Struggling with colleague big time

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Kaley12, Mar 21, 2017.

  1. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    Mar 21, 2017

    I work in a class with a para. She's an absolute nightmare. She has been doing this job for 6 years, and has been placed with a different class each year (in different schools) because she has such large conflicts with every single teacher she has worked with. Some to the point where they've filed complaints against her. I've heard such horror stories about her, and now I'm living them, even though I've been going out of my way to appease her. I'm a very passive and quiet person, and somehow I still manage to set her off. She's basically impossible to please.

    If something is not to her liking, she lets me know without fail, in the rudest and most condescending way. She's demeaning to me all the time, even with the kids present. She constantly tells me that she knows more than me (even though I've been teaching for several years longer than she's been a para), she makes personal insults towards me, she's told me off multiple times about the most random things (i.e. one time I moved an activity up by a period because of a change in my prep time, and she LOST IT because she didn't like the new time for it I chose). And worst of all, she is beyond useless at her job. She doesn't do anything but sit at a desk. She barely looks in the direction of the kids. If I dare ask if she can help with something, she snaps at me with comments such as "I'm not a kid so don't tell me what to do" or "I know what to do, not you".

    Like I said, I'm very quiet and non-confrontational so I was hoping to find a way to deal with her by letting her do her thing. I also didn't want to go to the principal because it's my first year working for him and I don't want his first impression of me to be someone who has conflicts with her colleague. However, the principal is aware of her by now, because other staff became so concerned for me that they brought it to his attention (she would literally yell at me before and others could hear). The principal had a talking to her (where she tried to deny everything), and is now more cautious about her outbursts. However, she's still very rude and condescending on some days. Not everyday. But enough. Some days I have knots in my stomach driving to work because I'm so anxious about being in a room with her for another day. She gets very worked up and defensive when you try to talk to her. For example, she gets very loud, doesn't let you finish a sentence, gets insulting, etc. So calmly talking things through isn't really an option.

    I really don't want to be one to complain, and I know this happens with every teacher she's had, but I don't know what to do.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
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  3. MathGuy82

    MathGuy82 Companion

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    Mar 21, 2017

    I was in a similar situation. I had to go to the principal and get human resources involved. This teacher backed away and is not teaching in our department fortunately and the principal was very supportive. I would email any of your higher ups like the department chair/administration/principal. You don't deserve this. I confronted the colleague, things didn't change, so we got to have the principal have several meetings with this teacher along with about 5 visits from human resources.
     
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  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 21, 2017

    Marginalize her. Let her sit at her desk and rant and rave. She's only making herself look bad.
     
  5. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Mar 21, 2017

    Kill her with kindness. Smile when she is as rude as heck. Say "tell me how you really feel? No, never mind. I really don't care". Smile and walk off.
     
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  6. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Mar 23, 2017

    I have to wonder if she's not related to a senior administrator or school board member.

    I'd say document the behavior a bit, then turn it in to the Principal and Human Resources. She should not be in a school. You should not be tolerating this just because it's your first year. Imagine if she's still in your room next year!
     
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  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Mar 23, 2017

    I think you have to get assertive with her. Tell her in no uncertain terms that you will not accept her behavior. Then, let her rant and rave and just ignore her and go about your business.
    This is your first year so you might as well learn now how to develop a backbone and stand up to the bullys around you.

    I'm sure the administrators are aware of her previous work record. Maybe someone will hear her yelling at you and bring an administrator down to help. One can hope!
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
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  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Mar 24, 2017

    I would not put up with her unprofessional, rude behavior. Let her know that you need to speak with her and set up a time when you both have 15 minutes. Then let her know in a very firm and matter of fact way that you expect 3 things to change. Pick 3 things, whether it's something she needs to do, not do or change (like the way she speaks with you). Don't let her argue with you. You can have a discussion, but don't let her be disrespectful. Every time she says something the wrong way or something disrespectful, point out that it is that kind of behavior you will not tolerate.

