Navigating the politics

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by americanodude, May 10, 2008.

  1. americanodude

    americanodude Rookie

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    May 10, 2008

    I haven't found a contract yet (just finished my student teaching and am in a frenzy applying for positions.) I am REALLY concerned about the politics involved. Any advice for navigating through it all? My biggest concern is dealing with administration that just might not like you. It seems as though you can be completely "blacklisted" for no good reason at all. It's sad and absurd.
     
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  3. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    May 11, 2008

    I believe that in most schools, the people in charge are generally good people who want what's best for their school, and there's no conspiracy to axe the good teachers and promote the bad.

    That said, I have taught at a school where the principal was unscrupulous and those who had risen to the top as department chairs or grade level leaders weren't always the best people. For my own sanity, I needed to transfer somewhere else.

    The teachers at my new school sometimes complain about feeling unsupported, but the truth is that ultimately you will be supported if you do your job well (if they only knew what it was like at my old school!). We had a new AP this year who was a bit clueless and came down too hard on us at the beginning of the year, but when the principal heard of it, he told her that we were good teachers and she didn't need to nitpick with us. She does have one teacher on an improvement plan, but that teacher has been notoriously incompetent for years. So after the initial scary period when she seemed to be critiquing and documenting every little thing we did, she is now only doing that for a teacher who really deserves it (comes in after school has begun--I personally have had to cover the beginning of her classes several times--, lets kids leave early, doesn't assign outside reading, has been found asleep in office when she was supposed to have class, etc.).

    Of course, to hear that teacher tell it, she is the hapless victim of a cruel regime. I heard her whining the other day, "But if she had come in to my third period I WOULD have been teaching!" So even after being on this improvement plan, the AP still caught her doing nothing with her class, and she still didn't see what was wrong with that. So when you hear stories about teachers being unfairly targeted and fired, you should realize that there is probably another side to that story.

    No matter kind of school you wind up at, you should always:

    *be professional and courteous to all
    *be prompt and stay for the required time
    *fulfill all requirements for what to teach and what meetings to attend
    *be mindful of to whom you say negative things. What might be venting for you might be perceived differently by the person you're talking to.
    *speak up, in a polite but firm manner, if you are mistreated by a colleague or superior. The types of people who bully others will usually back off and move on to someone new once they know you have a backbone.

    Good luck!
     
  4. americanodude

    americanodude Rookie

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    May 12, 2008

    This is really great info to have! I can't imagine doing the things that the teacher you mentioned has been doing. I feel a lot better now! Thank you :)
     
  5. kilgore_trout

    kilgore_trout Rookie

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    May 12, 2008

    my soapbox

    I'm new, too, so I don't know how much my advice is worth :) but, I love to give advice. What I did was be super, super aggressive (I think I applied in more than 50 districts), and then myself. I just feel like, if you have weird issues with the administration right off the bat, they might continue. I don't know, I'm just freaked out reading people's stories about being let go because of administrative beef in their first few years. The aggressiveness came in in that I had the leisure to choose from a few offers, and I took the one where I felt at home right away. Well, talk to me in a few years, but there's my two cents.
     
  6. 1angel

    1angel Rookie

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    May 13, 2008

    One thing is to have some questions ready for the interview of things that are going to really matter to you. Then you can find out about some policies that you may or may not be able to live with. That can be tough as you don't always know what that is yet. Next time I will ask what kind of support the teachers are given, and somehow work in questions about the extra duties that I am required to partake in.

    I like my school in a lot of ways, and I liked my administration very much at the interview. But the teachers are left on their own to solve issues with kids and the extra duties are more than I am willing to handle for many more years (we eat lunch with our class, supervise their recess, and supervise them for 1/2 hour before and after school. If a student is picked up late I have to wait with them until they are gone (and yes this has caused several late nights). We have to attend every school event.

    I like to go to several school events, but everything??? And I now know I would give almost anything to eat lunch with another adult instead of 200 second graders. I can handle recess I love to be outside. The morning supervision--terrible--half the time I'm grouchy before we've even stepped foot in the classroom.

