unsolicited advice from secretary?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Jerry Dill, Jun 4, 2017.

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  1. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    At my school, I have to turn to the administrative assistant for many issues such as technological problems, grade book problems, makeup testing. And this secretary has gotten into the habit of giving me unsolicited advice when I tell her about some of these problems or issues. For example, the projector in my classroom had an issue, so I called her to get it fixed. She didn't have or didn't want to take the time to get it fixed immediately, so she gave me unsolicited recommendations to use another teacher's classroom for their projector. Obviously, I preferred to stay in my own classroom, but could I tell her I needed my projector fixed NOW, and she had to figure out how to do that? Another example is that I told her to contact a student again for makeup testing. She responded saying she had already emailed the student one time, and in her opinion she thought the student had enough notification about the makeup testing, so I should just "let it be" until the student found their own initiative to schedule the testing. She didn't outright refuse to email the student again, but she advised me it wasn't necessary in her opinion.

    How should I handle this type of unsolicited advice when it interferes passively or actively with what I am trying to do? Even if it doesn't interfere with what I am doing, should I tell her to shut up and do her own job rather than attempting to do my job? She is a secretary, and I have much more experience in education, and I am a teacher, but because she is the only go-between for a number of problems, all the teachers have to turn to her for help on many different issues. Should I just keep quiet and bite my tongue, since I have to deal with her and do not want to upset her? Can I gently tell her to stop giving me unsolicited advice? Is unsolicited advice ever useful? For example, she warned me that the principal did not like me having her follow up on my emails, and he lied and said he had answered some of my emails when he had not done so. Is this unsolicited advice useful even if I did not ask for her opinion?
     
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  3. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    If it doesn't interfere with your teaching in a major way then I would let it go, it's simply an annoyance and nothing more. But if you need her help with a lot of things then telling her to shut up is going to land you in her 'bad books' isn't going to make your professional life any easier. She can give you as much advice as she wants but you don't have to take the advice. Perhaps she does have a valid point sometimes (seeing as she deals with multiple problems multiple times for multiple teachers) and her advice may be unsolicited but not always useless, but you may be too annoyed to see past that.
     
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  4. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    She is your peer. Let her do her job and you do your job.
     
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  5. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    She knows how long it takes to get certain things repaired. Sounds to me she was offering a temporary fix to something that isn't a quick fix.

    As for the email, there may be something to her advice. She does it all the time. It may not be appropriate for all situations, but it is something to think about. It may also be part of the culture of the school. Students get one email and are expected to follow up on their own.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
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  6. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    I wouldn't bite the hand that feeds me.
     
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  7. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    I cannot imagine going to our sweet secretary and treating her as though she's my personal assistant who has to jump when I snap my fingers and do what I tell her.
    In my school, we contact the media coordinator and/or tech assistant when our projectors are on the fritz and put in a request for them to come by and have a look. We understand that there are 40 other teachers in the building, and a butt load of technology issues on a daily basis, so it's to be expected that we won't get our own issue resolved immediately. So, being the professionals that we are, if we know we are going to need our projector immediately, without being told, we figure out that we might check to see if we can go to the media center to use the one in there, or go to a colleague's classroom who has planning, etc. And we'd NEVER expect our secretary to email students or parents about makeup testing ONCE much less multiple times. That's part of our job.

    I'm sorry, but your tone regarding your secretary is very condescending and superior. If she picks up on that in real life, I don't blame her for brushing you off and giving you "unsolicited advice."
     
  8. phillyteacher

    phillyteacher Comrade

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    Agree 100% with previous posters, especially GPC0321. If I were her and had the tone you've got in your posts about her coming at me, I'd be less than inspired to help you any more than the letter of my job required. At my school, the secretary might help me put in a repair request if I wasn't sure who it should go to/ how to file it but it isn't her job to follow up on it or schedule it and she has no control over the timeline of repairs. I would never ask her to schedule something or email a student for something, that's squarely in my job parameters.
     
  9. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    What I was trying to say in my original post is that my school DOES NOT HAVE a media person or a technology person. And the secretary already handles makeup testing for other teachers, so she is not doing a special service for me alone. I have to ask her for the technology concerns because she is the only person that handles all of these concerns. I am a teacher, so it is not my job, and like I said, there is no one else. Plus, if I were behaving in a rude way to her, why would that excuse her behaving rudely to me and giving me unsolicited advice? Two wrongs do not make a right. If she thought I was being rude (and she does not), then she could simply have a mature conversation with me and explain why she thinks that is the case.
     
