Thursday, August 20, 2009

Build a bridge and get over it

Something you may or may not know about me is that I am a people pleaser. I despise controversy and will work hard to keep the peace.

This past spring, some anonymous teachers at my school almost made me want to dig ditches for a living really hurt my feelings. They are apparently at it again. Another teacher on my faculty came to me yesterday afternoon upset about something going on. It seems that a group of teachers who play bridge together are secretly meeting with a school board member to complain.

What a kick in the bleeping gut! I thought this year had started off so smoothly.

I asked the informant teacher what they might be complaining about and she had no idea. She had gotten the feeling they thought I was asking them to do too much.

I am only asking them to do their job. Teach the curriculum to their students. Be kind to their students and guide them to become better people.

Work is a funny thing. I've never worked in a place where everyone was happy. While I know that each person is responsible for their own happiness, I never realized how cutting mean comments can be.

You need to have thicker skin. Really? Is that a marketable skill? I've never seen it on a resume.

It comes down to this. Hurtful comments are, well, hurtful. They hurt just as they were intended. I fear if I become immune to the negativity, I could also become immune to the needs of others.

This past summer, I attended a conference where I almost died in running in a lightning storm that suggested each school mentally split their schools into thirds. The first third would be the excited, positive, supportive teachers who will do whatever it takes to help their students succeed. The bottom third are the complainers and the rebels who insist on doing it their way despite the curriculum changes because the earth might tilt on it's axis if someone didn't get to teach the butterfly life cycle even if it is no longer a standard for that grade level or die doing it. The middle third are middle of the road teachers who could be swayed to either the top or bottom third. The speaker gave us a few minutes to rank our teachers.

My assistant principal and I could not figure out who was in the bottom third.

But now I have a feeling the bottom third is a bridge playing group. Maybe I should take up cards and beat them at their own game.

36 comments:

Fidgeting Gidget said...

That is so hurtful, because I know that you're doing the best you can to please everyone (I'm a people pleaser, too)...but I'm beginning to learn, like you, that it's basically impossible to make everyone happy. I think some people complain just for the sake of complaining. Just remember this--karma's a bitch. They'll get what's coming to them. Sounds to me like they're burning bridges, not building them, and that's never a good thing. Keep your chin up!

Beth said...

Fidgeting Gidget - Oh, you are right! I do believe in karma. And for the record, this faculty did the same thing to the previous principal. She ended up retiring as a defeated educator. I worked for her for a year and I can assure you, she was not what some of the teachers portrayed her to be.

Brian Miller said...

cowards..sorry...i get a little steamed at people that cant shoot straight and go around complaining behind your back. you wont please everyone...but they are not on your team so i suggest extermination of the rats...

lisa said...

You can be sure that their negativity is portrayed to their students, as well.

And to complain and meet behind your back is childish and disrespectful. Glad you at least got a heads up.

Gaston Studio said...

I'm so sorry you've been hurt by a group of unknown cowards; yes, I agree with Brian on this part because it seems to me people like this are NEVER honest enough to confront the person they have a problem with which is why they're looking for others to back them up. Perhaps they're not even sure that what they "feel" is correct so seek out validation.

If it were me, I'd go to the Board and head them off at the pass so to speak. You may not like confrontation Beth, but you have to protect yourself... and there will always be cowards out there!

What a way to start off the new school year.

xoxo

The Peach Tart said...

So sorry to hear about these b*tches. I agree about them being cowards. To me if you have what you think is a valid complaint, then have the balls to come directly to the person you have the complaint about. It's like people who write mean hurtful comments on your blog as anonymous. No guts.

TechnoBabe said...

You have to hope that the members of the board have enough insight to see these complainers for what they are: Imbiciles. And the first question to them should be did they speak to you about their complaints. And the next question has to be why do they have to run in a pack? Too many questions here.

only a movie said...

