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Difficult Form Tutor

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Progressnerd, Sep 16, 2020.

  1. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    Hi all

    I started my first HOY role this year and am finding it enjoyable in parts but also challenging.

    I have a slight issue at the moment and was wondering if experienced HOYs could advise me.

    There's a member of my form tutors who has been a HOY before and is older than me. He had a tough time last year and signed off for a bit. Since he's come back I'm finding him quite resistant and being difficult for the sake of it. I don't think he likes someone much younger being his HOY.

    For example he wont respond to some emails where I've asked the tutors to all carry out a task on certain days (at request of SLT and I never bombard them with emails)

    He will email me things that he knows I wont have the answer to and when I see him he's coming across as passive aggressive. I sense that he's fed up with the school and not me personally but I don't want it to grow any further.

    What would the best course of action be?
    jlishman2158 likes this.
  2. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    If he’s doing a good job, let him get on with it.

    If he’s refusing to do things SLT have asked for and you’re worried you could end up getting the blame, let them know and they can deal with it or advise you otherwise.
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I try to answer all emails, even if the answer is only "yep". \However, it's possible that if I get an email saying "do the PHSE activity we sent you" I just do it. That is also a valid response to the email.
    If he's not doing the task, then thought is needed, and perhaps quiet discussion with your line manager.

    Reply with the name of the person who can answer.


    It sounds as if he's been overwhelmed by circumstances, You might need a list of things, he must do, things you want him to to do, but non-compliance won't rock the boat and things that don't matter. Probably most of your stuff is in category 1!
    Ignore the passive aggressive. Focus on positivity and working together to support his group. Maybe ask his advice occasionally (you don't have to follow it), it will make him feel a valued team member
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    'Being resistant' is the prerogative of the more experienced. Leave him to it.
    If you decide he is being 'difficult for the sake of it' or that he doesn't 'like someone much younger being his HOY' then you will create your own problems. It is perfectly possible neither of these are true and he is just fed up right now.
    Show that you value his input and think highly of his skills and all will be well.
    So you ask him to count housepoints on a Weds or whatever. Presumably he does this, just doesn't email with a suck up 'yes sir, of course sir, three bags full sir'? Nothing wrong with that.
    I doubt that...no one has the time for such nonsense. Probably he expects that you will have the answer, just let him know you don't and that he needs to ask X instead.

    Leave the poor man alone. Certainly stop assuming he is being deliberately difficult or you will cause all kinds of problems and probably come across as a bit of a bully.
    Piranha, ridleyrumpus, CWadd and 7 others like this.
  5. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    Turning this on its head, experience can lead to jadedness and even cynicism..... maybe this guy knows what he is doing and looks on whatever new buzzword for something that has existed for years with disdain.
    Maybe the 'questions you cant answer' emails are actually from someone old enough to be at the stage in their career where sticking their head above the parapet and asking the difficult questions won't impact on them as they know retirement is coming?
  6. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    True-also he might be even more worried about his health due to his age and being male-also possibly existing health issues. That's not to say any young, female, healthy teacher doesn't have the right to worry at the moment-simply that he might be more worried-not an excuse but a genuine reason to seem less friendly than you'd hope.
  7. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Call him out. Tell him how he is coming across to you. You are colleagues. You aren’t his line manager. Be prepared for some home truths to be told to you and take them on the chin. But it will enable you to move forward. After it, say, we go forward from here. Nip this stuff in the bud early on.
    Marshall likes this.
  8. thejudgesscoresarein

    thejudgesscoresarein Established commenter

    Speak to the colleague on an ‘informal basis’ and highlight that you haven’t received a response to your emails and ask if there are any problems. Was it his choice that he stepped down or was he forced? If it’s the former, then really in hindsight, his issue shouldn’t be with you. If it’s the latter, then I can see why there would be issues, but I wouldn’t take it personally! Try and get him onboard and ‘value’ his experience and support - if that makes sense! An ex - HOY should be the one you can rely on, as they know what the job actually entails.
    agathamorse and Alice K like this.
  9. Corvuscorax20

    Corvuscorax20 Lead commenter

    that is a very subjective judgment!

    I don't really see this is schools, age is irrelevant. He would probably be a HOY if he wanted to be. I think the issue is more likely to be that he knows more than you, if you are new to the job and he has been there years. I have a HOD and a 2 i/c both a generation younger than me. I don't want their jobs, so why should I care? I tend to find its only the very new and young teachers that have any interest in doing any job like this, I certainly don't. The age is irrelevant. But their attitudes are not.

    My HOD is a proper manager, who understands what her role is. My 2 i/c actually tries to "praise" me "encourage" me and practices techniques such as "2 stars and a wish" on me. She is so pathetic and out of her depth that the only response possible is pretend she is not there.

    I am not saying you are pathetic and out of your depth, but are you treating this teacher as an asset, who you are there to represent and support, or as a toddler you are supposed to wrangle?

