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Telling tales...

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Grandsire, Sep 22, 2018.

  1. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    It’s bad enough that my pupils constantly tell me tales about what other children in the class are doing wrong, trying to get them into trouble for the slightest misdemeanour - but I can deal with that myself. The problem is that we also appear to have a member of staff doing the same thing to colleagues, by reporting on to management the people who, for example, make mild criticisms of the way things are run, or say negative things in unguarded moments. Like the things my kids tell me, it’s never anything really serious, and the tell-tale isn’t being affected by it. The offender gets a surprise invitation to a meeting for an unpleasant ‘informal chat’ with the head, while the tell-tale pretends nothing has happened and even feigns concern for the person when word gets out they’ve been told off. There have been a number of occasions of them reporting on different people, but although a number of us know exactly who is responsible, we haven’t said anything to them about it because, well... they’re obviously very popular with the management...

    I’ve never come across anything like it at work before, but I’m really finding it hard to reply to the tell-tale’s cheery “Hello!” each morning when I know what they do and how they choose to behave. In fact, I’m wondering if I even dare open my mouth in their presence, but worry I’ll be reported next if I appear to be unfriendly towards them!

    Why does someone choose to behave like this, (can it be they get a pay rise for each bit of information?!) and what can be done about it?
  2. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    some places are like that, you just have to play the game and guard your tongue.
  3. Mermaid7

    Mermaid7 Occasional commenter

    There’s someone like that in every workplace and in every group of friends. Don’t say or write anything that you wouldn’t want to be printed on the front page of a newspaper tomorrow.
  4. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Teaching seems to attract a large number of people with some kind of personality disorder (e.g. compulsive liars, serial gossips, bullies, tattle tails, control freaks, know-it-alls)... I experienced this kind of thing only once before going into teaching, but now it's something I see daily, and I hate it.
  5. Alice K

    Alice K Occasional commenter

    I have occasionally come across characters like this during my teaching career, which spans 30 years. However,I feel that this kind of 'snitching' to management is more prevalent nowadays than in the past.

    There used to be a feeling of camaraderie within the staffroom and everybody understood that once in a while, people needed to vent frustrations with pupils and management. After all, the job can be very demanding at times.

    I have also observed that comments, opinions and views expressed in the staffrooms are more regularly 'reported' to the management team. It has often resulted in management referencing these views. Often these references have been expressed during staff meetings and have been thinly veiled criticisms. There have even been impromptu visits to the staffroom by management where they have referred to opinions expressed, sometimes directly,sometimes obliquely. Clearly, management are trying to supress open and honest discussion by teachers within the staffroom. This is a worrying trend.

    More often than not, teachers suspect/know who the 'mole' is, usually a member of staff who has designs on a future management role, or a 'weak' teacher who needs the security of being close to their line managers. It still amazes me that they prefer this type of relationship over a collegiate relationship with others who are facing similar classroom challenges.

    I have happily mentored many young teachers. I learn from them and hopefully, they learn from me. I also pride myself that I have mutually supportive relationships with my fellow class teachers. I remain professional in my relationships with management but retain some respectful distance.This is important, as it gives me a certain amount of autonomy within the class.

    Colleagues who relay staffroom conversations, risk isolating themselves from the very people who can support them when needed. It is a shame that they create this distance between themselves and fellow teachers. They are missing out on so much. I treasure the laughs, moans and sometimes the times of desperation that this challenging job throws at you. Why? Mainly because I can share all of them with others who understand.

    Teaching can be a lonely job.You are often the only adult in a class of young children who depend on you to be all you can be all day long. It is vital that you have opportunities to express successes and frustrations without repercussions unless there is a serious/ safeguarding issue of course. Let's support one another.
  6. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I once worked in school where teachers were not allowed to meet or talk anywhere except in public, in the staffroom..... no sharing a cup of tea and chatting together in your classroom while marking after school, or anything like that

    I didn't stay long
  7. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    It's not just in the world of teaching where this happens, as there is in fact one poster on these forums who behaves exactly as you describe, albeit on a virtual level and via the written word.
    I suppose the best strategy for you, as I do on here with that person, is avoid and ignore.
    And then with the self engineered distance of this , you can adopt a "rather sorry for you that you clearly need to fill a deep seated void in your life" stance.
    Curae, jlishman2158, BioEm and 3 others like this.
  8. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    So don't speak to them, unless a general greeting is required. Don't speak about anything personal if they are listening.

