly, I normally let this kind of pettiness roll off my back, but it has started to affect the team's ability to function. Most recently she blew off a deadline I had set for getting data for an official team meeting. This is a big deal because our data meetings are part of a state grant. Her justification was that she disagreed that our selection of what data we would use would be worthwhile.
     
  14. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    This is problematic.

    Do you share a supervisor (or, are you the supervisor)? Document and report if this continues.

    If she disagreed, she should have made her case to the team and then let the team decide the best route. If the team decided against her idea, she still needs to do it.

    I tend to be blunt. I would tell her for the team to continue to function well, she can't make up her own rules.
     
  15. daisycakes

    daisycakes Companion

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    I think you are being too sensitive.
     
  16. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I don't see the OP is being too sensitive. I see it as more like being the straw that broke the camel's back.
     
  17. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I handle this type of behavior with responding to it in a matter of fact but sharp type of tone. It's hard to explain, but it's not confrontational, no one can say I'm unprofessional, but I feel like I stand up for myself.
    I hate people that are described in the OP's post, she's passive aggressive and subtly catty. You really have to listen to your gut feeling, logic will say she's not in the wrong, but you can't quiet that strange feeling that she talked down to you. For me, I have to stand up for myself to feel at peace.
     

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