Women Teachers Bullying My Wife

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Anti, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. Anti

    Anti Rookie

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    Dec 20, 2011

    My wife is an English teacher in a private school in Europe, and she's having trouble with a gang of five or so women (and a boyfriend of one of them) who are all acting like bitchy ten year olds instead of professional adults.

    It all started when she said that she can't teach 3 year-olds English after lunch because they're too sleepy, and arranged with the manager to have them in the morning instead. Their lazy teacher wanted her non-contact to butt onto lunchtime and have easy afternoons; she took offence to this change, and got her friends to gang up on my wife ever since.

    It's all 'low level' stuff: not responding when she talks to them; poisoned gossip and bitching behind her back; holding her to higher standards than they hold themselves; minimising their workload and class-time whilst maximising my wife's; making awkward changes to timetables and cover; being early dropping their classes off with my wife, and late picking them up; interrupting her classes; opening her door, making cutting comments, and then closing the door (the boyfriend does that - if I ever meet him I'm going to break his nose); glares and looks; whispering and giggling; etc.

    She's strong and just wants to get on with her job, and she's friendly with the other staff, so not completely isolated. Management knows about 1/5th of what's going on, and have said to her that she's doing a great job and not to let anyone get under her skin. But it *is* getting her down. And even if it wasn't, she shouldn't have to put up with that kind of inane BS from these sad wackos (Teachers! Really?!! WTF?? I wouldn't have them anywhere near my son, let alone give them access to his brain).

    The only way I see this stopping is a written warning to the staff involved. However, the whole school has culture of bitching, whining and gossiping, so she has to show that this is beyond the cultural norm.

    To that effect, I've told her to start recording all this behaviour in a journal, no matter how trivial, so she can build an accurate picture of the abuse and present it to management when the need arises.

    Am I right that management need a formal, documented complaint, and that these idiots probably need a written warning before they'll stop?

    Is there anything else she should/could be doing?

    Thanks.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 20, 2011

    Early drop offs...don't be in the room or keep door closed until class starts.
    Late pick up...call the office and have the teacher paged.
    Grieve anything against contract.
    Grow a thick skin about the rest.
     
  4. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Dec 21, 2011

    Do all of these teachers have a higher level of authority than your wife? I'm just asking because I'm trying to figure out how they are able to affect certain things you mentioned.

    For instance, how do they maximize your wifes' workload? And what do you mean when you say they minimize their own? If they choose to give the kids less work in their class, there isn't much your wife can do about that. By the same token, though, they shouldn't be able to affect how much work your wife gives in her class.

    Changing timetables and cover? Again, how do they accomplish this?
    Interrupting her class? Keep her door locked during class time.
    Griping, whining and gossip? I'm afraid she will find some level of that no matter where she works. I've worked in a number of different career fields and I've seen it at every workplace I've ever had. It wasn't as bad at some places as others, but it was still there, nonetheless.

    It IS very difficult to work with coworkers like this, but if management is happy with your wifes' work, their antics don't really matter because they aren't doing any good. They aren't acting any more mature than the students they teach, so just view them as the foolish children they are. If your wife wouldn't be upset to catch her students gossiping about her, she shouldn't be bother about the coworkers doing it, because they aren't acting any older than the kids. If she would be bothered by childish gossip, then czacza is right that she just needs to grow a thicker skin and ignore it.

    Easier said than done, I know, but the BEST way to counter such childish behavior is to show that it isn't bothering you. The only real power they have over her is the power she gives them. If she ignores their behavior and doesn't let it bother her, there is nothing they can do about it. She can't control what the way they act (in or out of their classroom), but they can't control what she does either. Since management is HAPPY with the job your wife is doing, the coworkers aren't accomplishing anything more than spitting in the wind.
     
  5. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Dec 21, 2011

    Things are definitely done differently in this school than most. But she should keep her head up and be the better person. The guy interrupting her classroom can be handled with a quick chat to admin. and whilst it might bring on "new" challenges, she is there to teach and not be made a scapegoat because she cared about the education of the 3 year olds. Tell her to ignore, ignore, ignore. They will get tired of their silly behaviors after a while - I hope. Sending her best wishes!
     
  6. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Dec 21, 2011

    I always think about what we tell kids to do in the same situation-if we would tell them to just grow a thicker skin?

    This doesn't seem like your run of the mill gossip sessions, this seems like they are creating a hostile work environment for her and that is just not right. I went through a similar situation years ago and talk about making an already stressful job 10 times as stressful. I would dread walking through the halls or coming up on the group of them. Once at a meeting I sat down at a table and they all got up and moved to another one-it's hurtful no matter how tough you are.

    Is it possible for her to look into getting a job somewhere else? If not I definitely think she should be more honest with the admin and how much it's taking a toll on her-not running to them with every little thing, but as you said, documented bigger things that are outright hostile. It probably depends on the situation what will work with them, but I stood up to one of my bullies and didn't have nearly the problems with them (to my face anyway) after that. They were very surprised I stood up for myself and that combined with the fact I reported something they had done concerning my students to the admin--oh it was peaches and cream to my face after that.
     
