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Just when it was all going so well...

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Grandsire, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    I posted a thread last night about a grim meeting I had at work where two members of the SLT picked apart my books, my planning and my marking in front of other colleagues. The thread immediately vanished into the ether, which is probably just as well, but the whole episode has taken the shine and gloss off the new term, which I felt was going so well - I’m up to date with planning and marking, the children are making progress, I’ve established routines and parents seem happy. It’s just nit-picking and fuss over nothing as far as I can see, and it was definitely targeted at me and no one else.

    How do I pick myself up, dust myself off, and carry on doing the good job I think I’m doing? Do I tell them how the meeting made me feel, or do I just pretend it’s all fine so as not to draw any more fire? It wouldn’t be such a problem if they’d said just ONE positive thing about my work...
  2. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    No, you don't tell them how you feel.
    Given that this occurred in the first place, anything you say in self representation will just be distorted into fuel for whatever fire they're secretly stoking.
    Your scenario intimates that you are placed under some sort of radar, and the difficulty for you in the first instance is to resist the attack on the professional elements of your job-your marking, your planning, your books, because it is this attack which hurts. These are the things you devote your time to, and your sense of professional fulfillment comes from these things as well as the actual interaction with and progress of the kids.
    So what they have done is prevented you feeling fulfilled in what you do.
    It doesn't matter what it is exactly they have pulled holes in, they done it in front of others, and they've pulled rank on you.
    Somehow you need to tell yourself that what you do is fine,because, well, I assume it is.
    It might be that they are asking you to adopt a uniform format in your paper work and your marking pens/frequency. Check your school policy, look at what they've asked of you and try to implement it.
    That's all you can do.
    The way they have done this, as I said, is disgraceful, because the biggest consequence is your own self-doubt. Keep that in mind-they made you doubt yourself. That's what they wanted mainly, isn't it?

    It's possible to effect change with a quiet respectful word. They did not choose that way-watch your back and remember how great you are in what you do.
  3. Timothy_Blue

    Timothy_Blue Lead commenter

    Seriously this is surely a sign to escape the insanity that English state education has become.
    This can only head one way if you stay and there lies madness. I wish you all the best.
  4. lardylady

    lardylady Star commenter

    How old are you? Are you 50+ and in the 'danger zone'?
  5. drek

    drek Star commenter

    Absolutely disgusting. Im sorry grandsire...Your line managers are horrible.
    This is how they started the informal/formal process at my last school.
    The questionable 'lead' staff doing it? Their books did not show adherence of their own marking policies. Only taught a couple of coursework classes.
    Their behaviour management? Again did not follow school policy so anyone else who taught their students had a very hard time.
    Their resources? Photocopied by office staff. Produced by other staff.....
    The hypocrisy was staggering and the witch hunting they did laid inhuman waste to a high number of teacher careers not to mention robbing students of qualified staff and replacing them with unqualified and inexperienced staff who they just had to 'label' as 'brilliant' to pass ofsted 'inspections'.
    Education management at it's best obviously......
  6. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Whilst it's not easy to do, I would advise being as assertive in your own defense as you can be - in my experience bullies prefer victims they regard as 'weak'. Defend yourself as strongly as you can. If they find attacking you is tricky, they'll probably find a more compliant victim.

    PS If you're not a member of a Union, I'd join today.
  7. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    @Grandsire : I am sorry, and very sad, to hear what has been done to you. If it is any consolation, many of us have been through similar experiences, and we know how it feels. You have been the victim of an act of psychological warfare played out as a piece of theatre. As @sbkrobson implied, there is little chance that you can try and reason with your tormentors, any more than you could a firing squad. If you try and 'pick yourself up', you will only be knocked down again.

    As you said yourself, 'just when it all seemed to be going so well', so it looks as if you have been ambushed, and made the subject of a 'turkey shoot', in public 'pour encourager les autres'. I wonder how your colleagues, who witnessed what was done to you, reacted, then and subsequently. Were they supportive, or are they distancing themselves from you?

    As @FrankWolley said, a robust defence might give this SMT pause for thought but, as others here have advised, it is time to think of an exit strategy, while you have a career, and your sanity. Since there is nothing wrong with your teaching or paperwork, the SMT have the advantage of vagueness. Playing their game, and asking for their help to improve gives them more ammunition to us against you..

    Teacher: "I'm sorry but I can't see what is wrong with what I have done. perhaps you could tell me."

    Tormentor: "There you have your problem in a nut shell. You just can't see it, can you?"
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  8. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Nothing more to add to the sensible advice above grandsire and I'm sorry you have joined the long list of people who've had to experience this.

    Exit strategy definitely. Keep a written record of any communication, should you need it later for any Union action, particularly e-mail communication, which can 'vanish' strangely, :( so ensure you have backed up copies.
  9. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    Sadly, I think that when this sort of thing happens, it really is time to consider your next move.

    The usual scenario is that you take on board what has been said, you address each of the criticisms in your future prep and marking and you do exactly what has been asked. Then something else crops up- and something else and something else.

    Do make sure that you have written documentation of everything you’ve been asked to do and have responded to, so you can prove you’ve played their game, but don’t expect that it will stop it happening.