    At the time these seemingly little issues did not seem to matter for an interview, but now I see how worth it those little questions would have been.

    Another thing from my experience-I had one interview that I loved the school, but afterwards I could not settle down. I was pacing and pacing and I kept talking about the questions they asked. It actually took me months to realize the problem had been how much I had not cliqued with the principal. Part of me realized that and part of me was so caught up in wanting to work in the beautiful school. So my point is--be sure to pay attention to your reactions as you interview and afterward.

    I know there are things I really don't like at the school I chose, but in the interview although I was very nervous, I was also very much at ease.

    I know a principal who puts people through hoops and jumps and basically hires the person at the finish line (she actually puts them through a sort of obstacle couse: go to room such and such and write a paragraph on some education topic, then at this time go to room such and such, when they get their there will be a class in session, you don't know it but you are suppose to talk to the teacher who will tell you that you're to help her and then you get sent elsewhere for the next hoop and the next jump). One thing she told me was that I should never go through the hoops and jumps because that is not who I am. And since that is not who I am I shouldn't work somewhere that is going to do that. I am stubborn and tend to do things my way. So I had to find a school that would support that. Fortunately I did--now if I can just take care of the luch issue I'll be just fine!

    Well I hope my babbling gives you a little something you can use!
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    May 13, 2008

    Keep your ears open, and your mouth firmly shut! Don't say anything to anyone that you wouldn't want broadcasted on the school loudspeaker! Before you speak, think to yourself
    1. Does this really need to be said?
    2. Will any good come from saying it?


    And when it comes to speaking your mind, remember...if in doubt, DON'T! not until you are a part of your new school's culture, and you actually fully understand the politics that are going on.

    Good luck!
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 14, 2008

    My thoughts exactly!

    Beyond that, just do your best to be a good, competent, and fair teacher. Don't say anything to a student that you wouldn't say to a room full of your colleagues, principal, and parents.

    Be kind. Say hello to or smile at everyone you walk past in the halls--teachers, students, staff, whatever. If people are going to talk about you, you'd rather have them say, "Oh, is that the one who is always in a good mood? I don't really know him/her, but s/he seems nice..." than "Oh, is that the one who always looks like a grump?"
     
  9. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 14, 2008

    Welcome to Mayberry-Andy Griffithville, USA

    I have come to some conclusions, though I doubt I will heed my own advice.. Perhaps this is why I am unemployed.

    I decided that schools are institutions, in every since of the word! :rolleyes: Working in a school is just like living in Mayberry, complete with Sheriff Andy, Deputy Fife, Aunt Bea, Floyd and all the Opie's you can imagine..

    Everybody knows what everyone is doing. They just read in the paper (bulletin, email) to see if they got caught.

    Even Gomer and Goober know what is going on, and what is going down. Don't be fooled by their goofy appearance. They are smarter than you think.

    When the Sheriff is away...somebody will step up and take over. If you think nobody is watching the store...just act a fool, and you will hear about it as soon as you come in the next day.

    And..

    School is a place for social butterflies. Shy, stick-to-themselves, work-alone types need not apply. If you do not get along well with others, prefer to eat lunch in your class, and don't talk much...you have my deepest sympathies.

    School is not a place where we pour info into little heads, watch AYP figures go up, and then sign out and leave at 3:20 pm. Oh no there is much more than that. You can be caring, considerate, go above and beyond the call...and make connections with your students. Be an inspiration to parents and the community.

    That is still not enough!

    You must also notice everyone's haircut..new dress, new car...new boyfriend...in that order.

    I wish somebody told me this when I was doing my undergrad work! :|

    If it is different where you are, let me know..so I can send resumes!
     
  10. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 14, 2008

    never pass around an evelope without signing card and sticking a few bucks in it.

    never forget princpal's birthday..

    never call in sick on a field trip day..

    other than that...you should be good.

    :rolleyes:
     
  11. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 14, 2008

    oh yeah...

    there are 2 lead teachers in every grade level.

    the ones with seniority...

    and the ones who kiss up!
     

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