  7. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Dec 21, 2011

    Unfortunately, there are always going to be cliques and a certain level of bitchy comments in any work environment, but this does sound over the top. At this point, she shouldn't worry about offending them--she should go directly to the admin with her grievances before it gets any worse.
     
  8. Anti

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    Dec 21, 2011

    Sorry, I should have made it clearer that she is a specialist teaching English as a second language in a non-english-speaking school, and visits each class rather than having one class of her own.

    > Do all of these teachers have a higher level of
    > authority than your wife?

    No. They seem to think so though. They feel superior because they are tutors for a specific class of 26-30 children. Whereas my wife teaches each of 'their' classes a couple of hours a week.

    Sometimes she takes the whole class out to another classroom, but many times she has to teach in the tutor's classroom while the tutor has a non-contact. These tutors then think it's OK to stay in the classroom and interrupt by talking to children, or pulling them out of the group to hear reading, or whatever, mostly just trying to provoke my wife into an altercation. They're aggressive and nasty when she tries to talk to them about it.

    > how do they maximize your wifes' workload?

    With excursions, concerts, sports events, etc, they ensure that my wife never misses her class by moving her slots around. She is always the one that ends up missing her non-contacts, and they try to arrange it between them so she's teaching back-to-back all day.

    Again with duties, cover, clubs, etc, they try to arrange doing the minimum time with the minimum of pupils amongst themselves, and ensuring my wife ends up with the maximum time and maximum pupils. They're late for everything and shun every responsibility that they can.

    It all adds up - my wife has to run around like a blue-arsed fly because they make it as hard as possible for her, whilst they help each other out to make their lives as easy as possible. And if she ever resists or stands up for herself they scream and bitch about it. I mean that literally - screaming in my wife's face and taking a temper tantrum.

    So, no-one is suggesting things like:
    · record the altercations on a video camera or ipod
    · approach the union rep and tell them that members are causing problems
    · approach other staff to try to get witnesses and allies
    · write a letter to the owner/manager, officially registering a problem exists

    Are there any other possible approaches I'm missing?
     
  9. Anti

    Anti Rookie

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    Dec 22, 2011

    I wrote a long reply yesterday, but it didn't get posted. I tried again and it went to 'moderation' (I think because it was marked as a duplicate).

    Can someone take a look at the moderation queue please?
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 22, 2011

    Why not just reply...posts generally aren't moderated unless there's something questionable, spam or a duplicate post ( but the original post would still be here )
     
  11. Anti

    Anti Rookie

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    Dec 22, 2011

    The original wasn't posted due to some hiccup with the site. I noticed that the database went down an hour or two later, so it may have had something to do with an impending server crash.

    I had it in my clipboard memory though, and pasted it into the reply box again, but the forum said it was a duplicate. I tried again, and got a message that it had gone to moderation.

    Of course, today it is not in my clipboard any more and I don't want to have to type it all out again. If there is a copy of it in the moderation queue, then I'd appreciate it if a mod could allow it to go through and be posted.
     
  12. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Dec 22, 2011

    I think the most important thing here is that she remain professional, civil, and do her job. Can she try to sit and talk with them and/or admin?
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Dec 22, 2011

    Every so often, a very new member's very long post gets caught by the automated part of the site software. This was probably one of those occasions (though the reference to the fly could have been a factor also).
     
  14. Anti

    Anti Rookie

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    Dec 22, 2011

    Thanks for the reply.

    > though the reference to the fly could have been a factor also

    So you've obviously seen the post in some admin section somewhere, but you can't publish it?

    I don't think using the expression 'they've got her running round like a blue-arsed fly' is any reason to censor it? I can't see how that would be offensive to anyone?
     
  15. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Dec 22, 2011

    I looked through all of your posts and I only see that the duplicate was sent for moderation.
     
  16. Anti

    Anti Rookie

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    Dec 22, 2011

    Thanks. But as you can see by this thread, it was not actually posted due to a quirk in the sever/forum software. Is it possible to post the copy that is in the moderation queue?
     
  17. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Dec 22, 2011

    Upsadaisy only saw one post in the moderation queue at 11:10 PST because I approved the first of the two just before I posted at 9:27 PST.

    Anti, please look back through the posts: I think you'll find #7 is yours.
     
  18. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Dec 23, 2011

    The union at least in the US will usually not deal with between member disagreements.

    If the other staff are rearranging her schedule can she not go the the admin and request that the staff has to request rearrangement of her schedule. I am not sure how if the times were just traded it would cause her to lose her time without children? It would be the same amount of hours just her time with out kids would be during an assembly or something. If it is because they are not giving her ample notice then she needs to be clear-"tell me by such and such day otherwise I will be unable to have your class at the time you wished and then have her cc the info to the admin." Then she just needs to be elsewhere during the time the class would arrive.

