Monday, June 1, 2009

It is that time of the year

Several years ago, my school system implemented an anonymous survey for teachers to complete rating their school and their administrator. While it sounds like a great idea, when people are cloaked with the veil of anonymity, they can become rather mean.

I'm all for good advice and suggestions that might help me improve myself and our school.

At my the school I worked in prior to my current school, I would receive comments suggesting that I check on when breakfast really started or that a weekly calendar would help with all the changes in the monthly calendar. There were comments I could use to benefit the teachers in the school.

Four years ago, I was moved to my current school and, at first, I was devastated by the move. I had heard about the morale issues at my new school and questioned if I was truly capable of making a difference. But I had no choice, so I put on my big girl panties I moved to the new school with a good attitude and a determination to make things better.

At this new school, there are a lot of teachers with strong opinions, bad attitudes, and a resistance to anything new. I've seen teachers like this in other schools, however, not to this degree.

Which brings us back to the yearly anonymous surveys. I know I shouldn't take the comments to heart. Maybe I need thicker skin. But to say that I am on a witch hunt is just asinine and besides, I took the stake down from the fire pit. The comments listed were just mean spirited and not at all intended to help make changes for the better. Then again, for some, the changes are what drive them to be so bitter.

Not all the comments were hateful. But the hateful comments were the ones to stand out. They were mean enough to make me cry myself to sleep Friday night.

It makes it hard to keep a great attitude every day. Thank God the teachers are gone until the end of July. And it makes me wonder if I would be better off in the classroom. Or in another field like possibly a fry girl. Right now, I just feel defeated.

Not a lot of thanks for working 10 to 12 hours (or more) a day. Trying to help the teachers. Always asking what is in the best interest of the students.

I wonder how the teachers would do if the parents could complete an anonymous survey on them.


Unknown said...

Oh Beth, I'm so sorry you have some of 'those type' people at your school, but don't allow it to get you down. You know that you're doing your best to make it better for everyone and you also know there are, unfortunately, people that hide behind anonymity. These people spend their days trying to make others miserable because, generally, they're miserable themselves.

Don't you dare let them rule and don't you dare loose your sweet tears over them!

Unknown said...

Big hugs Beth! I have thin skin too. Those types of comments would keep me awake at night too. We are ALL only human and for the most part have good intentions. Whether or not someone agrees with you, is something that is beyond your control. All you can do is keep on keeping on, with your head held high in EVERY decision you make that you think is in the best interests of the KIDS. Screw the parents, they have (or maybe not) their high school diploma. They are not in your care. Trust the decisions you are making are for the best and everything else will just fall into place. No more tears, no more sleepless nights!

I don't envy you. ALL teachers and administrators deserve more pay than what you get based solely on the BS you deal with daily.

Anonymous said...

well i think you have something there- come up with an anonymous survey of your teachers for the parents to complete for teacher growth. I don't envy your position. We are our own worst enemies and I had one boss a long time ago (male) who taught me that to get ahead in the work place, if I was to complain about something to do so with a positive spin (ie providing a suggested solution)...I credit him with how fast I moved up the ladder.

mo.stoneskin said...

On the whole I dislike anonymity. Of course this is coming from a typically anonymous blogger working under some dodgy nickname that masks who I really am. But in terms of feedback I generally dislike it. I suppose there is a place - voting for example - but it can (not always) promote cowardice. On the other hand it can protect the person from discrimination or unfair affronts. So what I'm really saying is blah blah blah. But sound to me like all things considered you're coping very well.

Anonymous said...

In our school, our Director sends out parent surveys that are completed and returned. The results are compiled and the teacher is given the results. Not always fun and it can be humbling.

Our school, although private, has seen huge spending cuts, more pressure on the teachers to perform, no extra pay, sick & vacation days taken away, no supplies and just downright pettiness.And, this is from a school where parents pay $6,000. for Kindergarten.

I'm confident that you're doing an amazing job, and it could be possible that the teachers feel burdened, overworked and unappreciated.(due to cuts, and NOT about you. You gave them a good format to vent.

I'm in line for a Directors job at my school, and it will be a tough road. Thick skin, I don't have.

Hang in there and realize that most times the teachers are venting at you, not about you.

Debbie said...

I am so sorry you are in this situation. Our school occasionally do parent and student surveys. I think it is only fair! Good luck. And try to keep in mind that their behavior was in place long before you got there.

Optimistic Pessimist said...

You're right anonymous people can be nasty. When people are mean I just assume the problem is with them and they're taking it out on whoever they can. It's one thing when useful info is pointed out along with possible solutions, but the fact that people are just mean speaks volumes.

Courtney said...

