What’s that sharp pain in my back? Part 1

June 8, 2006 at 7:22 am (Teaching)

Warning: This is a long-winded post-series complaining about work-related drama. Names have been changed, so that this doesn’t come and bite me in the ass some day. For those of you who don’t care to read that type of thing, I express my apologies, and in return for the hassle, check out this really good coupon for Joann’s.

Life has been good at work this year, for the most part. Because of my lack of complete certification according to “No Child Left Behind”, I have two supervising teachers. One for the 5th & 6th graders, and one for the 7th & 8th graders. I have had many difficulties with the 7th & 8th grade supervising teacher for years, so I was thrilled when I got on so well with the newly hired 5th & 6th grade supervising teacher. This, along with the fact that my two closest friends at work were on the same floor as me, we were one big happy work-family – me, “Julia” my supervising teacher, “Kiki”, the 5th math teacher, and “Noelle”, the 5th science teacher.

Then, it dropped. Out of the blue, I get a phone call from Noelle. She prefaced the call by telling me that I couldn’t let others know that she was the one sharing this information with me, but Noelle wanted to let me know that something was going on that shedidn’t agree with.

What she shared with me was that “someone” that I work with was going around to teachers, and telling them they needed to document all that I did: when I was in class, when I wasn’t, when I was late, who I worked with, what I did with them, etc. And that this information was going to be used to get me into trouble.

When I got off the phone with this person, my immediate thought was that I needed to get a hold of Julia, for two reasons: maybe she was also being monitored like I was, and maybe she was aware of what was going on, and she could give me more information. I thought that if Julia did know what was going on, that she had not told me sooner because she wanted to “protect me” in some way, and not have the stresses that would be associated with having my movements monitored all throughout the day.

After the initial shock, my emotions turned to fear. In the past, information gathering like this had been used as a way of being able to comfortably refuse to renew a teacher’s contract. I tried to connect my job performance with what this former teacher’s job performance was, and I couldn’t see any connection. Even though I had no idea why, I assumed that this would be my last year at my school, and that I was in the process of losing my job.

The next day, my supervisor, “Donna”, was at a conference. I went through the day, miserable. The only consolidation I had was a very well-timed “Thank you for being a good teacher” letter from one of my students. I decided that if my actions were being watched over, I would make it easier for whoever was keeping track of me, by providing an extremely detailed account of my daily goings on. I sent this in an email to Donna, Julia, and my 7th and 8th teacher, since I assumed that at least Donna knew that this was going on.

The next day when I got an email from Donna telling me that it was not necessary at all to provide this information, I was shocked. I assumed all along that an “investigation” like this would need her okay before beginning. Although I was hurt that Donna didn’t come to me first, I now realized that she had nothing to do with what I was told in that phone call.

I began explaining the whole story to Donna, and she asked me if I could find out the name of the person who directed the teachers to do this monitoring. I went back to Noelle, and she gave me more details.

Julia had directed other teachers to monitor me. She specifically told these teachers not to let my caller know, since they would in turn tell me. Noelle had never spoken with Julia directly.

Absolutely shocked, I emailed this information to Donna, including that I had absolutely no clue that this was going on. Julia had never said anything at all to me about her concerns, and never changed her demeanor towards me. Donna ended the conversation Friday by giving me the optimistic side of things – maybe Julia was trying to defend me in some way. Since this was in line to what I had been thinking that Wednesday, I took that to heart. I decided I would wait the weekend to think things over, and talk to Julia one-to-one on Monday morning.

Friday night, I went out with Kiki and Noelle. The conversation started off with, “Do we want to talk this over?” and I knew immediately that there was more to the story. I shared the conversation I had with Donna, and the two were shocked to learn that she did not have any involvement with this monitoring. The impression was given to them that this was given the OK by the administration.

More was added to the details of the day that they were asked to monitor me. Julia came into Kiki’s room while she and Noelle’s paraprofessional were in the room. In a very hurried, flustered, and concerned manner, Julia instructed them that they needed to monitor me daily, and send emails to her every day. Kiki needed to monitor me in her classroom, and the paraprofessional needed to monitor me in Noelle’s classroom (but were specifically told not tell Noelle what was going on).

Julia told them that one of the reasons that I needed to be monitored was that there was a parent pressing charges against me, and I was in the process of being arrested. Eager for details, Kiki asked who was pressing charges, and what were the nature of the charges. Julia did not give those details, saying that it was very confidential. Julia told then that she did not want my actions effecting her certification. “My ass is on the line” were the words she used.

I learned that in the next few days, Julia emailed these staff members reminding them to report back to her daily. Instructing them to make sure that they had written down that I was not servicing students the day of a field trip, and document a day that was I absent from work.

I was also told that one day, while one of my inclusion students was in Julia’s pull-out classroom during a period that I had him in the inclusion classroom, Julia emailed the inclusion teacher (Kiki). She complained that I was in her pull-out room (with my student), and not in the inclusion classroom. The teacher commented that if Julia wanted me in the inclusion classroom (without my inclusion student) that she should tell me. Julia declined, and never mentioned anything to me at all.

None of the teachers have any idea why Julia had taken it upon herself do instruct them to monitor me, let along create false reasoning to do so. Julia never told me that going on the field trip would be an issue; in fact she “fought” for the both of us to be able to be chaperones on this trip.

Julia had never said anything to me, either in person, or in emails about anything mentioned above. Up until Friday night, I had no idea that she was the one creating these issues.

I was not aware of any parent with any complaint against me, let alone pressing charges against me. If this were the case, I would assume that administration would have contacted me right away, and not wait a week until letting me know that this was happening.

I am not aware if she has instructed any other teacher that I work with to monitor me, or told any other staff members that I am in the process of being arrested.

To be continued in Part 2

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1 Comment

  1. Wendy said,

    Okay, I am dying here for part 2…

    I have had drama in the work place, but nothing like this.

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