Have you ever worked at a school with a really negative culture

Discussion in 'General Education' started by futureteach24, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. futureteach24

    futureteach24 Companion

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    Dec 28, 2014

    I was just reflecting on my short career as a teacher thus far. My new school seems to really care about the kids and their success. My last school was filled with staff, students, and parents that were unbelievably disrespectful and hateful. I'm still traumatized, and I haven't worked there since May. What would lead an ENTIRE school to be like that?
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Poor leadership.

    I've worked in a very negative school, but I wouldn't describe people as being disrespectful or hateful. In fact most of the faculty was kind and helpful, although they had negative opinions about school polices and goals.
     
  4. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    I agree with poor leadership. Also, challenging issues like poverty. My last school was a negative environment, but I think most people were just stressed and exhausted from dealing with troubled kids and their families.

    It could also be one or two badly behaved people spreading negativity. People who disagree or want to avoid drama might be flying under the radar.
     
  5. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I used to sub at a school with extreme negativity. The teacher turnover rate was high and the students were violent on a regular basis. The biggest problem there was a lack of community support. School funding for the district has been voted down all but once in the almost ten years I've lived in the region. There are simply too many students in a school system which is too cramped to support them and too poor to expand their infrastructure. I was very happy to take a position elsewhere.
     
  6. vateacher757

    vateacher757 Cohort

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    Dec 28, 2014

    Leadership

    I worked at a school that was miserable........the stress level was HIGH, most of the staff was unfriendly....you'd walk by someone, admin included, and they wouldn't speak, admin YELLED at the staff and reprimanded staff in front of students, staff quit or retired during the school year....it was a nightmare and terrible.....I am so glad I am out of that environment.
     
  7. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I agree with the leadership. My school culture is very negative and so/so depending on who you talk to. I'm not miserable there but plenty of people are and the turn over rate is fairly high compared to similar schools in the area. I think 90% of it has to deal with principal. Luckily for me I deal with my AP most of the time and I don't let the other stuff get to me.
     
  8. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I also think when major changes are made without even an attempt at teacher buy-in first. I wouldn't say my campus is negative, but I do know many people are overwhelmed right now and I can totally see it going in that direction if nothing is done. Right now my P just has the attitude of-don't like it, go somewhere else--instead of looking at what they could do to improve it or give support.
     
  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Leadership, definitely!

    I've woeked T the same school for 22 years under three principals. It's definitely different with each one.

    Of course the teachers and students play an role as well. It's not all on the leadership.
     
  10. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Leadership is the biggest factor, but it's a combination of a lot of things. My first school had to be the most miserable workplace on Earth. I taught 3rd grade and had a combination of 6 different grade level partners....somebody was leaving every couple months in multiple grade levels. It was a charter school that paid $15,000 less than the local district. Literally the teachers across the street taught the same population with better resources and way more money. We had a very low SES population that brought social/emotional issues to school. There were fights hourly. We lacked technology, curriculum, anything.

    But our Principal really took the cake. She hired absolutely incompetent support staff, fired the 1 good AP we had, and somehow managed to have the school do WORSE under her tenure. She had a little closet off her office where she'd set up crucifixes and go "pray for a while" when things "got difficult." Sometimes she was gone for 4 hours at a time.

    I still can't believe I made it through the year. (Side note - She didn't. She told me I was a "bad fit" for the school and nonrenewed me. Shortly thereafter the charter network fired her as an administrator and I was hired at my current amazing and functional school. :lol:)
     
  11. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Dec 28, 2014

    Leadership can be one of many factors.

    Several years ago, I worked under an awful principal. She was demoted a couple of years ago. Now, I see her at my district-wide VP meetings. Yikes.

    Every site has a few teachers who are Negative Nellies. We've got a couple at my current site. I actually feel sad for them. Both seem very unhappy in general. Recently, though, one of them lost a lot of weight and is dating someone, so her vibes have changed quite a bit! I'm happy for her.
     
  12. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    Its funny because I have worked at the same school for ten years, and it has gone through some major changes. It has always been a good place to work and never a terrible place at all.

    However, when I first started, we had a principal who was nice and apparently successful in the past, but at this point hardly ever left his office and pretty much had one foot out the door. He cared about the sports program and not much else, and he didnt really hide that fact.

    The superintendent at that time was a genuine scumbag and squeezed all of the departments financially. He talked down to the supervisors and ogled the female teachers. He required 18 hours of professional development after school taught by other teachers, and no one really wanted to do it because it felt punitive. He would give us endless presentations with pie charts and almost never mentioned the students. We had massive construction going on at that time too, and you could tell that this superintendent undertook this so he could put it on his resume. The company he contracted was unprofessional, and was clearly the cheapest possible. Oh, and he gave himself a big raise and had an affair with his secretary (despite being married).

    Our assistant principal at that time was very nice but the students walked all over him. He bargained with the students about their detentions (re-scheduling them until it was convenient for the student, etc). The students ran the place and were often extremely disrespectful and hostile (never violent), toward new teachers especially.

    Then we had a changing of the guard. We got a new superintendent first. She somehow found money everywhere, and really addressed our needs. Not everyone loved her, but I liked her a lot because she was tough, smart, and the initiatives she implemented actually helped the students and teachers. She also updated the entire school technologically with smart boards and laptops and security cameras.

    Then we got a new principal. He clearly cared a lot, was equally respectful of all of the teachers, and is actually a human being everyone could relate to. I think everyone knew he would have your back as well, and that made a big difference.

    We also got a new assistant principal, and he ROCKED the discipline at the school. He had a good relationship with the students but they were kind of afraid of him, and he made sure that consequences were given on his terms. The students have become INFINITELY more respectful overall. He also had the teachers' backs (he just left and its a bummer).

