New Teacher and Principal Problems-Should I Talk to Human Resources?

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by cbmccar, Aug 25, 2016.

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Should I make the meeting with the Principal or email the Assistant Principal?

  1. Schedule the meeting with the Principal, apologize and ask for a letter of reference

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  2. Ask the Assistant Principal for a reference letter and write an apology to the Principal

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  1. cbmccar

    cbmccar Guest

    Aug 25, 2016

    I've got an important question for those experienced with dealing with Human Resources and Principals (or are in Human Resources or Principals).

    I am a recent college graduate with a certification in English, grades 7-12. Last year, I was hired to be a Building Substitute at a middle school. I understood coming in that there was going to a lot of changes, in fact the school's principal was being moved up from the elementary to the middle school. I did not meet them before they hired me; I only interviewed with the assistant principal.

    A long stretch later, the principal placed me in a World Language classroom (clearly not my certification) for 5 months after firing the previous two teachers. As a new teacher and one that had to teach a subject I had little knowledge in, it was stressful but I tried the best I could with the resources I was given. Being given such an opportunity led me to believe that I was doing well. Even after they found a permanent substitute for the position who had more experience in Languages, I returned to the classroom to help teach and grade papers (at the other subs request).

    In April, she brought me in to her office to talk with me. During this discussion she told me that I had sent a lot of students down to the office, more than anyone else in the whole school, when I asked her for the specific number she refused to tell me (later calculated based on my own records that the number was around 12). I made some suggestions as to how I could improve. But then she brought up the point how she thought I was cold and mean and how neither students nor faculty liked me because of it and if I ever wanted to be a real teacher I should be more outgoing. I was so shocked. I cried through the rest of the discussion. I thought I had been there for my students for both their personal and academic problems. I tried to convey to her how much I cared for the students. I realize I am an introvert but I never considered myself cold.

    A few days later and the situation gnawed at me. So I asked some teachers that I had worked more in depth with what they thought of me as a teacher. Their responses were overwhelmingly positive. They thought I was kind, even a bit of a mush in discipline situations, and went out of my way to help others. They definitely thought I was quiet but respectful. I had asked them how many students they had sent down to the office; their numbers were around the same as mine, if not higher. I even discreetly asked some of my students if they thought I was mean; they had said no. Given that my students from the Language classroom consistently asked for me to visit the classroom to help them if I had no other substitute responsibilities led me to believe that, at least to them, I was not cold or mean. Given the wide array of positive feedback, I was convinced she must have made a mistake. I tried to meet with her before the end of the year, as she had suggested, but in the flurry of proctoring and grading exams, and other events at the end of the school year, I never got around to it.

    Flash forward to a few days ago, I emailed her and asked when school would start and when the assignment letters were going to come out. She told me that I never expressed interest in returning the school and so she hired someone else.

    I am hurt by the whole situation and cannot help but wonder if this is something personal. I feel like I went out of my way for my students and I never explicitly said I would not be interested in returning to the school, so I am unsure of where she even got this information. More importantly, is this even legal? Nowhere on my hiring letter does it say that I had to reapply of the position annually. I plan to go down to Human Resources (since they don't return my calls) to ask about what has been going on.

    I am confused by the whole situation and would like any advice or a different perspective that anyone could provide. What do you think I should do?

    UPDATE: I went to Human Resources and they told me that I was welcome to apply elsewhere in the district. They also said that because of the way things turned out that I technically I was not terminated. The HR person said that they thought that because I did not make a meeting with the principal to discuss things after the original meeting, she could see how the principal could say I was disinterested but that she also understood that I took on a difficult situation in Spanish classroom for 5 months.

    I asked if HR would be able to facilitate a positive letter of reference with the principal. She said that I could not get a letter of reference from HR because they did not know my work personally. She recommended that I make a meeting with the principal to apologize to her about not meeting with her and to tell her how I had improved my skills, and then ask her for a letter of reference.

    The mere idea of meeting with the principal makes me upset. I was thinking that I could at least apologize to the principal through an email and then ask the assistant principal for a reference letter in order to get the letter from someone who is more impartial and avoid the principal poisoning the well in the assistant principal's reference letter though my apology.

    What do you think? Should I make a meeting or write the emails?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2016
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  3. Teachertimes

    Teachertimes Rookie

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    Aug 25, 2016

    I am not sure about legalities but it sounds like a place I wouldn't push to be in.
     
  4. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Aug 25, 2016

    Good luck but it sounds like she didn't want you back and then just found a way to justify it. You can go to HR but I feel like they'll protect their own and just give you a BS runaround answer, if one at all. I had problems and I went to HR this year and they weren't very helpful. I was straight up STOOD UP by one HR rep so... Just don't expect too much from them is all.
     
  5. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Aug 25, 2016

    Truth. It's like joining a club that doesn't want you.
     
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  6. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Aug 25, 2016

    Even if HR is on your side and helps you get your position back... Do you really want it? To be there? With that lady?
     