    If they are screaming in her face she needs to walk away from them-"We can continue this conversation when you are able to speak in a calm and respectful manner." Just keep saying it till out of their noisy presence.

    If the other teacher is late walk the children to the classroom or to the office, say "Wow, I am sorry; however class x will be arriving right now, so, mr/ms. Admin. I need to leave teacher y's children in your care."

    People did recommend that she start being clear about the problem to the Administration. However I would be cautious of how it is worded. I would not do a bitch session about how mean they are I would make it more how concerned about the quality of the lessons she is providing due to the time constraints placed on her due to the rearranging of time without speaking with her first.
     
  19. SPEDT

    SPEDT New Member

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    Dec 23, 2011

    Glad to know this isn't isolated. Not glad it's happening to your wife. I have experienced the same bitchiness, even though I knew teachers were this way and I have some idea as to why, you still expect more from someone who takes on the role as an educator. You expect them to be able to communicate their feelings and reach a resolution instead of falling into the petty gossip, mean looks, exclusion, rude comments, put downs and judgmental behavior. I guest teach from time to time and I probably live the same lifestyle as most of the teachers but in many instances I have been treated as if I were some loser, or just a "sub". It doesn't get to me, and I could say much more about them, but I do take the role and responsibility of an educator seriously and I am (for now) choosing to not engage in bitterness, hate and childishness and I won't take on that character just so that I don't appear weak. It's a little insane to see the lengths people go to, to prove a point when a person simply said "Hi, how are you?" as I am sure your wife did. She could ignore them or have a talk with the principal, which I am sure is fully aware of it and if she hasn't reprimanded them or reminded them of the standards of the school by now, who knows if she will, but a talk would not hurt. It just seems in education nothing is really said unless it is defamatory or gossip, it doesn't seem to be an environment of resolution and building. Which is very odd given the responsibility these "educators" hold to teach students not only the information but how to interact socially. Sad.
     
  20. Anti

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    Dec 24, 2011

    It is sad, especially given their choice of employment. I know that a lot of pressure and strain is caused by lack of resources, including time. However, it's disappointing that some people turn to bullying and scapegoating to deal with it, instead of working more effectively as a team.

    Anyway, short update. Second last day of term, one of the women blew up at my wife, and it was all completely witnessed by a friendly TA from start to finish. Also, the tail-end of the tantrum was caught by the line manager. Further, the TA then witnessed two of the women talking about it, unwittingly confirming that this kind of behaviour was conspiratorial.

    So last day of term, my wife was asked to explain exactly what was going on. The owner of the school was able to pre-empt most of her testimonial because he apparently hadn't been completely blind to it, and neither had the line manager. He fired one of them right of the bat (can't help smiling whilst I type that), and is issuing written warnings to the others. He also said he'd rather fire all five than lose my wife to another school, and he has plans to give her promotional duties next year.
     
  21. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Dec 24, 2011

    How wonderful for her, although I hate that she had to go through as much as she did to get to this point!
     
  22. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Dec 24, 2011

    Although it sounds like a lot has been handled by the administration, tell her it would be helpful to separate the two types of harrassment. One is professional interference and the other is personal rudeness.

    They can be handled differently, although both kinds need to be handled in a calm manner. Professional interference with my job is one that I will address directly and ask for help from admin if it isn't resolved.

    I keep a journal for the rude behaviors. Once it's written down, I rarely go back over it. It just feels good to get it out of my mind and onto something else where I can literally keep it in a compartment and not fret over it. If it is repeated over and over, I'd confront them. I say that, but it's never really happened to me where it is constant. However, I'm not one to back down from something, so I suspect that I'd say something to the person.

    (And I liked the blue-arsed fly comment.:))
     
  23. Anti

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    Dec 24, 2011

    Well, thanks for all the good advice.

    Certainly I would say after this experience, I think keeping a journal of any rude, unprofessional behaviour right from the beginning is a good idea, because you never no how long it will persist for, or how it may escalate. There's a fine line between putting up with someone's quirky personality and intentional, targeted bullying, and it's not easy to see unless all the countless petty incidents are taken as a whole.

    If thing's hadn't come to a conclusion because of this latest tantrum we'd be at the stage of only just starting to record it, after a year of simply hoping the problem would just go away by itself. Never underestimate how long some people can have a bee in their bonnet, and the lengths they'll go to.

    Also, personally I'd try to get a witness to (or a recording of) at least one incident. It helps so much when someone else can verify that whatever you've experienced is not acceptable.

    Thanks again, all.

    Now I've just got to sort out my neighbour from hell upstairs, and try to catch whoever is breaking into my car every few weeks, and we'll be more-or-less at peace with everyone. Gee Whiz, is it too much to ask for people just to leave us alone and not intrude into our lives?

    Merry Xmas.
     

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