    Document this. Write down what you said to her and her responses.
    Do this two more times. Then go to any and all higher ups, no one can tell you that you didn't try to work with her. Yes, you're in your first year, but I'm sure everyone knows she's difficult, so it won't be you who seems to not get along with people.

    And aren't you technically her supervisor who will evaluate her?
     
  9. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Mar 24, 2017

    Make sure you're not alone with her if you do something like this!
     
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  10. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Mar 24, 2017

    I'd go to human resources. What she is doing is amounting to bullying. And she is supposed to be there for the kids. If she isn't doing her job, the kids suffer. And I'd document everything from now. Just to have something concrete to prove your point.
     
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  11. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Mar 24, 2017

    If I might play psychologist for a second, people such as her often feel tortured inside for one reason or another and so they compensate by trying to be autocratic or a know-it-all. She obviously doesn't have many professional friends and perhaps not many, if any, nonprofessional friends. (On the humorous side, I once heard such people described as angels: always up in the air harping about something). I would highly recommend not returning her arguments; that only results in two people arguing rather than just one. Let her continue to be the antagonist: it's your job to be the protagonist. Kindness is definitely the best response, (even though it can be grievously difficult with such people), and firmness that you are in charge, and this is your class, not hers. I'd thank her for her opinions, I might make a rule that I will listen and consider her opinions when they are presented calmly and professionally, but the final decision would have to be mine. If she continues to argue, I'd professionally thank her and continue on with my business. If she disrupts the class, and if I feel comfortable enough with the administration, I'd ask her to leave the room and have the principal enforce it, perhaps with a quiet signal to hopefully keep the class unaware that she's being kicked out. A hint I learned in a workshop: if possible, never confront such a person by standing directly in front of her/him; stand with your side to the person which is a nonthreatening posture. This can sometimes calm down the offender. Another thought I've read about, and this will sound a bit weird, but it's true. When someone is upset, your body will automatically move muscles to match that person's feelings. This physical reaction is normal and helps alert the brain to understand what emotion the other person is feeling. Unfortunately, it can also cause you to be more tense than necessary. I find that by concentrating on re-relaxing my muscles (and for me, that includes relaxing my shoulders) and checking my breathing, that helps tremendously in keeping my own demeanor calm and professional. Hey, just because one person is tied up in knots and giving herself a headache, doesn't mean I have to be.
     
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  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 24, 2017

    What activities does she do during the day? Does she really sit at a desk 100% of the time? Does she spend any of that time interacting with kids? What is her job description? Who is her supervisor?
     
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  13. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    Mar 24, 2017

    Thank you everyone for the advice given. I agree that I should speak to her and be more assertive. My biggest concern with that is how aggressive she becomes. I tried to talk to her once very calmly about an incident I did not want to tolerate, and it went horribly because of how worked up she gets (she gets loud, condescending, and you can't get a word in edge wise). I also spoke to her with the principal present, and even with the principal there, she was still very challenging and rude, to the point where my P had to get firm and tell her to stop cutting me off and let me speak. She completely lacks professionalism. My colleagues know some of the previous teachers she worked with, and apparently she has gotten herself into several screaming matches, so I don't know how capable she is of a calm and rational discussion.

    I have been documenting for the last few months, and I think I will express my concerns to the P, to let him know it's still not improving. I also want to make him aware of how little (if nothing) she does all day.

    Caesar asked what her job is... she's suppose to provide support to the students, such as small group and one-on-one, document, help create learning centers, etc.
    As for how often she sits at her desk, if we are in the classroom (as oppose to gym, recess, etc.) I would say she's sitting and unengaged about 80% of the time.
     
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  14. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Mar 24, 2017

    Based on the fact that you have been documenting her for some time now I would not wait one day longer. And I would ask for a meeting with the principal. I really don't think anyone will look at YOU as a person who can't work with someone, so the fact that it's your first year shouldn't be a problem.
     
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  15. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Mar 25, 2017

    Agreed that you have enough documentation that she is not living up to her job requirements, to say the least. The students who should be receiving her services are the ones who are truly suffering from her behavior. I know you are worried about your own professional reputation. Frame it as your being an advocate for those children, and it will shift the focus.
     
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