    Obadiah, Caesar753 and Leaborb192 like this.
  7. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Aug 25, 2016

    Would I go back? No. Can you use the murky nature of how it played out to some advantage? Maybe. At this point, I would reach out to sympathetic staff and ask if they would be comfortable writing LOR for you. If they say yes, press for a date that you need it by. People mean well, but the longer it plays out, the less likely they are to follow through. If there is any member of admin who would be willing to write a decent LOR to avoid confrontation, take it. If you go to HR, I would state that as a condition for leaving quietly. a nice LOR needs to be offered and received Because it is murky, they may push for a resolution that benefits you without causing real problems with the principal. The P may have been looking to clean house, and you were caught in the crossfire. Pointing out to HR that you were accused of creating problems for admin without being given the supporting data to substantiate the allegations, since it would require data on the same variable from all other teachers, it amounts to personal opinion, which is not truly professional. The P may have been having a bad day and exaggerated unintentionally, but the damage to your reputation has been done. Instead of making suggestions about an improvement plan, she took it to a personal attack, which is unprofessional at the very least.

    I would push for an amicable settlement that costs the district little but some give and take, and you will not pursue further actions even though the actions by admin were questionable at best. Common practice dictates that the district would ask for a letter of intent for the coming school year, but that never happened, unfortunately. What you are requesting is a compromise: you don't push the issue or approach a lawyer, and the admin provides a LOR that will have a positive impact as you seek new employment. I would suggest that this is a case of a poor fit that has escalated into a bad situation, when, with more sensitive handling, positive changes could have been made, making everyone happier and promoting professional growth.

    I would not make threats, but I would be very logical and precise in what you need, how the current situation damages your reputation, despite the fact that no opportunity was given to show reflection and growth in your position. The LOR is a pay off, to be sure, but it can benefit you without wounding the Ps pride. With 20/20 hindsight, she must be able to see that she crossed the line, professionally, when she attacked your personality and professional actions without giving you the chance to truly see how you stacked up against your peers. I would also push HR to limit the information that they share if future districts contact them for references. They placed you in a classroom that you were not qualified to teach, and you worked diligently to meet goals, but there has to be some consideration that you were working without experience in that classroom and content area.

    I wouldn't want a face to face with that admin, as she will almost certainly give a different version of the events. Make sure HR knows that everyone knows this was not a good fit, but the blame for that discrepancy is shared by all parties. Tell HR that had you been given support and mentored, this situation could have ended very differently. I would admit to not advocating for myself at the time, since the personal and pointed attack left you wounded and taken aback. I would NOT admit to trying to verify the admin's comments with other staff members, since that is usually a big no-no.

    Make it clear that you are not seeking any kind of financial retribution, but, instead, you are only trying to walk away with your reputation intact, prepared to seek employment elsewhere. Assure HR that you will also agree to simply state that the placement was not a good fit, never bad-mouthing the district or admin. This may get you a decent LOR, which may hopefully get you into a more appropriate job situation.

    The hardest part is presenting without anger, tears, or recrimination. If you can state your case well, your experience can have a fairly happy ending.

    Best of luck!
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 26, 2016

    I don't know how it works in your district, but in mine substitutes are given no promise of future employment. Even if you were a building sub one year, you shouldn't expect to be one the following year unless and until you've been given confirmation from administration.

    While it doesn't sound like your principal is awesome, I really don't get the vibe from your post that she was unfairly targeting you or anything like that. It just sounds like she didn't like you for whatever reason. While that sucks, she's allowed to like or not like people, you know? For whatever reason, this principal may have an inaccurate impression of you; given the circumstances, including the fact that you won't be returning next year, this isn't something you can control. If you're pretty confident that you're a decent person and that most people view you as such, you should try to find a way to let this be.

    For what it's worth, my feelings would be hurt in this situation as well.
     
  9. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Aug 26, 2016

    Get the heck outta dodge!
     
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  10. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Aug 27, 2016

    It's interesting that the principal didn't provide you with a specific number of office referrals; perhaps she doesn't want that on the record. It doesn't sound like she approached you in a positive manner. She wouldn't expect a teacher to approach a student in such a manner, would she? If you don't think it will make matters worse, an HR visit might be to your advantage in finding a placement in another school in the district. Also, professional development on your part to add to your credentials would show you are taking steps to improve (even if the need for improvement is imaginary); but a thought along the same line--don't condemn yourself for being a quiet person. People have different personalities and each personality is important. Teachers are not to be robots pre-programmed by the principal. More than likely, your quiet personality is an advantage in relating with students.
     
  11. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Aug 27, 2016

    Yes, it does seem like the P just doesn't like you for some personal reason. I've always hated that about the whole teaching field...that if that ONE & ONLY person (the principal) doesn't like you, it's a tough road ahead.

    However, since you're a substitute, from what I've experienced, districts don't give a care about subs. Subs come & go & have no power & I doubt HR would do a thing. I was a sub for a good 11 yrs & although I never had a really bad experience that I can recall, except maybe one at the start of my subbing, there's been no one school that I've ever really wanted to stay at.

    I agree with the other posters. I wouldn't want to be anywhere close to that campus with a 10 ft pole & her hiring someone else without much drama happening seemed like the almost perfect way to be out of there! Why be somehwere where you're not wanted?! I'd be incredibly glad & thankful that the situation wasn't any worse. Surely you have other districts in your area OR even other schools within that very district in which to work, right? And/or just keep applying ELSEWHERE to be a permanent teacher.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016

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