    Currently, the superintendent has retired, and the principal has now taken her place. So, we have a new principal, and she has turned out to be warm and makes a sincere effort to reach all of the teachers and thank us often.

    I can't tell you how much the entire mood of the school has changed over the last 10 years. I remember that during my 4th-5th year I was really down about the school, now I can't believe how great it has been to work at. It really IS leadership. We have great leaders, and of course it helps that our staff tends to be really nice and invested in the students as well!
     
  13. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    Wow. Just, wow.

    This is part of the reason I distrust Charter schools. There isn't much of a blueprint for them and they need VERY strong leadership and vision if they are to work. And the pay is often so much lower--I guess that's why so many politicians like them (lower taxes!? no unions!?)
     
  14. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Our Superintedent did this a few years ago, too. The Board paid him a huge chunk of change to convince him to take an "early retirement." :rolleyes:
     
  15. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I worked at a school with a terrible culture and it was definitely due to poor leadership. Both the P and AP were absolutely horrible. Thankfully I loved my own teammates but many of the teachers were difficult as well. However, that was due to the fact that the P played people off of each other and made everything a competition. We were discouraged from collaborating and most teachers didn't trust each other. The student population was extremely difficult as well; I was teaching in the area that is considered to be the worst in my city. 100% of our students qualified for free lunch. Student behaviors were out of control, but again this was largely due to the fact that admin would not let us use any real consequences. We weren't allowed to take anything away, and the way we ran our classrooms was largely micromanaged by admin so there was no way to build in your own rewards/consequences. The only "consequence" allowed was calling parents, and with that population calling parents is largely ineffective since the parents typically don't see the behavior as a problem, blame the teacher, and/or simply don't have the resources to give out consequences at home. Parents of the better behaved kids were telling them to hit back when someone bullied them because they realized the bully wasn't going to get in any sort of trouble, and I can't say I blame them. Admin constantly demeaned and yelled at teachers in front of the whole staff. They did daily walkthroughs where they would leave giant lists of every nit picky thing teachers were doing wrong. We were told we would receive positive feedback when the state test scores were above 80% proficient. It would have been a tough school to work at anyway given the population, but good leadership could have solved a lot of our problems. Leadership at the district level was very corrupt as well. This was 3 years ago and that principal is still at that school implementing her reign of terror with no consequences. The school has about 50 teachers and only 3 of those are teachers I worked with 3 years ago- all three have too many years in to have any hope of being hired elsewhere.
     
  16. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    Haha! You know what is funny is that this Superintendent I describe retired from our district, then got a superintendent position in another state (getting a salary while collecting a pension…did I mention he's a scumbag?)…and the new district asked him to leave WITH PAY--that's how much they couldn't stand him.
     
  17. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I worked in schools like that when I was in my student teaching AND interning.

    And yes, it's all about leadership. The first principal only cared about test scores.

    The second principal, I could tell would have been a great principal, but she was never around because she was getting set up to retire that year, and the only one left to run things was her AP who was HORRIBLE at literally everything. Didn't have the teachers' backs, would be a bad manager, etc.
     
  18. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    That's rather annoying that he gets rewarded with extra pay and retirement for misconduct.
     
  19. Luv2TeachInTX

    Luv2TeachInTX Comrade

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    Yes I have. It's the school I left for my current one actually. It was a very cutthroat environment where everyone was out for themselves. i am SO happy to be out of there. My current school is high poverty and mobility with very challenging students, but the supportive nature of my admin and colleagues makes it all worth it. We all look out for each other and support one another. It makes all the difference.
     
  20. kb90531

    kb90531 Rookie

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    Yes. Thankful to say quitting after a month and a half was the best decision I ever made. I am back in my happy place.
     
  21. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    This made me laugh because I was about to go on here and talk about how much more positive the environment is in both charters I've worked for than in the public schools I student taught in! :lol: Charters get a bad rap, but they're just like public schools - some are terrible, some are fabulous!

    You're right though, charters do need strong leadership and vision to work. But I would argue that public schools do, too. I've seen superintendents run districts into the ground, and principals run schools into the ground.

    The pay is usually lower, but not always SO MUCH lower. The lower pay at my current school is totally worth it. Environment and freedom (and my own mental health) are more important to me.

    I student taught in one school with a semi-negative culture, and another with a VERY negative culture. It wasn't just leadership, though that was part. Both of those schools were having issues because of district leadership. They were lower performing, low income schools in districts that were very split - SUPER rich and SUPER poor - and the schools in poor neighborhoods were policed like crazy. It was a very unpleasant, tense environment at both schools because of district mandates and "big brother" always threatening and watching. Ironically, one of the districts was one of the highest paying in the area...I don't think salaries have a ton to do with morale, to be very honest. I make much less than those teachers did, and I'm very happy. I would never want to teach in that district, even for the huge raise. (It's not just because I'm at a charter that the salaries are different - I used to live in SoCal - higher salaries in general.)

    My current school has a VERY positive culture. It's because of leadership, freedom (which comes from our leadership), parent involvement...to name a few. We are treated as professionals and our decisions are respected. We aren't forced to follow specific programs, etc. It makes all the difference.
     
  22. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    "Have you ever worked at a school with a really negative culture?"

    My entire 20+ year career. It's a vicious cycle.....the principal (selfish and negative), the assistant principals (selfish and negative), the parents (selfish and negative), the kids (selfish and negative), and the teachers (selfish and negative).

    One feeds off of the other. It's a systemic problem that no one person or group is going to change all by itself/themselves.


    :dunno:
     

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