Well that just sucks! I hope you feel better. Fortunately I know just how great you really are!

Love you, Courtney

only a movie said...

Oh, Beth. I am so sorry they aren't being grownups. You are a better woman than I for taking on the job in the first place. I know I couldn't do it. People have asked if I will go in that direction, and while I'd like some of it - I know I don't have thick enough skin.

Hang in there - thinking of you this week.


*krystyn* said...

That sucks!! Typically though the people who do those surveys are often the ones who have something to complain about - rarely are there positive remarks on surveys etc.

You should initiate a parent-teacher survey next school year. LOL!!

followthatdog said...

Is it possible for the survey to be modified to include a "Do you have a proposal to solve this problem?" after each field for comments. That kind of shit just pisses me off. I'm sorry you have to deal with it. What does the district expect you to do with the information? Maybe you can have a teacher work day to help "brainstorm" solutions to the bitchy comments. Let them stew in a conference room for a day or two, maybe they'll rethink the shit next year. If not, try two work days and include some kind of required skits or roleplaying.

Jan said...

Jesus - some people.

I like your idea about an anonymous survey of the teachers by the parents, but since I'm assuming that's out of the question, is it possible to have a meeting when the teachers get back in which you read some of the nasty things and ask your staff, calmly and sincerely, how they are supposed to be helpful? You never know - something positive could come out that.

Reinvent Dad said...

I wholeheartedly agree that anonymous surveys often do more harm than good (to the person being surveyed). I'm sorry you have to deal with so many whiners and complainers who unfortunately appear to be breeding at a much faster clip than rational level-headed human beings that can cite constructively and objectively paths to improve the well being of the students and procedures at your school.

I agree with other comments that this annual survey is not helping and you should perhaps meet with each teacher one on one at the end of the year (maybe you already do this) to discuss brass tacks, not BS. Maybe you could slowly eliminate those with a bad attitude! We have so many teachers (mostly young) here in California that would love an opportunity to teach, but get pushed aside by layoffs due to seniority.

Oh boy, ask my wife about surveys...hates 'em because the ones that take the "time" to fill them out generally have too much "time" on their hands...don't get me started.

I hope you work everything out.

Michel said...

okay, so everyone hogged all the good advice (which I totally would have thought me) but I would just like to say that THOSE PEOPLE SUCK!

You obviously love your job and are doing your best. AND, everyone knows you never give a complaint unless you can be part of the solution or at least offer to help figure it out. That's rude, immature and ridiculous.

Do you want me to come give them a lecture. I'm seriously good at bitchy-mcshameing speeches

sun lover said...

The hateful ones always do stick out don't they? It makes me sad to hear you feel defeated. What a horrible way to start the summer off...Stay strong for we in blogland know that you work your ass off to provide only the best for all the teachers and students. I believe you are amazing and filled with nothing but the best intentions for your school.

Even those with the thickest of skin gets burned ever so often. The pain stings and often knocks the breathe out of you, but as the days pass so does the hurt. Have that hubby whip up something filled with nothing but high calories and love to drown your sorrow away!

In the mean time...stay strong and chin up...and know that you are appreciated. :)

Anonymous said...

I really believe with criticism a few positives solutions should be added to the mix. Sometimes it seems negative, critical people feed like minded people and they find good bed fellows among one another! How draining to have to be there. I feel bad for the students even more. Can't imagine the joy of being in a class there.

Hang in there! I am so sorry to hear you cried yourself to sleep! Don't let them ruin who you are with what they have become.

Kristina P. said...

Beth, I can relate to this post more than you know!

I posted about moving to a new office today. What I didn't say is that I've been asked to go into a shift that has been notoriously negative and gossipy, and basically fix it and turn it around.

There's already a rumor going around that I am so mad about going up there and I hate it. Which just isn't true. I'm sad, and would rather stay where I am, but I have a positive attitude, and it will be a good opportunity.

I've learned there are some nasty, mean, negative people out there, and they have to make everyone else miserable.

Rosaria Williams said...

The problem is with the survey. People ought to evaluate the operations they are responsible for to identify ways to do the job better. It's easy to point fingers to someone else

Brenda Susan said...

So sorry, not a fun way to end a loooong year! This may sound like a head-in-the-sand approach, but is there any way you can NOT read them? Or have someone else cull the usefull ones out for you before hand?

Beth said...

Jane - You are right! People choose to be miserable and there is nothing I can do about that. It just hurts when the teachers are so mean.

dizzblnd - Actually, this survey was just from the teachers. The parents rarely right mean comments.

Mrs. K - If only I could have the parents fill out an anonymous survey about specific teachers. But then again, I really wouldn't want them to be hurt.

