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Unprofessional emails - I don’t know what to do

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by clementinesandbrazilnuts, Jun 25, 2020.

  1. clementinesandbrazilnuts

    clementinesandbrazilnuts New commenter

    I’m really pretty shocked with a couple of emails I’ve received from colleagues, to the point where the one I got this morning made me feel quite shaken.

    I’m desperately feeling as if I need some time off. I am anxious, worried, and jittery, constantly feeling as if I’m doing things wrong and to be honest I do feel bullied. I absolutely hate saying that as it evokes images of year 8 dramas but I do.

    however, I’m in a very vulnerable position as I’m working on a temporary contract and am 16 weeks pregnant. Normally I would seriously be asking to be realised early from my contract as I’m utterly miserable but at the moment I just can’t do that. But what can I do?
  2. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    I suggest you phone your Union and talk to them. Tell them what is in the emails, and who they are from. They will be able to advise you on what steps to take next.
  3. cheesypop

    cheesypop Senior commenter

    If you are not in a union (please join one!!), then ask a trusted, impartial friend to read them and see if you are overreacting. I’m not saying you are, but this is a very tense time, you have the added pregnancy hormones and tone can be difficult to read in an email. A second perspective could help you decide how to move forward.
  4. clementinesandbrazilnuts

    clementinesandbrazilnuts New commenter

    Thank you both, I don’t think I overreact as a rule but I do know what you mean.

    I think normally, if I was on a permanent contract, I would be talking to someone senior, not with the aim to get anybody into trouble but just to try to smooth things over and have a more positive environment. But I feel as if I can’t do that.
  5. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    You can talk to somebody senior about this on a temporary contract. If the emails are from your line manager, then you can talk to your senior line manager.

    Reading between the lines, you seem to have this idea that the school can dismiss you as you are pregnant and on a temporary contract. As far as I know, you cannot be dismissed for being pregnant. If the postholder returns then the job ceases to exist.
  6. clementinesandbrazilnuts

    clementinesandbrazilnuts New commenter

    I know C, and this is where it’s a little complicated. Because I think they could well persuade the post holder to return early, which would obviously leave me in an incredibly difficult position. SLT for the most part are actually very nice and approachable but if I’m honest I can’t see them supporting a temporary member of staff who will be leaving in the late autumn anyway over permanent members of staff they will want to retain (there has been a lot of staffing turbulence.)
    Marshall likes this.
  7. Marshall

    Marshall Star commenter

    I am happy to read and comment if you want someone impartial?

    Send me a conversation if so! x
    strawbs likes this.
  8. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    The facts are these:

    Emails have upset you.
    You can talk to your union or an impartial friend to discern whether the email is justified or unacceptable.
    If it is unacceptable, you can approach SLT to try and smooth things over.

    If there has been staffing turbulence, they might want to hang onto a member of staff until the postholder is ready to return. Unless it has been indicated to you that they would rather you leave early, in which case might be for the best to ignore this, look forward to the Summer break, and leaving when the contract ends.

    Sorry if this sounds snappy - but you seem very upset, and there are options to deal with this.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
  9. clementinesandbrazilnuts

    clementinesandbrazilnuts New commenter

    It doesn’t sound snappy at all, thank you.

    I have shared them with a close friend and my partner and both agree that while they are unpleasant in tone they probably aren’t in themselves all that terrible, so I probably am overreacting a bit!

    It is horrible though, I really wish people wouldn’t do that. It puts me off asking anything because I think I’ll get a response ‘shouting’ or that has the sort of tone that sounds bland enough but actually manages to convey that you are an incompetent fool who shouldn’t be let near a child, computer or classroom, ever :)
    TheoGriff likes this.
  10. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Wouldn’t worry about it, it’s the holidays in 3 weeks and you’re leaving soon anyway. Focus on the positives things in life...
  11. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    I think the problem is that there has been so little contact with people in person over the last 14 weeks that "email etiquette" has been lost for some people. As @Pomza says, focus on the positives.
  12. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    If I recall correctly, the postholder isn't due back until February, so I think they would be very lucky to persuade her back any earlier than Christmas. People value that time with their baby, and they shouldn't feel at all pressured to curtail maternity leave. I think I mentioned the possibility that they would try and persuade her back earlier - but to close the gap between you leaving and her coming back (and hence the time that might be covered by day-to-day supply), not to get you out earlier.

    Have you actually told your school that you are pregnant yet?

    The impression I get is that you are totally eaten up with panic about how they will react to that, and so you probably are panicking about everything else.
    caterpillartobutterfly and CWadd like this.
  13. clementinesandbrazilnuts

    clementinesandbrazilnuts New commenter

    It’s a bit more complex than that frustum, because the school is part of a small academy trust. The lady who is on maternity leave actually teaches at one of the other schools in the trust and the lady I am covering was seconded to that school, so almost like a maternity leave twice removed, if that makes any sense at all!