    If they are ear wigging a professional conversation, make them join in and commit to a point of view.
  9. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    I worked with a head like that. He was a proper gossip too. We quickly learned not to comment on anything or anyone, because it would be public knowledge in minutes.

    The upside was, that since everyone knew that he talked about e erroneous else, you knew he’d be talking about you too and we stopped bothering about what he said.
  10. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    The bottom line is that your colleagues aren't, and shouldn't be, your friendship group. Be polite, be friendly, socialise with them on 'special' occasions, but always remember that a number of them are jealous of you, and some of them may want your job!
  11. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    Spot on, Alice! They buddied-up to the most critical managers very quickly, possibly because they saw it as a way to avoid insecurity in their job. It’ll be interesting to see if they go for management responsibility in future - they’d be the preferred choice, of course. The nauseating part is that they pretend to be so kind to everyone, even the people they have reported to management - do they really think we don’t know it’s them?

    The management is also at fault for listening to them, I think, and encouraging it. Most of what they find out from the tell-tale should is just the result of exasperated teachers expressing valid and understandable opinions.
    henrypm0, Alice K, Jamvic and 3 others like this.
  12. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    (Ha ha, Foxtail, I’ve just read your signature line about finishing projects involving wool that are 95% done ... Are you SPYING on me from my spare room or something, hmmm?? :D:D)
  13. koopatroopa

    koopatroopa Senior commenter

    Plant misinformation to make the snitch ridiculous. Claim you've stopped marking the children's books, that you're beginning all lessons with a pledge of allegiance to the EU, that you're teaching children to pole dance in PE...
    Curae, Catgirl1964, katykook and 20 others like this.
  14. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    Ha ha ha! Love it!

    I’ll start this week.
    Curae, blazer, Jamvic and 1 other person like this.
  15. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    An offshoot of this behaviour that I had to contend with was colleagues telling tales on my children when they were pupils in my school. One particular teacher would say to our eldest "What would your dad say if I was to tell him about this?" to which our eldest (to her credit) would reply "Would you tell anyone else's parents about this, and if not, why would you tell mine?".

    On my side if someone sidled up to me with some trivial tale I'd say "Get our home number from the office and tell her Mum - we've agreed that Mum will be the first point of contact." They never did.

    Whilst I appreciated the occasional pastoral heads up if there were any emotional issues, I had no time for tittle tattle about minor behaviour transgressions. Teachers' kids are only human and they're not automatically perfect pupils. They often have a hard time from some of their peers because of their parent's role. I think a few teachers project their own expectations and aspirations onto other teachers' children, because they can't face the thought that their own kids might somehow be imperfect in school.

    Brilliant - like pouring coloured dye down the plughole to see where it leaks out further down. Great thinking.
  16. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    I learned quite early that unless I wanted my comments broadcast, to keep quiet. gossip (or worse) can be very destructive. So I only ever said nice things or kept it neutral "I don't really know." or "I can't say." It does work.
    And I have taught children of colleagues, for whom a similar self-imposed rule applied. I would make a comment to the parent only if, under other circumstances, I'd have written the comment in the planner. On occasion, the parent might approach me first and I would try to treat it like any other parental contact.
    Professionalism first! The mean-spirited people who carry tales are not behaving like adults. Be polite and professionsl and tell them NOTHING.
  17. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    We've just got rid of someone like that.

    Just don't have anything to do with them - they will get themselves into trouble eventually.
  18. baitranger

    baitranger Senior commenter

    How awful it would be if the "tell-tale" accumulated a large number of adverse comments on Rate your .....
    and those adverse comments were reported. Of course no true professional would dream of doing such a thing.
    Catgirl1964 and blazer like this.
  19. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    That's what happened to me. We had a small coven of them and I got to the point of merely avoiding all contact and pretty much cowering away from them. And got in trouble for being unfriendly and not a team player!

    Yeps, that happened too!
    Leadership of areas at which they were incredibly weak and so continued to need to rely on SLT! :rolleyes:

    Smile and pretend appears to be the only way...and look for a new post.
    gold19951 and Grandsire like this.
  20. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Something I began to notice whilst working in different schools - when you're new there the first person to be friendly can often be a person with few friends. It can take a bit longer to connect with established friendship groups, and for good reason - they need to be able to trust each other. Being kept at arm's length to begin with isn't always a bad thing.

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