  10. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    My point is that she is trying to do my job when I do not ask for her help. I do not give her unsolicited advice about how to better succeed at her job, so I am not trying to do her job.
     
  11. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    Why would two wrongs make a right? If she thought I was being "condescending and superior" (she does not), then why could not she talk to me maturely instead of doing something wrong herself like giving unsolicited advice about my job? It is not mature to give unsolicited advice in the first place, and it is not the way to get another thing you do not like to stop either. The mature thing to do is to calmly discuss the behavior that isn't working or isn't appropriate.
     
  12. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    It doesn't interfere with my teaching, and sometimes it may be useful, but I feel like she is questioning my ability to do my job well, and she is trying to indirectly manage my work. I certainly do not advise her own problems with her own work (and there have been some problems). She forget to order some supplies that the teachers needed, so we were without paper for one week. She gave me the wrong key to the office, so I was locked out at one point. I never bring up ways to improve her work product, even though I might do the same thing to her. Yet when I tell her about some problems that I do want her to handle, such as the projector, she doesn't listen to what I would like first, but instead she tells me what she thinks will work. I do not tell other teachers how to teach their courses either.
     
  13. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I agree with this.

    I consider unsolicited advice to be those things that people tell me when there is no conversation related to the event. She is offering a suggestion. Take it or leave it.
     
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  14. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    From your description of the projector incident, she could't fix it immediately, so she suggested a work-around to help you in the meantime. Why you are choosing to take umbrage, when she is trying to help you solve a problem, is the real mystery here.
     
  15. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    I'm going to go ahead and assume you haven't been teaching long after reading this. Some day you'll realize how funny your statement above is.
    Good luck to you.
     
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  16. Tulipteacher

    Tulipteacher Companion

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    You have said in previous posts that you used to work in a university. Maybe that is the disconnect. I would imagine that a departmental secretary in a university is expected to do what the professor asks without questioning or providing input, because the secretary's job description is to be like a personal secretary who is shared by department members.

    That is not the case in k-12 education. A secretary oversees the whole school.A secretary is just as important as the teachers. A school cannot function well without a good secretary. She triages everything. It would be wise not to piss her off because she can make your life much easier or much harder. Nothing she said to you sounds out of line at all. She offered to help you. I would have been grateful. She offered you a classroom since your projector was broken. She told you that the norm is not to send a second email. To tell her not to offer you unsolicited advice based on what she said to you makes you sound pompous and arrogant at best and crazy at worst.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Doesnt seem unsolicited. You are reaching out and resenting her advice.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
  18. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    One of the best pieces of advice I was given when I first started teaching was that the school cannot run effectively without the secretaries and caretakers and that they are your most important allies. It's advice I pass on to all of my student teachers. None of us are more important or "above" anyone else.
     
  19. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    the best advice!
     
  20. heatherberm

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    Secretaries and custodians, man. They make the world turn in the average school. (I would agree with most people here that you're overreacting. Even if you don't like the answers she's giving you, nothing here seems particularly ill-intentioned on her part, especially with the projector. I doubt she has the ability to make a repair happen RIGHT NOW so she was making a suggestion that she thought would be helpful to you in the meantime.)
     
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  21. Janeway

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    I stopped reading after this. I cannot imagine having this attitude toward anyone. You are not special because you're a teacher and she is a secretary. Once you realize to fix your own problems, your life will be easier. Projector doesn't work? Report it NICELY, and plan around it (every one on this forum has done this I'm sure). Student needs to make up something? Email them or call them yourself. And I think she has a point anyway, after initial contact it's up to the student to have some personal responsibility and take care of their business. Who's the teacher now?
     
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  22. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    As someone who had been an administrative assistant before finishing my teaching certificate, I will agree that the school secretary is probably the one who has enormous stockpiles of information and resources, even if she isn't the one who wields the power of discipline. Try to make her a resource for your own work in the school. See her as a partner in how the school works.
     
  23. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    I'm just going to answer this specific question.

    Um, yes. A million times yes.
     
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  24. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    No offense, but most of the advice here seems to stem from an insecure and immature vantage. It seems to me that most of the posters here need to (1) grow up emotionally (2) do better in school so that they are not intellectually insecure.
     
  25. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    There are millions of articles written by people who do not want unsolicited advice. I do not think my annoyance was at all unusual. Take a look around and see how the world works.
     
  26. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    If treating others with respect makes me immature and insecure, I'll take it.
     
  27. CherryOak

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    There's a common denominator to all these unintelligent and presumptuous people you keep coming across.
     
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  28. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    This thread has diminished into name-calling on all sides.
     
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