Needy colleagues?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by linswin23, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Sep 27, 2013

    Hi everyone,

    This is kind of a vent session....I've been needing this.

    My school has a very helpful, friendly, and positive culture. I love my school very much and love collaborating with everyone as much as possible. However...I have a colleague who tends to take up too much of my personal and prep time. I teach 7th grade reading and one section of freshman English, while she teaches only freshman English. I taught in her room her last year and we worked closely together since I was throw into teaching the overflow section of 9th graders in order for her to have a prep period. She really saved my butt, since I had zero time to prep before the school year started. I consider her a good friend, but sometimes I need a break.

    This year, I am still teaching the overflow section of 9th graders, but am teaching in my own room. We still work together and I appreciate the collaboration, but it seems like she needs help with everything and constantly calls me, texts me, and this usually happens after school hours. I'm only a third year teacher and she's been teaching the same subject for 6 years, so it sometimes doesn't make sense as to why she constantly asks for my help. When she calls, or when we talk at school it's hard to break away from her because she's the type where it's hard to get a word in. For different policies and extra duties we take on at my school (that we have been doing for years now, such as applying for a grant every year) she always asks for my help and acts like everything is a huge crisis.

    I'm a type B personality, but am very organized and get things done quickly. I try not to take work home and honor my personal time--especially the weekends and evenings to revamp, recharge, and unwind, and when she calls me during these times to talk about work I feel like ignoring her calls/texts.

    Any advice? I want to help and collaborate, but I can't do it all the time...I still have my other grade level to prep AND a personal life to tend to!
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Sep 27, 2013

    I UNDERSTAND. I'll be reading the responses...
     
  4. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Sep 27, 2013

    Of course you are grateful to her for helping you so much in your first year.

    You need to set some limits for her. You can do this in a kind, but firm way. You do not have to respond to all of her calls and texts. Decide how many calls or texts you would like to respond to. Maybe once or twice a week after school would work for you. Then limit your responses to just that. You can taper this off if you find that even that is too much.

    There is a saying that I use for my teenage daughters when they come to me with a "crisis", such as when it is 10:00 at night and they say, "I need some poster paper for my project due tomorrow!". It is this: Your urgency is not my emergency. When she comes to you for help with her big crisis, think those words in your mind. You do not have to take care of her. She is capable of doing it herself.
     
  5. Melanie Therese

    Melanie Therese Rookie

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    Sep 27, 2013

    It sounds to me like you truly do need to find a way you are comfortable communicating a couple of specific things:

    1. She won't start to feel more confident doing the work she is responsible for if she doesn't try to do it on her own. If you can express that in a way that you're comfortable with you could then go on to offer to look over her work "the first couple of times" so that she can feel more confident in what she has done.

    2. You don't enjoy talking about work when you aren't at work. This one's a little tougher because it's pretty straight up. You might just have to break that one to her as gently as possible. I don't know if you would be comfortable simply beginning to ignore her texts and calls during your personal time, but you could try that. Not all of them right away, but start responding to fewer and fewer of her communications over the course of a couple of weeks or a month. Sort of gradually wean her off your off-hours.

    I think it would be a good idea to tackle them separately. Maybe try to start dealing with her talking work issue immediately, and then the project issue the next time she brings something to you.

    Good luck!
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Sep 27, 2013

    In school, have a folder in your hands at all times...unless you are able to address her issue quickly tell her you are on your way to a meeting.

    At home- get caller id.
     
  7. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Sep 27, 2013

    Thanks for the responses, everyone. I appreciate the advice!
     
  8. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Sep 27, 2013

    1. Don't answer her calls. If she asks why, tell her you have a lot going on at home this year and don't have time to deal with work problems at home.

    2. At work: if you are doing a task when she interrupts you to talk, continue what you are doing, do not stop for her. While she is talking to you, ignore her or curtly respond, do not make eye contact with her, and do not engage in conversation. If you're grading papers or on your computer, do not stop to engage her. Make it obvious that she is bothering you and you do not have time for it. If she doesn't get the point; say, "I'm busy and I'll try to get back to you when I can." Then keep it moving.
     
  9. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Sep 28, 2013

    Agreed. Just don't go to your room for the said meeting.

    At my school we have been told that we should keep our doors locked at all times. Some teachers even have their desk in such a place that you can't see it through the little window by the door. They also turn out their lights. There is enough natural light to see.

    If I don't feel like talking, I simply don't answer the phone. A text doesn't bother me as much, but I sometimes take my time replying.
     
  10. 1cubsfan

    1cubsfan Companion

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    Sep 28, 2013

    I would just stop answering all of her calls and wait awhile to reply to her texts. Say something like, "Sorry! Had stuff to attend to at home... What's up?" This isn't a lie; you do have things to do at home. Honestly, she probably has NO idea that she is inconveniencing you. So, don't let her be an inconvenience. Answer at your own leisure, and don't feel guilty for not answering or taking your time.
     
  11. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Sep 28, 2013

    Thanks again, everyone. I've been doing a few of the things you mentioned since the start of the school year. Yesterday she called me and then texted me asking what my plans were (this was at the end of the day) and I honestly just wanted to sit in my classroom and get a few things done before heading home. I called her and the first thing I said was that I was leaving in a few minutes and had to get a few things done in my room--she seemed to get the message, and that was that! I'm just going to have to wean herself off of my help. I'm not the only one she does this to--she has a few other teachers who she latches onto. One of our admins had to tell her that she needs to gain more confidence in herself.
     

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