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How would you deal with this troublemaker?

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by smartiemonster, May 5, 2016.

  1. smartiemonster

    smartiemonster New commenter

    So... I have a staff member who is intent on discrediting me. When I am out of the room she attempts to engage other staff in a bitching session about me. She has shouted in my face because I asked her to change the way she is working to be more in line with school expectations. She has refused to come to some meetings. Twice in the past week I have overheard her talking about me in a less than professional manner. When we have new starters the first thing she does is run to them and try to convince them I don't know what I am doing. I have put up with it for 2 years now, attempted to turn a blind eye and hope that given enough rope...
    But now I have had enough. She is causing a bad atmosphere and she needs to grow up. How would you approach this?
  2. Luvsskiing

    Luvsskiing Established commenter

    Find her a boyfriend. It sounds like she needs something you may not be able to provide. Alternatively, you need to have evidence of specific things, and then you need to involve the Head and have a formal meeting about her unacceptable behaviour and what needs to change. The Head must be willing to back you up forcefully. Be calm, professional, but firm. Then it needs to be monitored. You've made it worse by not dealing with this properly for years so she 'knows' she can say and do what she likes.
    VeronicAmb and wanet like this.
  3. smartiemonster

    smartiemonster New commenter

    No, I haven't made it worse. The head knows there is an issue but I just keep getting told to be overly nice to her and she'll start behaving. The head thinks she's outstanding, I have seen her teach, it's not great, the kids play up and they can't stand her. They only behave because the head is in the room and my learning walk reports get shoved under the carpet. I have documented everything.
    I meant would you put her through a disciplinary?
  4. Luvsskiing

    Luvsskiing Established commenter

    You need the Head on board so you need compelling evidence that she is behaving inappropriately towards you. What evidence do you have her teaching is a problem? Have you done formal lesson observations, and has someone else confirmed what you think with their own formal observations? Is she not meeting performance targets? Are their complaints from parents? There appears to be two completely different problems here, her attitude to you and her teaching. Dealing with her teaching and standards should be easy to provide evidence of, using formal lesson observations, targets not met etc. Her bad-mouthing you is much harder to evidence.

    You need to press your Head into supporting you and altering what they think of her and that means providing evidence of a problem. I would put down all your evidence in an email, tell the Head there is a problem that needs to be actioned and request a meeting with him or her, as their previous advice has not worked. Is there a specific section opinion the disciplinary procedures dealing with this?

    Using the disciplinary procedure is the way forward, but be prepared for the worst; you could be accused of bullying, having a formal complaint made against you, time off with sickness, making her attitude worse towards you etc. I agree it must be dealt with but make sure you have plenty of evidence and the Head's support or you are wasting your time. Be prepared for her to deny everything. Evidence, evidence, evidence. You must be very professional about this and follow your procedures to the letter.

    I do sympathise. I've had to deal with this in the dim and distant past and it ain't easy. But deal with it you must.
  5. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    As well as, in fact more important than, lesson observations what are her results like? If they are below par that would be the clincher. Is this primary or secondary.
  6. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    you need to document things. If you have a meeting invite her by email. If you want her to do something send her an email asking for the work to be done by a certain date. Then if she refuses to co operate you have evidence. She might still talk about you though. You will probably have to rise above this.
  7. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    By 'new starters' do you mean children? Surely in 2 years there aren't many new staff? Either is of course wrong, but if she says anything to the children you must tell SLT.
  8. smartiemonster

    smartiemonster New commenter

    I mean staff. We've had a few changes and an expansion so we have taken on lots of new people, lost a few and gained some more.
    Her results are so-so. About 45% A-C, about average for our school. But I have fended off a lot of complaints from parents saying they have had to get tutors for her subject.
    I am just fed up of her bitching and attempts at bullying me. Worried if I confront her, she'll throw a wobbly like last year and threaten to resign, and the head will pander to her.
  9. nical73

    nical73 Occasional commenter

    I had a similar problem with a member of support staff who would take every opportunity to 'belittle' me in front of children, talk disrespectfully to me and question every management decision I made. Sounds ridiculous to others but when faced with this each and every day it becomes stressful and does begin to affect your health. I have been in the school for 20 years and this member three years. Very intimidating but difficult to prove. I began to keep a log at home and discussed this with the head. Eventually, after an incident where I had asked children to do something and she argued in front of the children, questioning my decision, I plucked up the courage to speak with her in private and simply ask what the problem was. She became extremely aggressive and insulting. This is where I walked away, phoned my union and composed a letter asking her to refrain from the behaviour which was having a negative affect on my working conditions. The letter was worded with help from the union which ended with a simple statement saying if this stops then we can move forward- if it continues then I will have no choice but to seek professional advice, inline with school policy on harassment and bullying, and will have no choice but to take it further.
    The letter did the trick. Gave a copy to the member of staff, my union and the head. Glad to say, fingers crossed, that was a few weeks ago and nothing since.
    Never have I had to, or wished to, do this before. Bullies need to be stopped and as long as you do things correctly there are ways forward. I completely understand your worries and stress and wish you luck.
  10. Futureleader