They're just not liking the message - that they should step up their game. It's not you they're trying to hurt. They don't want to be reminded that they're lacking in some quality - so rather than improve or evolve - they will complain. I know it is hurtful, but it is more their problem than yours.

Also? Why are these damn people in education?? Don't they know that they're toying with CHILDREN'S LIVES?

oops. sorry. getting off soapbox now.

K13 said...

Ugh! I'm so sorry you are having to deal with all this crap. They sound like a miserable bunch of Lulu's and probably find ANYTHING to complain about, just so they can complain!!

It's impossible to make everyone happy!!

Vodka Mom said...

the terrible truth is this- it's the "crazy" people with low self esteem that speak the loudest and complain.

Most of us are aware of these truths- we are ALL human, and we area all trying our best. We make mistakes, pick ourselves up and LEARN from them.


and there is no tattle tale-ing. NONE.

sun lover said...

I am not a people pleaser and often feel sorry for them because I think they spend to much time and effort trying to make angry, mean people happy. Angry, mean people are just that angry and mean and generally can never be made happy. That being said, I feel that in your job people pleasing is probably a necessity for many reasons.

I agree with you about the thick skin...if yours gets much thicker you would become immune and your sensitivities are what make you so great at your job.

Karma Beth, Karma it'll bite them sooner or later! :)

beth said...

maybe it's the name, because, i too, am a people pleaser who HATES confrontation. i hope everything works out well for you. good luck!

Jan said...

You'd think that, as their boss, they'd realize they may eventually need something from you - a good reference, perhaps? Alienating someone you may need to depend on at some point does not speak well for their intelligence, to say nothing of their sense of self-preservation.

What I find disturbing is that these people are in charge of teaching young children.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Oh, I am so sorry Beth. If you combined Movie's and Vodka's comments, that is exactly what I wnated to say.

lakeviewer said...

Hey Beth, it goes with the territory. Review complaint procedures with everyone, on a regular basis. Then, talk to your superintendent about your boar members.
I'm the board president. Our members know that if people want to complain they have to go through channels, not through us. We are not managers, but policy makers. If there is no policy on complaint procedures, there should be one. Your members may not know the process. It is your superintendent who needs to remind them.

Kristina P. said...

Seriously, I don't know how you stay alive, let alone have a positive attitude about things.

followthatdog said...

What a bunch of bitches. I'm sorry, instead of taking their comments and concerns to you, they're jumping up the chain. It is childish and wrong. I hope you can put it behind you. They are not your top tier teachers. They are doing nothing but making themselves miserable, don't let them draw you into it.
But maybe you could get the kids to TP their houses or something. Sigh.

Nancy said...

Beth -- this reminds me of the time my college advisor said I wasted all the years of studying political science when I became an educator, and I had to tell him that it was the most useful training of all...more politics in education than in politics! Hang in there. The universe is mindful about what your bottom third is doing, and what goes around comes around even if we don't always get to see it happen.

Beth said...

Thanks for all the positive comments! There IS more political action in education than anywhere. I feel better today.

I spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon at our monthly administrative meeting. Then I had to run back to the school for a leadership team meeting. I decided to add something to the agenda about the proper chain of command. At least they'll know (as if they didn't know).

I've already talked to the assistant superintendent and she is ready for a certain board member to come by to visit. It felt great to have their support. In fact, she said I have the most challenging faculty of anyone in the system. Well, thanks for that.

Again, thanks for all your uplifting comments.

Otin said...

Beth, it is a fact of life that you cannot be friends with people who you are in charge of. People do not like to be told what they need to do or how they should do something and lose sight of the fact that they have rules to follow. If you are in charge, just be the boss and pick friends outside of your work environment. If they do not like the way that you want things done, then they should run their own school. I so wish that I could work alone, I hate dealing with people. It is not just your job! And NO CATERING for those assholes this year!!!!!

Beth said...