    I don't "respond" to most emails I get. Most of them do not require a response, some of them are not possible to respond to, they are either too late, too ignorant, or don't arrive.

    well, if you are his manager, he is entitled to have the expectation that you can find out the information for him.

    In short, I don't know the individual, but I feel quite sorry for him from your account. I doubt you feature particularly highly in his awareness, the relationship is probably a non-event, as far as he is concerned, and you are probably a minor annoyance he feels that he can do his job better by disregarding.

    I would say, think carefully, are you being condescending? patronising? dismissive of his knowledge and experience? giving silly instructions? Maybe you are, or are not, but I doubt he cares anything at all about your age.
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I suppose one way to deal with it is to send a follow up email and cc it in to your line manger on SLT, expressing regret that despite having requested x,y and z on (date) and despite having sent two follow up emails, you note with interest that they still have not provided the required answer, and then request the answer by the end of the day.
    If you send this at about 9 o'clock in the morning, they most likely will not respond by the end of the day, so you then accompany your line manager to their room at 3.30 and tell them stridently (for the benefit of your line manager) that everybody else was able to do this. Firmly remind of their contractual duties and of the school motto, and that not answering makes things very difficult for the rest of the team.
    Make sure you end the meeting with a smile!
    Once outside in the corridor, you may then like a deserved fist bump with your line manager, but don't forget, theirs must be slightly higher than yours.

    Must add-this is not my own advice, I base it only on the learned practice of some of our longer standing heads of year who I thought you may like to hear about.

    The only point I have to make of my own is this question-you might not bombard your tutors with emails, but what other emails do you send them apart from the stuff that SLT have requested you get from them?
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
    Flanks, Laphroig, IanG and 1 other person like this.
  11. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    I agree with the above. Do you have evidence that he is not doing what you ask him to do? Does he maybe have a few shortcuts up his sleeve to ensure things get done his way and not necessarily SLTs way?
  12. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

  13. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    I think we must have been writing at the same time! Yikes indeed!
  14. maggie m

    maggie m Lead commenter

    Why would you expect a response to every email? If I was asked to tell you how many reply slips I had for parents evening I would tell you. If you emailed and asked me to carry out an activity or make an announcement I would just do it. You might get a reply you might not depending on how busy I was.
  15. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    From personal experience, I can sympathise with a teacher being reluctant to respond to every email, as these can pour down like monsoon rain on a tin roof! Nearly every email I received was demanding that I perform some pointless data correlation exercise, like 'a complete break down of Year 11 classes with predicted grades against free school meals and shoe size'. This sort of demand often came from some lazy sod of a manager, who having greater access to SIMS, could have collected this information with a few clicks of a mouse!
  16. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    Exactly. A seasoned tutor has a quick way of doing things. I always had a couple of really willing helpers in my form who would organise some things for me like interform sports teams and harvest festival boxes and even tutor assemblies. It would all get done eventually
  17. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    Much of these email cascades are caused by pressure from management continually to produce 'evidence' that everybody is 'doing their jobs', which a trail of emails helps to do. :(
    agathamorse likes this.
  18. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    "I don't think he likes someone younger being his HoY...He will email me about things I won't know the answer to."

    It's possible he does see you as too young and irritating. It's also possible he knows what he's doing. It's equally possible you're feeling a bit unsure and want to prove you know what you're doing and he is being difficult.

    The role of FT has become a ridiculous job in some schools. 20 years ago it was a case of take the register, check uniform, end. Far too many schools expect the tutors to pick up the pieces from curriculum and to discipline students for things that happen in lessons. Like a school I was in that made students stay with their tutors all day if they had no planners. Perhaps he's fed up with increasing demands when he only sees the kids for 20 minutes in the day.

    Arrange to have a conversation. Email is getting you nowhere. If you're not prepared to talk to him face to face - leave him alone.
  19. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    I agree with @CWadd. As a former form tutor for decades, I accreted so many 'little jobs', which management conveniently for them, assigned to registration and 'tutor time' making the first twenty minutes the morning an impossible, plate spinning exercise.

    1.Write the 'thought for the day' on the board and make sure students copy it into their link books.
    2. Take the register.
    3. Check absence notes in students' link books, reply to parents, and log both. Write reminders to parents who have not provided notes.
    4. Check pupil link books for homework, and parents' signatures. Sign off those that have replies, and write to a note to parents who have not. Log all this.
    5. Check students bags for the correct books they will need for the day: especially time-consuming for KS 4 students with different subjects and timetables.
    6. Check uniforms and record any deficiencies in the link book as a note to parents. Log the same.
    7. AOB.
  20. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    Yes hw diaries. Parents who never sign. A thankless task. If there is no problem with hw completion why bother? If the parent is refusing to engage with school then that is beyond a form tutor's pay grade. And then a detention for something the parent has not done? I hated diaries.

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