    Futureleader Occasional commenter

    Staff talking about HoD behind back is kinda normal. We all let of steam about our boss. This seems to be beyond the normal. Maybe she feels out of place because she is jealous or thought she could do a better job. I have tried to get along side a colleague like this. Over do the "I really value your advice ". Ask them their ideas on things before the meeting. It is harder for them to criticise ideas they were part of. Give them some leadership role and delegate tasks. When they are facing criticism and unsupportive staff it is amazing how quickly they re enter the fold. Be honest with them. If they are not fulfilling their contract then a formal route needs to be taken. Disarm with asking advice first.
  11. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I don't understand why you have waited two years to tackle ?
    VeronicAmb and wanet like this.
  12. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    Just as it's perfectly possible for a Year 7 to bully Year 11s, it's possible for a classroom teacher to bully someone higher up the chain of command. And this is what it is.
    thistooshallpass likes this.
  13. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    I've been HoD for 6 years now; whilst being a SL for 4 years prior to HoD and I've not once experienced this before. It's such a shame.

    But I'm the sort of person that doesn't take any nonsense from my students,from my kids, or my partner, so I sure as hell do not wanna do the run-around with staff. I come through those school doors to work, not play games. Tell this person you mean business and if they are undermining your authority, then it's time you need to step up as HoD. I quite say that it seems unprofessional of you not to have dealt with this when it began... TWO years ago.. You've just pushed it under the rug rather than dealing with it head on and now (no surprise) it has gotten worse.

    You need to provide lots of evidence of her doing this and that. I would suggest you put your phone on record, get her in an office and see if she acts up. Forget her teaching for now, just focus on her horrendous attitude.

    Unfortunately, some b*****s never leave their "High School" phase.
  14. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Ignore the bitching. Deal with the verifiable behaviour - it is not acceptable for her to shout in your face or to skip meetings. If you speak to the HT, focus on these clear examples of unacceptable behaviour and how you should ensure they are not repeated.
  15. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    To be honest, your school sounds a little dysfunctional
  16. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    What on Earth do you think you can infer from this sort of thing? I hope you do not judge your other colleagues on this basis.

    If, even by your reckoning, her teaching is average for the school, then you will need to focus on other areas where she is not following policy etc and produce evidence, provide opportunity for change etc.

  17. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    You really feel it's normal for staff to b about each other? In my whole career, in so many different schools, this just didn't tend to happen. It was very rare-the norm was for a department to be like a family and we all supported each other.
    What's happened to schools?
    Is everyone on the computer and not spending breaks talking together?
  18. install

    install Star commenter

    Consult your Union and take it from there.
  19. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I'd never shout in the face of either of my hods, nor skip meetings without good reason. Mainly because I have respect for them as hod. This member of staff clearly has no respect for you at all and knows nothing will be done.

    Have a look at your job description and work out which parts of managing staff you are responsible for. Also look at what you are finding hard to manage and ask for help from more experienced leaders/ your line manager.

    No you shouldn't be considering disciplinary procedures, because you can't. All you can do is complain to the head and leave them to investigate and take action as they see fit. It is one option, but it certainly won't solve your problem!
  20. Phoenixing

    Phoenixing New commenter

    This definitely sounds like something you need to tackle. I would recommend the following:

    * Decide which area you are going to tackle, either her ability to do her job or her professionalism in dealing with you. From what you've said it doesn't look as though she is inept enough to merit the former, so you may have to bite the bullet and be prepared to deal with her unprofessional behaviour.

    * If you feel you can, try to have a restorative meeting with her - it may help to have this mediated by someone neutral. Your union rep might be able to do that as if you bring senior leadership into it, it all seems a bit formal. If you end up taking things further, this will show that you, as a leader, have taken steps first to resolve the problem and that she has been unable to respond to that (and you never know - maybe she will say something that will help you make sense of how she is acting.)

    * Find out if your school or your council has a 'fair treatment at work' policy or some such equivalent. Arm yourself with it. If she talks about you unprofessionally, you have a right to deal with that and there should be a policy to help with it.

    * Log everything. I mean everything. If there are witnesses to incidents, log that too.

    * Where possible put request in writing, for example invitations to departmental meetings. If she shouts at you when you are doing your job, refuse to carry on the conversation and put in writing whatever you were going to say.

    * Be polite and courteous at all times, super-professional if you will. Include her in everything.

    * Absolutely continue to monitor her teaching and other professional duties, but only to the extent that you would another member of your department. You do not want her to be able to say that you are treating her unfairly.

    * Be thick-skinned about her bitching, if you can, if you are hearing it second-hand. Only act on things you see directly, or if someone else is going 'on record' to make a complaint.

    * When you feel you have enough evidence as per the policy I mentioned above, speak to your union rep to see what you can do next.

    I hope this is helpful in some way.

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