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Staffroom Dilemma

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Kiwi71, Jul 15, 2019.

  1. Kiwi71

    Kiwi71 New commenter

    Kiwi71New commenter
    Advice please:
    Summary of the issue. We have a very welcoming staff; new staff members are always made to feel very comfortable. We have a mixture of ages, experience, cultures and everyone eats and socialises in the staffroom together: teachers, teacher aides, other support staff, admin etc. Because we are a very diverse staff we respect each other's religions and cultural backgrounds. It's a lovely place to work.
    Last term a new teacher, MM, arrived - she's a supernumerary who has been placed with us because of her health issues e.g. inability to move around a large school, or up and down stairs. Of course there is sympathy for her health issues and this has been expressed. From her arrival MM has shared a lot (I mean A LOT) about her health, personal life, financial issues and many other issues. MM also interjects into many conversations with her own stories: "That happened to me once....", "I also had that procedure done....", "I had a friend who had that happen....". An example: a young teacher aide was away for a couple of days and on her return she was talking about her young friend who had been diagnosed with bowel cancer. She was very upset and staff were offering her support and sympathy. MM, in usual fashion, told a story about her friend with bowel cancer who had surgery and treatment but died anyway. Very inappropriate story at that time!! Add to everything else a sprinkling of racism and other inappropriate comments; as you can imagine it's all a bit much. Many staff members no longer come to the staffroom, myself included, which is really sad because this has had an effect on our culture.
    MM was only suppose to be at our school for 1 term whilst a permanent location was found for her, so staff have been very tolerant. However, now she has returned for a second term so people are thinking it is time to speak up about this. MM has very little self-awareness and I'm sure she would not know that people are feeling this way despite crickets chirping every time she says something inappropriate!! Staff are always very kind and respectful.
    So, can anyone offer some advice? Perhaps even a script to use as a conversation starter? Were you like MM and did someone speak to you about it? Please don't even reply to this if you are going to say suck it up or she can't help it! This is well beyond tolerable. I'd like some genuine and constructive advice please. Thanks in advance.
  2. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

    You don't have to tolerate inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour. To make it stop, you will have to do something about it.
    If you and/or others think that it's time to speak up, do so. Whenever this person is saying inappropriate things, tell them either at the time or by having a quiet word in private. If there is no improvement, talk to your SLT.
    Report it.
    jlishman2158 and Stiltskin like this.
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Firstly, I feel for you!

    From reading this, it looks as if she struggles with social situations, but rather lapsing into silence, she opens her mouth and it all flows out. My experience of people like this is that it is very difficult (for me) to stop them.
    I don't think you need a conversation starter, maybe a "NO! IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO TALK ABOUT...LIKE THIS" when she says something inappropriate. Alternatively, when she starts up about "when I was on the operating table" someone says "we were talking about our friend" and move across to the other side of the staff room.
    Trouble is both of these will hurt her.
    Maybe she's been placed with you because every other school in the area's tried her and found her dificult. Maybe you need to ask the head to move her on again.
    jlishman2158 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I'm of an age I'd have gone through the following:

    shake my head at her
    mouth "Sh!"
    waggle my hands at her
    sit next to her and nudge her
    poke her
    etc etc etc etc

    Well, look.

    Someone takes her to one side so she doesn't lose face in public. "Sweetie, I know you're having a tough time but the staff here are flagging. You know, luv, end of the year etc. Can we keep it light-hearted? Positive? We're really sympathetic toward you but it can all get a bit much. How about I tip you the wink when the conversation is getting into troubled waters. You now. Just to keep everyone sweet. Yes?"

    One of you needs to do this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    If you’ve not seen this series, check it out. There’s someone in one of the episodes who behaves exactly like Evie.
  6. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    ....and yet you cannot handle one single somebody who is socially objectionable?

    I've worked in schools like yours before.
    Smiley smiley happy clappy. Because it's the right thing to do. Either that, or just stay out of it altogether please.
    Contrary to you saying "everyone eats and socialises in the staffroom together" I think you'll find you are wrong. Do a head count next time and compare it to the number of actual staff. There will be an inevitable handful to whom it is sheer hell to have to eat and smile and laugh together in the staffroom, because in fact they need something other than that in their downtime. Dunno-silence? problem sharing? parenting advice? crude jokes? cryptic crosswords? knitting? meditation?
    Perhaps it is those staff who do not include themselves in staffroom cliquery who may be more inclined to get on with this person.

    In the meantime,I am genuinely sorry that they had to go and ruin it for you by being needy.
    I'm even sorrier that somebody somewhere in this thread suggested that you report them. I've seen this before too-a "welcoming staff" who wield secret daggers. Pfft.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
  7. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Some people don't like it when they get advice they don't like. I suppose it is a good idea to make sure that nobody does.
    les25paul, Pomza and CWadd like this.
  8. hs9981

    hs9981 Established commenter

    Clearly there is an end of year staff party coming up soon.

    There are several options open to you.