    I have told them I’m pregnant. I really did want to wait until the 12 week scan and my results came back as low risk. What I didn’t want and was very worried about was finding out the baby had a condition incompatible with life and having to have a fairly late termination. This may yet happen but it doesn’t look likely, which isn’t of course the same as impossible as I haven’t had my 20 week scan yet.

    I genuinely have done my absolute best to try to do the right thing but it hasn’t been easy. Like a lot of teachers I have had to very rapidly embrace a lot of technology I was previously completely unfamiliar with (and I still cannot make head or tail of Teams or OneDrive.) And it’s awful when you get that sick feeling that’s nothing to do with your pregnancy when you know yet again you are clueless and will have to ask a question.
  14. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    If you're struggling with the technology, perhaps you can say to your line manager "Look, I'm a bit of a klutz with the technology, and everyone must be fed up of my questions. Is there another member of staff who could give me some support with this?" Perhaps if they can find a sympathetic and patient colleague, not necessarily in your immediate team, that might help.
    agathamorse and Kartoshka like this.
  15. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I'm not sure that is a good thing to do.
    If you have organisational emails, they are probably footed with the instruction that they are intended for you to read only. This is put there for many reasons. Sure, this is problematic because if the emails cause you anxiety, you are going to need to resolve that.
    But you have attempted to do that by posting here.
    So you've shown the emails to your nearest and dearest. And then you've posted concern about them on a public forum.
    Have you actually replied to them expressly to explain the effect of them?

    Dunno, I just feel ominous discomfort in showing work emails to non work people. Would you like it if your colleagues took one of your emails and showed it to their family, and said "can you actually believe what they have said, look at this!"?

    So be careful-you name this thread "unprofessional emails" so surely your starting point for dealing with it ought to be professional?

    In the big scheme of the problem you describe, this is a fairly minor point, but as working practice it is wrong, and carries potential to make things go against you.

    If you are worried about further emails impacting on you emotionally, you ought to define a window of time when you look at them, inform others around you that tea may be needed, action the emails you can and then delete the rest. If something is urgent and you've deleted it, people will ask again.
  16. clementinesandbrazilnuts

    clementinesandbrazilnuts New commenter

    I agree, and in fact I did edit them so that any identifying details were blacked out and only the part I was concerned about showed.

    I do think there is a difference in shouting at a colleague and talking to a friend, though!

    Frustum - yes, that’s what I tried to do originally but I’ve had such impatient and irritable responses that I realised it was unwise to ask, so I don’t.
  17. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    Your contract will outline what notice period is. I imagine it will say a month though. That is the problem with any temporary contract, it is temporary and there is no guarantee it will last through to the advertised date. Which is also true for the school, as in your case. As that is out of your hands there is little point in worrying about if it may end earlier than you wish. All you can do is put as much money aside as is realistic to do just in case.

    There is plenty of instructions on MS Teams online so you don't have to rely on support from your school. For example -
    Or https://teams.rocks/2020/04/11/teams-for-education-faq/
    Also there are groups on facebook that you can ask questions to as well (just search the posts first to see if someone has already asked it)

    MS OneDrive is effectively just a hard drive. A place where you can save files, just as you do on your own computer. The main difference is this drive is connected to the internet which means you can access it anywhere you are connected to the internet. This also means you can share files or folders with other people very easily as when you give them permission (or they give you permission) you can also see these files or folders on that drive. Onedrive also synchronises some files and fodlers to your computer to make them easy to access and available even if your internet connection goes down. These are shown with a green tick by them when you look at them in File Explorer on your Windows PC/laptop.
  18. clementinesandbrazilnuts

    clementinesandbrazilnuts New commenter

    Thanks Stilkskin, the problem is actually finding anything on it, I feel like Bilbo Baggins creeping around looking for the Arkenstone. Half the time it’s actually finding the folders I’ve been instructed to share whatever it is in, and whether it’s teams (and where) or onedrive.

    sometimes I miss the days of floppy discs!
  19. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Schools were increasingly using online file storage/sharing platforms (google, onedrive etc.) before the whole corona thing even started. I also found it a bit tricky to begin with, but the (somewhat harsh, I know) reality is, is that teachers these days simply need to learn how to use their school's computer systems. It's part of the job now.
  20. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    OneDrive Search is pretty good but MS Teams doesn't allow you to search for folders only files. I would either ask the person to send you a link to the relevant folder or you can click on "open in sharepoint" which will allow you to search for folders (This is one reason I prefer Google)

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