I'm a regular poster and a substitute. Signed out because I have used PT at the school in question many times so some teachers may recognize my name. Ok, here we go.
I am a sub teacher, and recently started a long term assignment. I will be at this school for many months. I have subbed at this school many times. There is one teacher who I have to talk to on a regular basis. Many students have mentioned how terrible this teacher's breath is, and even some teachers have mentioned this to me. I am not one to listen to gossip, so whatever. But today...this teacher came into my room to speak with me and her breath nearly knocked me out! It was TERRIBLE. It actually stung my eyes. It was one of the most odorous things I have ever smelled. She was in my room for just a few minutes, but it felt like a long, long, long time. Her breath smelled like she never brushed/flossed her teeth, and also like there is something internally wrong with her...there was a gassy, rotting aroma. It was all I could do not clasp a hand to my nose. After she left the stench hung in the air...I keep body spray in my bag and I wanted to spray it around but I had kids in the room and I didn't want them to say "See we told you she has death breath!"
My goodness, what do I do?? She is a nice woman, but I was almost...offended by how disgusting her breath was. She has to know! Her mouth has to taste bad all the time so there is no way she doesn't know how bad it smells. Should I offer her gum? Should I say anything to her at all? I think it's mean that all the teachers and kids know and talk about her behind her back, but is it my place to say anything??
I was so excited about this assignment, but the thought of having to talk with this teacher makes me want to cry.
Have you considered that she may have a medical condition? Some prescription drugs have this side effect. If it is that bad, maybe you could show her a little compassion and concern and say something in atactful manner. I would appreciate a direct approach if I were in her shoes. Just a thought.
I don't think I'd have the nerve to speak to her about it to her face. Maybe you could mail an anonymous letter to her home. (I'd hate to put it in her mailbox at school and have her read it and become upset...) I'd make it very, very nice and express concern. Maybe she doesn't realize how bad it is and doesn't know that breath like that could mean liver or other problems. Maybe you could include an article or two about it... I don't know. This is such a tough situation to deal with. I know I'd be mortified if another adult told me I had bad breath. I'd really try not to talk about her behind her back with adults or kids. Maybe the school nurse could say something?? Just a thought.
I agree with patch41.... prevail upon the school nurse. As a sub or fellow teacher this situation is extremely sensitive. You can't tell her, but it's so sad seeing everyone talk behind her back. Plus it is definitely a health issue.... either dental or digestive.... and she needs help. We once had a custodian who was the nicest guy! He had the WORST body odor. He would come in and clean a room, but leave it smelling horrible for hours after he left. The principal finally had to step up to the plate and talk to him. I'm sure your principal doesn't want to deal with this situation, but someone (not you!) needs to help this lady!
She knows. You know she knows. Why make her feel worse?
I've only had it happen once, and it was a coworker 25 years ago. I still remember and wish she hadn't said anything. Having spent countless hours trying to solve the problem, it was NOT helpful having her mention it.
Going to the nurse would be my first stop, but then I hope I would have the courage and kindness to tell her to her face. If you let her know you are concerned about her health (maybe look up conditions that lead to horrendous breath?) This is a tough situation to be in. Good luck to both of you.
I wouldn't know how to talk to her directly either, and an anonymous note in her mailbox would feel to me like we were all back in junior high. But if you really fear it's a medical condition, I would talk to the school nurse. Maybe she has an idea of how to talk to her. If she says she's "aware but can't discuss", it's probably a side effect of something the teacher doesn't want to share. I guess keep peppermints on your desk, and be generous with them.
with someone like this. I don't think anyone ever said anything to her though. I remember I once tried to bring up dental care when we were all in a grade level meeting. I thought maybe she'd get a clue. I talked about how I had a dental appt. that day for cleaning and how I loved getting my teeth cleaned because they felt so good afterward. It didn't work. She claimed she never went and was afraid of dentists due to 'a bad experience.' So, we all just had to endure her bad breath, orange crusty plaque, and superior attitude. Just sickening and terrible!
We have a male teacher at my school like that, but someone must have told him b/c this year things are better.
Yours sounds WAY worse. ew ew ew! I would not say anything unless you develop a relationship with her. I would however buy some air fresheners to have handy to spray. I would also position yourself behind your desk or doing things around the room whenever she comes to talk if possible (straightening the already straight desks comes to mind), etc.
Only if she asks would I say anything. I know bad breath can be a mouth issue or indicator of other medical condition. Whenever my son would get strep throat his breath would smell like sour oranges. All I had to do was smell it to know.
She doesn't seem to be embarrassed by it. She gets right in your face when she talks to you. I had to sit next to her today at a meeting and she leaned over a few times to say something to me even though she was sitting right next to me. I about died. Again, the smell stung my eyes. I had to keep wiping them and a few teachers laughingly after the meeting asked me why my eyes were red.
I guess I won't say anything to her. But it makes me almost dislike her. I'm having a hard time separating the person from that extreme stench.
During the staff meeting (which I had to attend due to being in a long-term position) the principal mentioned that he expects staff to be cordial to one another. If I say something to her about her breath that may be construed as a personal attack or something.
Does she have a significant other? If she does, then she knows.
Honestly, I wouldn't bring it up to her. But is there another staff member you trust who you could talk to in a non-gossipy way? You could say something along the lines of you noticed and wanted to make sure you weren't the only one, and ask (sweetly) if its been discussed. My guess is either a) there's a medical condition, people are aware, and it just is what it is, or b) its never been discussed and people gossip about her. Either way, I wouldn't discuss it again. Do your best to smile, discreetly hold your breath, and try to move around "working on things" when you two talk.
I'd just make sure I stood back enough so that I'm not smelling it so much. If she comes closer, back away slowly so that it is subtle. If she asks why you have moved away (and she may not), ask her if she ate onions. Tell her that you have a sensitivity to certain foods. That makes it reflect upon you instead of her.
I know there are people out there who are very sensitive to smells. What people eat can give their body a certain odor. I actually had a teacher ask me once if I had eaten at Taco Bell. No, was my response. Perhaps I had eaten onions the night before for dinner. I know that fish oil and garlic are good for you, but I don't want to smell like that, so I won't take them.