    There is a company that 'kidnaps' someone and 'releases' them in Belgium. A little pricy in these Brexit days. Depending on the size of the staffroom, it could prove economical.
  9. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Not sure how kind and respectful of is to openly slate someone on here, giving enough detail that others from your school might recognise.

    She sounds like someone who likes attention, who may even be a bit lonely. Or a Walter Mitty who has many secret lives in her head. By all means go ahead and report her. But what do you hope to gain? She won't change her behaviour if she's as tin eared to social cues as you claim.
  10. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    Or possible Asperger’s, it is not uncommon in teachers.
  11. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I've revisited the opening post, and I actually find a few things about it a bit creepy.
    What sort of convivial arrangement is it to have somebody in your midst who is commonly known to be employed because of their health issues?
    Was this announced to everybody in secret? Was it told to you by your employers? Did they share this nugget themselves?
    I cannot see how any of these can be true-it can only be a factoid that has been shared on the gossip wagon. You've made a big thing about it in your post. How on earth is that relevant to our impression of how horrible they are?
    And how do you know that many members no longer want to go to the staffroom precisely because of her? Was this formally announced? No-it can only have come to your "knowledge" via gossip.
    I wont go on-your post is a campaign. You have subjectively knocked this person into a shameful corner because of their character, and you have stated that many of you feel this way. At the same time you have made a point of saying how nice and lovely you all are!
    If I decide I don't like a member of staff, it is of utmost importance to me to not share those feelings. Ever. And similarly I have no idea whether others feel the same and nor do I want to know. The person you describe in your post-I don't care how dislikable they are, because the level of the ostracisation you demonstrate in your words far outweighs the fact of them irritating.

    I wonder how relevant your role is in this. Are you a teacher too?
    steely1, Laphroig, saluki and 5 others like this.
  12. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Yes, someone does her a kindness by taking her to one side. She mustn't get a public dressing-down! Just be tactful.
  13. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    Aside from the starting point of you don't want to hear that you are wrong I need to go back through your assertions.

    So she is an open and candid person and from your post I infer that the rest of you are not.

    Sounds like a small school. But I do not understand why you have not asked the more experience/older staff how to deal with this person? Are you speaking just for yourself?

    Did you all stand up and say I don't need to listen to this and excuse yourselves walking out of the room or simply away from the person making racist comments( or whatever.

    If you did not do this then this person is not getting the message are they?

    Has anyone interrupted her and informed her that she is transgressing certain boundaries?

    Has anyone said "thanks for sharing but..."

    Has anyone said "please could you not interrupt Colonel Mustard I wanted to know what he did with the candlestick in library, you can tell us what your did with it later...if there is time"

    You don't have to be rude. You don't have to avoid her if you have good manners to to explain her "social faux pas".

    So you won't mind me saying that you should also remind yourself of John 8:7.
    Piranha, Mermaid7 and sbkrobson like this.
  14. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Yes, I wondered the same, but it seemed a bit close to the banned "she can't help it!".
    Lara mfl 05, CWadd and afterdark like this.
  15. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    That's a good post, much of it resonates.
    (Even if reminding of John 8:7 kind of spoils it with presumption.
    John who? And which Wimbledon match was it precisely?)
    CWadd likes this.
  16. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Sounds to me that 'new staff members are always made to feel very comfortable' as long as they don't upset the status quo. As long as they aren't too confident in the staffroom. As long as they let the gossip mongers run the show. Any deviation from this and s/he will definitely not be welcome anymore.

    The 'in crowd' of gossips no longer come to the staffroom...I imagine many staff are very pleased. I also imagine those staff are off gossiping about poor MM in someone's classroom.

    'Crickets chirping' every time MM says something they don't like? Sounds nasty and bullying to me.

    Constructive advice? Start being the tolerant and welcoming staff you claim to be. Welcome people with all characters and behaviours. Be patient with those who don't fit your narrow view of appropriate, you may learn something from them.

    You definitely shouldn't be saying anything to MM about her manner and behaviour. She isn't doing anything wrong, other than upsetting the bullies. Leave her alone.
    steely1, Gsr25, saluki and 2 others like this.
  17. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Interesting how MM is being criticised for over sharing. I feel a colleague divulging a friend - not a spouse, partner, or child - has cancer is also over sharing. Plus if you're that upset, best to go to HR or LM if it'll affect your work. Sounds like a staff room where there needs to be constant drama and breathless " you'll never guess what happened to me!" tales. Then MM has to spoil it by having better stories than everyone else. Oh dear.
  18. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    My thought is also Aspergers (as someone possibly on the spectrum myself.) Asperger people (Aspies, whatever) do sometimes over share and are very poor at picking up non verbal cues in communication. Not through laziness or anything like that, the body languagey lubrication of communication can seem like a different frequency to Aspergers people.
    It’s a difficult one. People with Aspergers often have low enough social self esteem as it is without being told they are doing it wrong. Maybe, maybe someone could take her aside and remind her the staff room is not the place for racism or inappropriate comments.
    I might get shot down by the OP for suggesting this but I detect a hint of jealousy in the post that this person can mainly stay in the staff room?
  19. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

  20. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    aegrif likes this.

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