Otin - My friends are definitely outside of the school house walls! About the catering - it might be a cold day in you know where before my husband will volunteer all his time and resources. Oh, well. Dealing with sneaky people is exhausting. I just wish I knew what they were all up in arms about. I truly have no idea.

Jules said...

I can TOTALLY tell you who the bottom third is at my school! ESPECIALLY now that the new principal is changing things up. But instead of cards, they play Bunco. ;)

Hang in there.

smiles4u said...

As a fellow people pleaser and someone that doesn't like sneaky mean people, my heart goes out to you. It really sucks that your year is starting like this. I do think that you do the great job that you do, because of the caring person that you are. While I do think, we have to try to be thick skinned to some extent, reality is, we are human beings with human emotions. I don't care who you are, if people act shitty whether they are being sneaky about it or out right mean, it hurts. It seems where ever people are, there will be complainers among them....ugh!

Deb said...

Hi Beth ~ As a former educator I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up as I read this. Sometimes tenure isn't a good thing, just my opinion. I have a feeling you are lots smarter, wiser and much more clever than these bridge playing tarts. Just stay one step ahead of them - and beat them at their own game!

Hit 40 said...

I would try my best to take the high road. Leave an individual note in each of their teacher mailboxes that you need to meet. Ask how their school year was going, can you do anything to help them, or do they have any suggestions for improvement. Do not mention what the other teacher said about the bridge game.

Try to be out in the halls in the mornings. If anything, it is fun to catch the late straggles to work. (Ask if they got stuck in traffic and smile. They will get the point.)Greet them as they arrive to work. Make small talk about their children or pets.

It's hard to win a fight that does not exist. I totally feel and understand the garbage your going through. I have 11 more years until retirement.

Michel said...

I never EVER thought I would utter these words, but what your school board needs is a chain of command. You should not be allowed to bitch, backstab and complain, unless you have done so to the person's face first...

Honestly, they're cowards. I would seriously call them on it. Ask them what they would do to alleviate their issues but still get the work done.

This is why I hate most people.

PS I mock their bridge club. that's sooo 1930s.

Hit 40 said...

Michel is so right! They should just speak to you. If I am upset about something at work, I go say my peace to the principal. Not talk about it all day behind their back.

Chris@Maugeritaville said...

If you haven't already read it, pick up Todd Whitaker's "Dealing With Difficult Teachers". It's fantastic.

While it's frustrating, you have to pretty much disregard what your "bottom third" are saying about you. They're always going to complain about something, and if it's your worst teachers that are unhappy, you're doing something right.

If it were your best teachers, that's a problem. But don't tailor your management style to the lowest common denominator.

carma said...

I admire anyone with the cajones to take on a principal position in the first place!! Between parents and teachers and administrators...the complaints and whining have got to be ENDLESS.

I agree. Take up bridge and don't let them in on it and then maybe you can win some bucks, which shows you how little I know about bridge. Is it like Poker where you can win some bucks??? I hope so. That would be a good revenge tactic.

sherri said...

uggh! I have the thinnest skin known to man so I feel for you. And Bridge is such a totally lame game that only assholes play.

sherri said...

p.s. chin up high, they are the douchebags, not you.

anymommy said...

I hope you do beat them at their own game. I'm really sorry they hurt you.

Chief said...

Oh, this hits me too close to home to not comment. I am the "complaint department" at my school and I am constantly amazed at what the staff complains about. Isn't it about the kids? i don't know how I became the complaint department. I don't get paid any extra for it!

Good luck and I will be following your progress.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

I can't believe these "bridge players" would go to the school board before addressing you directly with their concerns/complaints. Yella bellied cowards, fer shure. Chin up, Beth. We know you're doing a great job!

kristi said...

Gaaahhh....don't you hate people like that? I am not afraid to go directly to the person who I have a beef with. I find it is better resolved that way!

Crazy Charm said...

The fact that you are hurt by their mean spirited comments shows that you care, which I think is a good thing! Also I think it's pretty disrespectful to go over your principals head like that. How rude :(