Sunday, September 29, 2013

13th Grade

How to deal with challenging co-workers.

I often joke that teaching is like being in the 13th grade. Things you thought you left behind in high school continue in the workplace.  And sometimes it's like we never left middle school.


The gossip: do you best not to partake. The same way you are including in the session, is just as easily you'll be the topic of discussion.  I never forgot when during my first week of my first year teaching, I was involved in a large gossip session at lunch. No one knew me and I didn't know them, but it didn't matter.

The competition: know that there is room for all of us to be successful. Address undercover negative comments with a question such as, "What do you mean by that?"  Or if you prefer to speak through actions, ignore attempts by others to engage you in unnecessary competition, and know it really isn't about you.  I have experienced competition dealing with whose class a group children like best to my teacher wardrobe. People will compete with you even when you are simply being yourself.

The sabotage: it's not all about stealing brooms, teacher books and even furniture, sometimes things get ugly. Learn from these experiences-- for starters, write your name on everything!-- but remain open though wiser. Most people won't go to the level some will. My second year teaching, also the year I begrudgingly taught science, a colleague gave me high school textbooks to use with my self-contained students. Months later, in my struggles, I showed it to someone else and we realized it was not a 10th grade textbook, and most certainly not what the general education 8th graders were using.  I've also had, in addition to the previously mentioned items, a projector stolen (and recovered) as well as personal bangles lent to a cultural exhibit for Black History Month (read about that lesson here).

The attitude: each day is a new day. It helps to be cordial with all but know that some colleagues will not return a greeting, and it is not personal.  My first few years, I greeted each adult I crossed paths with. Eventually I realized some were not responding to me, but actually giving me looks.  Fact is: there are many grumpy, unhappy-with-life people in the workplace; do your best not to become one of them.

And when it comes to middle school antics, like you're sitting in my seat when there are no assigned seats during department meetings or it's not my fault that I was invited on the trip when you're really discussing self-contained students being including on a grade-wide trip and not a party invitation, stay on the higher ground.  Keep it professional as you address what you must, and then let it go.  At the end of the day, you are the one who is putting your best foot forward at all times. Don't succumb to mean person or petty antics. And when it's time to leave the school building for the day, leave it all behind. You have a full life to live, so go forth and enjoy the second part of your day.

Miss M

No comments:

Post a Comment