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A student asked in assembly if the previous teacher was returning....

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by IceCreamVanMan, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. IceCreamVanMan

    IceCreamVanMan Occasional commenter

    How would you feel?

    I started in September, taking over from another teacher who left last June (a lovely person, who I met at interview and one or two other handover days). The student in question just started (her older sister is a GCSE student, who I am teaching).

    Today, we had an assembly to discuss a forthcoming activity and the coordinater asked if there were any questions. She had mentioned my predecessor as an example of the activity a few years before and when questions were raised, one students asked if that teacher was coming back (half the students turned and looked at me, I waved and smiled at them) The teacher in charge said that it was not a relevant question and moved on.

    Personally, I think it was pretty obnoxious, but quite hurtful - she was never taught by that teacher, so is going by school gossip. I tried to pass it off as a joke, but part of me was pretty hurt.

    Advice? Please don't tell me to get a thick skin or tell me that I should 'get over it'. It was upsetting, and I would never mention it to the student ever but how would you feel. One colleague said that the student in question was a little so-and-so and how thoughtless, etc., so I know the student was wrong and that the teacher in charge did the right thing, but it just makes me so mad.........
  2. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    Hold on to the fact that she only asked if she was coming back. It seems a natural question in that situation as she was being discussed. They didn't say anything negative about you. Unless more was said I can't see why it is upsetting. Sorry.
  3. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    I am afraid (and I see this regularly) you are suffering from hashtag NQT who takes everything personally and overanalyses. I can see why you might be riled, in your mind the students question is a veiled way of saying 'you are not good enough.' Its secondary not primary though. So you are overanalysing, the teacher that left is one of many and the student means no such thing, what you fear is a reflection of low self esteem? (and I can sympathise that schools do not exactly foster high self esteem in their staff at times.)

    My advice.....You need to learn to not take every comment said by students/staff personally otherwise you will end up going of sick with stress/anxiety/burnout before long. Save the worry for when the writing is really on the wall!

    And PS - the question WAS a little inappropriate, most Year 7s(?) have learned more tact than that and your co-ordinator stuck up for you! MOVE ON!!!
    Resolve and wanet like this.
  4. ValentinoRossi

    ValentinoRossi Star commenter

    I remember my first full time teaching post, many moons ago now! CSE Drama class. Reading 'Gregory's Girl'. Discussing "what makes a good teacher". Snotty-spotty-grotty girl chewing gum looks me in the eyes and says, "The one we had before you." Nice!

    It was very upsetting then. It's not a case of 'getting' a thick skin. But kids are kids and will continue to make comments such as these. They do so for a variety of reasons - I have found that 9/10 times, simply to amuse or impress their peers.

    You don't need advice - it seems to me that you handled it fine publicly. As far as handling it personally and privately, try just smiling to yourself and adopting the mantra: "I'm the adult here and that was said by a child."
  5. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    The other member of staff has clearly confused them with talk of the other teacher. To the extent that some have wondered 'why, is s/he coming back' I don't see why you have taken it personally..
    wanet and Flere-Imsaho like this.
  6. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Pupils like to know what's going on. They don't always seem to realise that teachers have a life outside of one particular school - I have been asked by pupils why I am leaving teaching when a supply contract ended - and the pupil in question may not have even made a connection between the other teacher and you.
    Resolve and wanet like this.
  7. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Kids say that sort of thing often. I was with my sister-in-law when one of her grandchildren said We've got a nice Granny and a nasty Granny, the other Granny is nicer than you. It was an 8 year old who had been refused something or other, and my S-i-L was very upset. These are older, and they are not saying it quite so openly, but it can still hurt when you get their meaning.

    Just remember that most pupils like to play the part of little martyrs under the new teacher compared to the wonderful previous one. I went back to a former school where I had been Head (to do Oxbridge interviews), and was surrounded by an enthusiastic group of pupils who complained The Head wouldn't let us go home when it was snowing last week! We all told her that you would have allowed us to go!

