Dealing with Admin

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Isles2279, Mar 7, 2015.

  1. Isles2279

    Isles2279 Rookie

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    Mar 7, 2015

    This is my third year teaching, and I have a handle on the classroom management and teaching aspects of the job, but what I don't seem to be able to do is navigate through the political process of endearing myself to school and district administration. What's the secret here? My first year of teaching was at a school where the administration was completely hands off...I loved it, and wanted to stay but it was a temporary position and the school took on a forced transfer from another school to fill my position. The Principal there liked me and all went well, but what can you do? Next, I moved my family across CA to keep teaching (there weren't any openings in my area...it's small and I hold a specialized credential). At that school, I was miserable because the administration liked to control all aspects of our teaching methodology...coming from such a freely creative environment, I felt smothered and knew I wanted to move back on home after the first month. The district office was on-campus, and through my division chair, I heard they had always been fearful I would not mesh well because I was my own man. Regardless, the chairperson wanted me back and was willing to go to bat for me, but I wanted out, let them know I did in early January, and at the end of the school year, moved the family back home and took my third position in three years at a local high school. This year, the school district had their own induction program, and I seemed to rub those in charge of it the wrong way, so while the unbelievably large number of informal and formal observations I had in the classroom went extremely well, I was not renewed for next year. It certainly doesn't seem to help that I'm a native New Yorker (personality included!), teaching in California...for whatever reason, my intentions seem to get misinterpreted often. The thing is, I've tried this out both ways now....at the second school, I was my typical outspoken self. This year I suppressed that instinct and mostly listened at meetings (although I always participated when required). Last year, the only portion of my evaluations which reflected a Needs Improvement were based on my penchant for speaking my mind too often in meetings. This year I was dinged on my reviews for being too quiet...not participating enough in the district induction meetings and department collaborations. So, now I've been non-renewed and made myself unhappy by not being myself. What's the secret? I seem to have good intentions but bad instincts at this aspect of teaching.
     
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  3. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Connoisseur

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    Mar 7, 2015

    Maybe the adage of keeping quiet until tenure would work. Rubbing admin the wrong way before tenure gives them ammunition to get rid of you no matter how well you teach. That's my impression.
     
  4. MissMae

    MissMae Rookie

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    Mar 7, 2015

    You're not going to like it, but you need to pretend to be someone else to play the game. I hate even saying that, but its true. I've been involved in the same district since the beginning of my program, then through student teaching, and on to getting hired. Admin knew who we all were the moment we entered the program. It was a year long interview process. I keep my mouth shut for the most part, and only speak when giving supportive thoughts. Opinions that go against the grain I keep to myself, or only discuss with the team I did student teaching with. All the teachers at my school have "second" personalities. It sucks that no one can be themselves, but that's the game. Basically, being a teacher has given strength to my acting abilities LOL
     
  5. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I wholeheartedly echo everything Pi-R-Squared & MissMae stated!
     
  6. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Play the game as best you can, for the sake of your students. You're in the right place as far as they are concerned.
     
  7. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I need to add something: administrators do not have tenure. They can get rid of us at any time. I keep my mouth shut during district-level meetings--unless I have something positive to say, that is.

    I smile & nod...even if I don't necessarily agree with the directive I've been given.
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I am also horrible at "playing the game." You really just have to find a school that's a good fit for you (and continue to work on the aspects of "playing the game" that are hard for you). I've worked in 3 districts. My first one and my current one have admins that appreciate my teaching abilities without me having to schmooze. I'm a quiet and introverted person by nature. I'm not bffs with my principal but she knows I'm a good teacher and appreciates what I do for our kids. While I don't agree with every single thing she does, I think she's a good principal, so that helps. If there's something I don't agree with, I think of this phrase my mom always says- "Is this the hill you're going to die on?" Most of the time, the answer is no- I don't speak up about unnecessary paperwork or stupid things we do in meetings. However, if it's something that directly and negatively impacts my students, I usually speak up. Since I don't complain often, when I do people tend to take notice and realize the issue is serious. The admin at my 2nd school was terrible and I couldn't stand a single thing about her. I wasn't very good at faking it either. I certainly wasn't abrasive with her or anything like that, but I did my absolute best to ignore her and keep my head down. In all of my evaluations she went on about how great I was in the classroom, but how my personality was a big issue for her. Honestly, IMO this is just further proof that she's a terrible admin when the fact that I don't seek her out to chat about my weekend is more important to her than the fact that my class had the best data in the school.

    I totally know what you mean about the NY attitude. I work with a teacher from NY. After working with her for awhile, I realized she has good intentions and doesn't mean to be rude at all, but she often comes off as extremely abrasive. I know it's not your fault where you're from, but if you realize people don't react positively to the attitude than you need to try to make changes. The biggest thing I notice with this teacher is that her tone is often harsh and she is very abrupt- try to soften your tone and explain your thinking more when speaking and it may help. For example, this teacher was just upset about something that happened in an RtI mtg last week, and she basically said very abrasively, "No one made that clear to me" and stalked away. A lot of people in the mtg were offended. Something like, "I feel this part of the mtg. was confusing, can you explain it again?" would have been much better received. This one incident isn't a big deal, but that's how she talks all of the time!
     
  9. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    So you will not stand up for something you believe in if it is in opposition to your superiors point of view?
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Probably not if his job's at stake.