    What is absolutely indefensible, is to do this in front of other colleagues. I speak from experience and know how it feels to have to face colleagues after this sort of circumstance. Stay strong, get your ducks in a row and look to move onwards and upwards.
  10. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    Yes, start looking around before this goes any further. They may well leave you in peace if they get wind that you are preparing to move on. So sorry about this.
  11. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I don't know where to start. It just makes we want to sob.

    Do you fancy a bit of a "standing up for myself" scenario? or is that just not on the cards? Too tired, too busy, too fed-up with the whole thing?

    Here's my idea.

    This time? Leave it. See if it happens again. Low profile.

    Next time means it's probably the start of a pattern. Next time wait until afterwards and then have a quiet word. "I don't contest your right to put me straight on this and that but I do draw the line at a public dressing-down. It felt most uncomfortable and I'm sure that's not what you wanted me to take away from it. You don't really want me to go home feeling like a worm, I'm sure. You want me to feel energised and ready to implement a change! No?"

    The third time? Then you do have a pattern, a trend. Then you surely must invoke the union as this could be bullying. Making you into a spectacle? No.

    First time I'm going to put it down to naivety/ignorance on their part.
    Second time I'm definitely feeling the need to reeducate them on their people-management style.
    This time. Nuclear option.

    Best wishes.
  12. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    This sums up what went through my mind perfectly, but I didn't want to say that. The thought of all that leads to both a sense of futility and a feeling of big changes ahead,and it's actually really hard to be proactive when you have both opposing sentiments driving you through the day; sit down and cry, stand up and reinvent yourself. How are you supposed to do both at the same time?!

    When this sort of thing happened to me, (pick, pick, pick....formalised pick pick pick...formalised fail, fail, fail... formalised ultimatum...) my strategy was to focus on the kids, not just teaching in the classroom, but in embracing the interaction with them at school. I kept distance from my colleagues because above me was pernicious subterfuge, and beside me was the worry of being infected into auntsallydom. I'll never know if I was actually making the second thing up, but there's nothing like a sudden silence on entering a busy faculty room to confirm you've been sketched into somebody's fabricated bad book.

    It was a lonely ship and it was great at the time to read eerily similar experiences on these forums. No matter how far you are driven on the continuum-(pick, pick, pick....formalised pick pick pick...formalised fail, fail, fail... formalised ultimatum...)- you are not alone.
  13. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    My first thoughts exactly. Could this be the opening exchange in a campaign to get you out because you are too expensive to employ?
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    As for picking yourself up?

    We have met, have we not?

    It didn't take me more than a minute to have you pegged as a consummate and compassionate professional so don't you dare (for the sake of the kids) doubt yourself for a second.
    chelsea2, Marisha, lardylegs and 10 others like this.
  15. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I'n now in the somewhat fortunate position that if this ever happens to me I will simply walk away and find another job.
  16. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    This is all so awful that to people outside of the teaching profession it would seem unbelievable. It never used to be like this. You learnt your subject to a high level, you did your teacher-training and learnt how to layout your lesson-plans with their aims and objectives clearly set out, and you taught your students, had feedback to make sure they'd learnt what you'd set out to teach and then moved on to the next lesson in the same way. I can't remember anyone other than those at teacher-training who examined your lesson plans. It is almost incredible and it makes me wonder if they have nothing more important to do with their day. Good luck. Don't let the bullies win!
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Oh, and I'm sorry for using the "sake of the kids" argument. I hate that. I wrote in haste.

    What I meant was that your kids are lucky to have you as their teacher and I want you going in there and doing what you do because I can bet my cotton socks that the numpties who spoke to you like this aren't fit to wipe your boots.
  18. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    Thank you, all of you, for your kindnesses and words of wisdom - I can't tell you how much it means to read them and know there is support here. It's such a shame that there aren't more people like you working in my school. I think it used to have people like you, but there aren't many left now.

    Yes, you guessed correctly - I'm an older member of staff and yes, I'm very expensive. I'm also probably quite a thorn in their side because I do the job the way I see it, so this was a way of intimidating me to make sure I am following all their instructions to the letter, regardless of their irrelevance or workload implications.

    Yes, I felt completely ambushed by the planned two-pronged attack, and I went home feeling full of self-doubt - am I really not able to plan lessons which help my pupils make progress? Have I taught enough of this? Am I concentrating too heavily on that? Isn't it a bit early in the term to have everything in place? Thankfully, one colleague did speak up in my defence during the meeting - they are doing pretty much the same as me, and they didn't seem to get anything like the criticism, and they defended me when they knew things were unjust. Like me, they are just hoping to keep their head down and get on with doing the best job they can, and tick enough boxes to get by unscathed. They think the things I've been doing are really helpful, and want to implement some of my ideas in their own teaching, so it can't be that incompetent or wrong.

    I haven't said anything to anyone else about how it made me feel - trust me, there's really no point in challenging the behaviour of the SLT any higher up - but I have made a written record of what was said this time in case the situation is repeated or escalates. I am in a union - just hope it doesn't get that bad.

    Excellent advice from you all, thank you. I've had a happy time at this place on the whole, and being expensive, it's hard to see how moving on elsewhere will enable me to still pay all the bills, so I'll bite my tongue this time and see what happens.

    Thanks again, everyone.
    teachers-pet, Yoda-, Marisha and 6 others like this.
  19. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    (GDW, yes, we have met! I think I'll copy your very kind posts and stick it in my planner so I can look at it any time I need to. Bless you!)
  20. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Yes, excellent idea to refer back to after a bad day. :)

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