    My response? Rubbish! I was a very strict and mean Head, you all used to say so, I most certainly would not have closed the school. Sheepish looks from the group.

    So past teachers (and Heads!) tend to be wrapped in a cloud of glory when they leave, and only good things are remembered. The other teacher was lovely. Good! You are lovely too - I bet your friends would say so, and you are going to be the best teacher that they ever had.

    And they'll make sure that they let the new teacher understand that, when you've left!


    Best wishes

    Resolve and Sillow like this.
  8. crinauk

    crinauk New commenter

    Lovely advice Theo - I have had similar situations to the poster. My personal mantra is that I am not at the school to be their friend I am there to educate them and prepare them for the big wide world and to help them to achieve the best they can in my subject. My best comment ever from a pupil was 'I hate you but you are a good teacher' ! That's the kind of insult I like :)
    Resolve and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  9. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    It is my experience that far too many teachers look to take offence where none is intended: both from students and colleagues.

    This may well have been a totally innocent question. I've had similar questions asked, and it was very clear that no malice is intended.

    I've also had a student have a bit of fun with this sort of thing. In class he peeped up and said Miss **** (previous teacher) was a good teacher. Then, after a deliberate brief pause, added but you are better.
  10. finisterre_277

    finisterre_277 Established commenter

    This is the most sensible reply on this thread!
    Resolve and minnie me like this.
  11. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Oh IceCreamVanMan - remember that not everything is all about YOU ! Sound observations from colleagues.
    finisterre_277 likes this.
  12. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Also how is this a Workplace 'Dilemma' ?
    finisterre_277 likes this.
  13. davidmu

    davidmu Occasional commenter

    I had a very different comment on one occasion. When on supply a girl put her hand up and when invited to ask a question stated "you are the best maths teacher we have had". When I repeated the observation to the DH, the reply was "no you are the only maths teacher they have had, the previous one was the Head!"
  14. joannagb

    joannagb Occasional commenter

    Every one gets this and it can often hurt, just remember that it's not a popularity contest! I remember when my year group were first told in assembly that they would have 2 assistant heads of year, my and the really popular drama teacher, when she was announced there were lots of under the breath "yes"es heard, when I was announced a second later it was "oh no"es and groans instead. I was the one that did them the most good, and the one who's career went the furthest, and the one who gave far too much to the job and ended up with work related stress - and she knew it! Popularity is lovely while it lasts, respect is far better.
    Resolve likes this.
  15. IceCreamVanMan

    IceCreamVanMan Occasional commenter

    It's my workplace and it's a dilemma?

    Anyway, I jokingly asked the student and they said they thought we could be a superteam of teachers together....I said that that was a very good answer!
    joannagb and Resolve like this.
  16. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    As a young teacher i would have felt embarrassed and a bit upset. As an old lag I would have felt amused, thought - what a little ***** and got a laugh from it in the staffroom later, but still felt a bit peeved frankly. You did fine.
  17. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Maybe just then my interpretation of ' dilemma ' ? Anyhow good to see your ego is back on track so all good !
  18. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    As an NQT I'd have been terribly hurt by this. You do get used to all sorts of comments and behaviour the more you teach. I wouldn't bat an eyelid now.
    sabrinakat and Resolve like this.
  19. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I'd still be hurt, because I get hurt by everything and anything. It's daft and I could give you a whole heap of advice, but actually all you can do is take a deep breath and move on. In a few months when you feel better and so on, you'll be able laugh with said child about it.

    If there have been lots of staff changes, some of the changes could have been people returning from long term sick, or leaving very suddenly and pupils not being told why. That makes it a perfectly innocent question.
  20. Resolve

    Resolve New commenter

    I agree; it is so easy to assume to become a mind reader and imagine what ulterior motive may hide behind a question. What would an old hand do in such a situation? Answer the question factually and... move on. Any anxiety in your mind is a creation; it isn't real. Good advice has been presented here which all has a common denominator: don't choose something like this to get stressed about.

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