    I'm glad I got tenure last year. It's a world of difference how much I seem to be willing to speak out this year than last. Granted, me and my P have the same ideas on most things, and I'm mostly speaking out against people at the district.

    Mind, I'm as civil as possible, but clear and cutting when the situation requires.

    I think a lot of it is just ending up with a good admin to begin with. We have a great admin team at our school and I know that I'm EXTREMELY lucky based on all of the posts I read here at times.

    I'm just a little worried about being seen as the 'Principal's Pet'. Certain teachers are starting sentences towards me saying "Since you have an 'in' win the P, can you...?" since I've been working closely with her for tech stuff.

    I would just remember that an interview works both ways. You should be getting the feel of the person interviewing you (hopefully the p) as much as they are getting a feel for you, so that you both know you are right for each other.

    I remember a certain interview with a principal that I thought "I'll never work with her," as soon as I left. I guess they didn't like me either because I never got a call from them.
     
  11. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Publicly? No.

    I guess I could--if I wanted to get demoted or not have my contract renewed.

    Here's what I do, though. I let my staff know about the directive I've been given. I am very forthcoming with them. Then, I tell them that I will try to make the process as seamless as possible (to the best of my ability, that is). For example, our kindergarten and first grade teachers are responsible for complete the District Progress Assessment. It's a one-on-one test that takes many days to complete. What are the kids doing during all these testing days? Busy work! Solution: allow the part-time reading clinicians (who are fully credentialed teachers) to work overtime in the afternoons to pull each kindergartener and first grader for testing. It's a win-win: the classroom teacher doesn't have to worry about wasting so much instructional time to get the testing done AND the part-time teachers (aka clinicians) get overtime pay.

    This is one example of how I try to take things off the teachers' plates. Yes--I'm doing my job (which is to submit each child's test score to the district office), but I'm getting the testing done my way! The D.O. doesn't tell me how to complete my duties--they just tell me to do it!
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Judging from his posts here, I'll guess that YoungTeacherGuy does have his limits but that, happily, he doesn't currently foresee a situation in which his superiors would push him beyond them.

    It is a fine thing to be able to distinguish the hills on which one is willing to die from the ones that are primarily just real estate. It is also a fine thing to recognize that other people's mental maps of what is surely subjective terrain don't have to correspond in every detail to one's own.
     
  13. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I feel it's a combination of things. Remember, when you go to an interview, you're interviewing them. I've left interviews, knowing that I probably wouldn't take the job if offered to me or that it would be for 1 year only & I'd keep looking.

    For me, it's important to be able to go to my superior, in my case the Principal, and tell him that I disagree with something and why. I do it in a respectful manner. He also knows that even though I just disagreed with him and told him why, I'm going to do what he asked of me.

    Just make sure that you are not constantly disagreeing with the higher ups. Pick your battles & be respectful. Know what you can & cannot do.
     
  14. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I am terrible at putting my head down and not speaking up. When I do speak up, it always respectfully and usually worded positively or as a question. It also is saved for issues I feel strongly about.

    I know this is a part of who I am, and honestly, I am okay with that. So I try my best to find employers who respect that or at least are okay with it. My current school is great and respects teachers' opinions; my last did not.
     
  15. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Agreed, it should always be done respectfully.

    I personally think it is a major flaw/issue when principals will not/cannot disagree with their superiors.

    I would have a very difficult time working for an admin who was not able to voice their concerns that run counter to the district.
     
  16. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    Hmm, this is very interesting. What ARE the characteristics of of New Yorkers other than being more outspoken? And do you mean NY state or city?

    My American home state is NY, I've lived in Brooklyn for ~10 years right after we immigrated. However, I've been tightly communicating with 2 major groups there, Russians and orthodox Jewish people that we worked for.

    So, I don't really know what people consider NY's personality.

    Also, when we moved to Houston after being in NY for 8 years I was surprised at first how did people in Houston right away knew I was from the NE as soon as I walked in the store! Eventually, I figured out it's the accent (well, mine is russian+northeastern), plus the manor of moving and talking fast.
     
  17. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Connoisseur

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    Mar 9, 2015


    Watch Sex and the City and the Sopranos. :D :lol:
     
  18. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Mar 9, 2015

    I hate having to play the "Game". I feel like I'm selling my soul. When I just have to deal with my kids I feel happy, challenged in the right ways, and like I have a REAL purpose. However, when dealing with admin I just feel like another number sometimes. It sucks.
     
  19. Isles2279

    Isles2279 Rookie

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    I'm from Long Island, with parents from Brooklyn and the Bronx. In my opinion, native New Yorkers are direct, which most Californians don't seem to like very much. It seems to get misconstrued as a bad mood....not totally sure about that, but I know much of what I say gets misinterpreted and I'm often amazed when I find out later that something I said offended someone, when I never meant it in a negative way at all. It's a Catch-22 also....the same qualities which seem to force a wedge between myself and administration, endear me to my students....they seem to find the manner with which I engage them on a variety of levels, endearing. That aspect is great, but it's a total liability with the powers-that-be.
     
  20. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    So, you think that Californians, on the whole are less direct than the New Yorkers? I was under the impression that THEY are so outspoken out there in a sunny California, after all, they are in many ways the first state in so many issues, like gay and lesbians, etc.
    I totally realize we're talking big generalizations here.

    I wonder if you just were unlucky to get in "bad" school where they don't like directness!
     

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