Hostile work environment - no admin support, no union

Discussion in 'General Education' started by sapphireblue, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. sapphireblue

    sapphireblue New Member

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    Dec 14, 2013

    This will be long, sorry.

    9th year in education, I am a librarian. This is my second year at this school and I have never been in such an unprofessional environment. Last year I caught an aide gossiping about me; I confronted her about it and told her it was wrong. Apparently that made a mortal enemy out of her; many principal meetings later, NOTHING happened, even though she spread rumors about me and alienated many of my co-workers against me. To this day, she continues to passive-aggressively work against me (i.e., she is supposed to cover me for my 30-min lunch and she is almost always 10 mins late).

    ANYWAY, these teachers at this school also run to supervisors to whine and complain instead of bringing it up with the teacher themselves. A certain group of teachers, spurred on by this aide, brought up complaints about me to my super. My super just accepted what they said without even getting my side.

    This just happened yesterday. I have a private office with a printer in it. Sometimes others print things to it. Students tape up things to my wall; I don't pay much attention. One of my girl aides, that I've gotten to know very well, posted up a pic of her pushing one of my boy aides off of a cliff and falling into the mouth of a whale looking thing. On it she wrote, this is how i would kill ____. NOW...at the time she did, 8th grade classes were writing stories about how they would kill someone (re-enacting Poe) so it came from that. But anyway, it was very obviously a joke if you know these kids--they are very good friends and have a crush on each other.

    Apparently when I was absent Thursday, people were in my office, saw the picture, and became VERY offended. My super ambushed me the next day and said people were sending her emails, "blowing up" her phone about it, etc. She said it was inappropriate b/c the girl said she was going to kill the boy. I get that if you don't know the background, it might be disturbing, but it's very obviously a joke (cartoonish). I just KNOW it's the aide and other group of people, b/c they are the only ones who go in my office. They are targeting me yet again.

    Part of me wants to have a meeting with super (since she NEVER let me explain, just ambushed me, told me she took it down off my wall and it upset a lot of my co-workers). 8th grade English classes had their kids write very graphic stories killing people -- where was the pearl-clutching then? That same day, yesterday, they played a song over the loudspeaker that clearly said, "Maybe I should kill myself." Again, if a cartoon picture offended them so much, then all these things should be offensive. Otherwise, clearly I am being harassed. But part of me thinks it will get me nowhere...my super is "friends" with this clique.

    What do I do? My principal himself did zero last year even faced with hardcore evidence and documentation of harassment and a hostile environment. Do I just give up and look for somewhere else, or do I fight the fight?

    (BTW I asked the boy again if the pic the girl drew bothered him, and he about fell over laughing at how ridiculous my question was.)

    Thanks for your help.
     
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  3. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Dec 14, 2013

    Unfortunately, the circumstances you describe are escalating annually in school districts around the country. (And it can happen even WITH a union in place since most union leaders are feathering their own nests and the rest of the membership be damned.) It's what's turning people away from education as a career choice, either in college or while they're in it now (and leaving).

    It sounds as if you're in a no-win situation, to be honest with you. If you think you can land a spot in another district, I would start sending out the applications.

    (Sorry I can't offer you better hope than just that, but it seems to be the nature of the profession anymore.)


    :dunno:
     
  4. sapphireblue

    sapphireblue New Member

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    Dec 14, 2013

    Thanks for your response. It does feel like I CANNOT win at this school. Professionally, I work hard and have many accolades, and I doubt the principal would give me a bad rec. I guess I will start sending out applications for next school year to different places...maybe even a different district! I *was* going to have a meeting with my super to explain all of the above, but I just don't think it will help. Just keep my head down, mouth shut, and keep working.

    Probably the worst thing? The kids there love me and they are READING.
     
  5. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Dec 15, 2013

    I feel your pain! This is the first year at the school I'm at now & it's totally different from what I'm used to. There's not really any professionalism amongst the P & office staff here. Thank God I don't work there all 5 days a week! I hope not to return for a 2nd year.

    Just try to get out of there as fast as you can OR at least finish up the rest of the year if you want. Good luck!

    I admit that how one would kill someone is an odd assignment, espcially in this day & age when we don't have to give kids assignments on this. Too many of them do it in real life anyway. What kind of teacher would have kids do this kind of thing?! I question his/her judgment & common sense.
     
  6. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Companion

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    Dec 15, 2013

    Whether or not you know the picture to be a joke doesn't mean you should allow it to be up. In education, you should always cover your own ass first because you have to worry about what your students, fellow teachers, parents, and admin might think. Why put yourself through the headache when it could have simply been avoided?

    Now don't take me wrong, I'm not blaming you or anything. Going by what you said, there is obviously an agenda. So you should be extra careful about what you do to minimize the stress and do what the poster above said: start looking for another school. Teachers are as bad as students when it comes to bullying. Hell, teachers form cliques to bully other teachers and we go around telling kids to not bully. What hypocrisy. If the problem runs as high as your supervisor then you're fighting a losing battle. I know it sucks to know they will have satisfaction the day they find out you transferred, but you need to just move on and realize people like that will reap the karma they sow.
     
  7. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Dec 15, 2013

    Joke or not... what in the world would have made you think that posting that picture was a good idea???
     
  8. 1st-yr-teacher

    1st-yr-teacher Comrade

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    Dec 15, 2013

    I'm sorry you are going through such a tough situation. I am just flabbergasted over the student's assignment itself. Why are we encouraging our students to think of ways to kill each other? That teacher who assigned that should be getting all the attention.
     
  9. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Dec 15, 2013

    Did anyone throw the book at you yet? You got one the easiest jobs in the building, girl. You just need to chill, smile, and carry on shelving those books and saying 'be quiet.'
     
  10. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Dec 15, 2013

    Agree. I don't (and hope to never ;) ) teach ELA, but it doesn't seem appropriate to contemplate ways to kill someone--Poe or not.
     
  11. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Dec 15, 2013

    I read OP's post to mean that she didn't know the picture was there until it became an issue.
     
  12. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Dec 15, 2013

    :yeahthat:
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Dec 15, 2013

    The teacher who assigned that project was clearly wrong for doing so, but that doesn't absolve you from any kind of responsibility regarding what gets posted in your room/office. The fact that you "don't pay much attention" to what gets posted is sort of your fault, especially since you know that students post things up there. I don't think it's fair to deflect or minimize the issue by saying 1) what the other teacher did was worse, or 2) that it was obviously a joke. The fact is that it bothered some people, including people who outrank you, because it was inappropriate, regardless of the circumstances behind it.

    I think that it might be best for you to look for employment elsewhere for next school year. It sounds like this place is not a good fit for you.
     
  14. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Dec 15, 2013

    I read it as she saw it there and didn't think much of it... but if anything, her not knowing it was there would seem to make it even worse.
     
  15. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Dec 15, 2013

    I would agree with this. Go forth and sin no more. We've all made mistakes.

    What always helps me when stress is high is to focus on the needs of my students. If I'm doing what I need to do to help them become the best educated people possible, I know I'm at least OK.
     

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