Saturday, May 29, 2010

Teacher Gossip

From the Star

So, as I have mentioned before, I am going to be working at my same school next year in a primary multi-aged classroom which is so exciting! While I am super excited about the job the "teacher talk" around here is really starting to take a toll.

There is a new school opening up down the road from here and they will be taking around one hundred to one hundred and fifty of our students. With this happening, our school had to cut five teachers. You might remember that I was the last hired. Only three of the teachers from my school volunteered to leave and go to a new school. The other two teachers that were put on the list to go did not want to leave and they were determined to fight for their positions. When all was said and done they were not asked to stay so they took jobs at the new school. While I had assumed that I would be one of the ones to go, since I was the last hired, I was surprised but thrilled to be staying! When the word got out that I had been offered a position to stay at my school, the gossip began....

When I found out I had a primary job at my school for next year, I was floored but just so overjoyed I could barely speak! I was finally going to be working with the age group that I had been wanting. As the word weaved its way through the teacher grapevine, I received a call from one of the teachers leaving. She was really angry. She said that I should not be invited to stay over her because I was hired after her. She went on to say "good luck " dripping with sarcasm. I took the conversation with a grain of salt. I was just too excited. As the next day rolled around that same teacher found me and continued to rant about how she should be staying. I reminded her that being first year teachers, we were lucky to even have jobs for next year! But she said she was still upset about the whole situation. I guess I can understand her anger and I could have sympathized with her. I didn't really understand the politics of it all either, but then she started to slam the team that I am going to be joining next year! I just ignored everything that she said and kept enjoying the fact that I would be working in Primary next year with a team who I have heard from everyone else is amazing and very organized. As the day went on another teacher said that she had worked with the team that I was going to be joining and that it was awful. She said it had been the worst year of her life! I am truthfully amazed when I think of how these teachers disrespected their school and their staff. So in the end I guess I am glad that they will not be teaching at my school after all!

Do all schools have teachers who are so negative and who say such discouraging things? How do you handle a situation when you don't really understand why a decision was made and how do you handle that kind of teacher gossip?

Friday, May 28, 2010


From the Apple
I could really relate to your post about teaming. While you have a team of 4 in a "pod," I led a team of 13 Kindergarten teachers. My team was much larger but the dynamics that you talk about were the same. For many reasons, this was the most difficult team I have led in many years. However, I have learned over the years that teams go through some predictable stages. When I sit back and think about my team this year, I realize that this is the way most new teams begin - forming! This stage is where we first meet. Most members are very polite and excited about the year ahead. For us this was a short lived stage (maybe one meeting!)

It's the next phase that is so difficult - storming. Teams go through a phase where they try to figure out how all the pieces fit and especially where their individual piece fits. I think that is really similar to your situation Courtney, where you came in as the new member and felt like the more experienced member's of the team, who had worked together before very successfully, did not always respect your voice. You certainly wanted to contribute and had a hard time figuring out how to do that. You were wise to sit back and watch and try to figure out where you fit. For my team this was a longer, more difficult stage. Some of our teachers had worked together very successfully in the past. In fact, they referred to themselves as "a well-oiled machine." Other teachers coming into this group new felt that they had no voice. In our case, matters got worse because those that were dissatisfied were vocal outside the team, rather than realizing that this is a natural step in teaming. Sometimes things are said that put up a roadblock for moving ahead. My advice to teachers as they join a more established group - Give it some time - observe. Volunteer where there are places, until the team figures out your strengths and how you can best contribute. Learn from their strengths. Be patient. This is a time in a large group that a leader can find out what different members want to do and who is good at what. On my team, for instance, I found out that Laura is a detail person and that was very useful information as I looked for tasks that needed to be done. I found our that Nina has real leadership ability and could hold her own with some of our more experienced teachers so I worked hard to make sure she had opportunities to lead. I depended on the most experienced teachers for many of the most complex tasks. I tried to find a place where everyone could use their talent. Unfortunately this storming phase sometimes felt like an emotional roller coaster.

Courtney, I think your team moved into the next phase of norming faster than my team. This is the phase where members begin to respect authority and others show leadership in specific areas. The team knows each other better and even begin some socializing. The members are able to ask each other for help and and provide constructive criticism. Of course, storming can always rear it's head and of course, for us, it did occasionally!

When the team reaches performing, hard word leads to progress and I think, we may have finally reached that point as the year has come to an end. At this stage things begin to feel easier.

The final stage is mourning when it feels difficult to close out a working relationship. I know that is the way you are feeling Courtney as you leave your team this year and I hope that is the way that my team is feeling. If I am honest, I am sure there may be a few who are just glad the year is over and are ready to move on! For me, my frustration this year was not being able to reach the performing stage sooner. It seemed like just as we were there, the year was over... but I learned a lot and that, after all, is my goal as a lifelong learner!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Team

From the Star

So the year is coming to an end and I have really grown to love my team and the support that they have given me throughout the year. I know I sometimes talked about the struggles and the hard times of working with a team, but I can honestly say that I have found a friendship and great respect for all of the members on my team. My advice for those that are new to the teaching game and have to work with a team where you feel like an outsider - Don't give up. Keep trying. They will let you in. Show them that you want to be a part of the team. You may think. well, why should I have to do all the work but once they see you want to be there and you are willing to give, the return is amazing. When you are part of a team it is a great feeling. They have been there for me at all times, no matter if it's personal or work related. They were there to lift me up and lend a hand.

As the year comes to an end I must say goodbye to my extraordinary team... but not forever... just until next year. Yes, after all is said and done, I get to stay at my school after all. I could not be more excited! There is one catch. I am leaving my team and going to join a new team right across the way. I will join a primary multi-age team. I am really excited, because I have always felt that I am a primary teacher instead of an intermediate teacher. While I am so glad to have had this intermediate experience, it has just confirmed to me that my heart belongs to primary. I am ready for my new journey to begin! Things work out the way they do for a reason and I believe something good comes from every situation. So course, sometimes you just have to be patient and wait. I hope you all have a great rest of the year!