Mo - I am coping! And today was a great day. They can't get me down for long (the mean little shits).

Lisa - Wow! $6000 for Kindergarten? I'll bet you have some high maintenance parents!

Debbie - I don't take issue with surveys. We've gotten valuable information from parents and teachers. This particular survey was just for the teachers and there were a few who were just more or less name calling (you should read what they wrote about the superintendent). Suggestions are useful. Name calling is just mean.

Beth said...

marathoner81 - I do wish they had suggestions. I'd love some fresh ideas!

Courtney - I love you, too!

Erin - I question the thickness of my skin some days. Today was better. I have a better outlook. Thanks for your support.

remember moments - You are right! Being angry can inspire all kinds of letter writing and survey filling out campaigns.

followthatdog - I LOVE that suggestion to have a suggestion! Great idea. I'm going to give that thought to the powers that be.

Jan - I'll give the comments to the Leadership Team when we meet in July. They can take care of making suggestions from there.

Reinvent Dad - The teachers who stir up the most trouble in my school (with the pack mentality) would be better off if they would just get in their freakin room and teach. This is where I am going to have to get tougher.

Michel - I'd love to have you as a guest speaker with a mcshame speech. That would be awesome! Can I pay you in Little Debbie?

sun lover - You are right! And thanks for your encouragement. I feel better already!

The things we carried - I love your last line - "Don't let them ruin who you are with what they have become." I'm going to write that in my calendar as a reminder to chin up.

Beth said...

Kristina - I'm going to go read your post. Sometimes it feels like we punish the people with the best attitudes. In my world, the good teachers with great attitudes get the worst kids because the kids need someone to build them up. The positive teacher is punished because of her great attitude. I'm pulling for you in your big move! I know you'll be great. And my attitude would totally improve with you on the scene.

lakeviewer - I couldn't have said it better. You should hear the things some wrote about the Superintendent. They were just awful!

Brenda Susan - Your idea is probably a good one. I wish they would only give us the comments that are suggestions and not just insults.

Deb said...

Anonymity does seem to give license for people to be mean. I think anyone would be unhappy to read mean spirited things about them. Are you able to tell who wrote what at all?

H.K. said...

I think for the first teacher meeting that you have in the new year, you should bring that up about parents filling out a survey on the teachers, just so you can look at their reaction. Come to think of it, you should do one!

Mike said...

WTF is a survey being done like this for? This is the second time that I have actually been pissed, not at you, but for you! These are co-workers, aren't they? If you did this in my job, there would probably be bloodshed! I would not even participate in that shit! An open forum to trash people, F That!!!! Sounds like it's time to look for a new school,SCUMBAGS!!!!

Carma Sez said...

Anonymity isn't always a good thing. My husband and I were talking yesterday about how it brings out the worst in some people- Sorry to hear this...Hope this is a better week...thanks again for voting...

Hit 40 said...

I never say anything bad on these surveys. I figure the admin would know who it was?? And... I agree if I am that upset about something - I should be women enough to say it to your face. AND - TRY TO FIX IT WITH YOU!!!

Take it all with a grain of salt. Keep your head up and smile. Folks like to be cranky. Too much Jerry Springer - not enough Mr. Rogers on tv.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Commenting at the office while on hold (ignore) so I didn't read the above comments, hope I'm not repeating.....

You are a brave woman to even ask for the comments. Just remember that many (too many) people only feel better if they running someone else down. You do a great job and do it with your whole heart. How can anyone complain about that! Screw 'em! :-)

Chris said...

Hi Beth,

Am I ever glad that I found your blog (via your comment on Funny Girl, I think). I'm guessing from your post here that you're a school principal or A.P. I'm an elementary principal myself, so it's nice to come across a colleague here in blogland.

If you get a chance, pop by my place. Lots of tales from the classroom and school site.

Take care,

Chris said...

Oh, and specifically in regard to this post, our district does the "anonymous survey" thing too. I treat it like the Olympic gymnastic judging. I disregard the top three and bottom three surveys. This eliminates the brown-nosers and the constant complainers. Then you're left with the ones who are truly trying to be constructive.

Mara said...

My mom has been a principal for three years at an elementary school where she taught for 20 years. She was devastated when all the teachers, who she considered friends, turned on her. Administration is hard enough without unnecessarily nasty notes from staff. What these teachers wrote was cruel and unprofessional.

Dee-Zigns Handcrafted Jewelry said...

People can be such cowards! I wouldn't want one of those mean spirited, bitter teachers teaching my kids. I agree with Hit40, keep your head held high and keep smiling. These people are wallowing in angry, don't let them bring you down! You rock!