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fitting in not always easy
Old 01-01-1970, 12:00 AM
 
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I could connect to many aspects of how your life has moved along. I too stayed home for seven years then went to get my masters in teaching. My family and I will finish visiting all of the continental US states this vacation, I've traveled to Europe, and my son goes to a private school. Having said all those things I think that making friends with teachers is very difficult. In my school groups of cliques are strong, and for the first time in almost fifty years I found it hard to make friends. The atmosphere feels like junior high school girls, but I do have friends at school. Mostly they are older adults who have already raised their families. I'll talk with them after school while I listen more in the teacher's room when the queen bees are at lunch. Your personal interests and experiences are just different from theirs and that's OK. Over time you will find adults in the building who share your interests and experience.


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teaching in affluent school
Old 04-07-2006, 06:52 PM
 
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I teach in a very affluent school, which is also the community I live in with my husband and children. This is my first year teaching after 10 years as a stay at home mom. I just can't fit in with the other teachers. I know they perceive me as "rich" because of the profession my husband is in and because he is very well known in our community. I don't think I should have to hide that my husband is very successful. These teachers also seem jealous of the fact I was able to be a stay at home mom for 10 years. One teacher told me that it must be nice to teach as a "hobby" since I don't HAVE to work. Its true that I don't have to work. I'm doing it because I enjoy it, but that doesn't make her a better teacher just cause she does have to work. Some of the teachers make rude comments to me about living in this neighborhood. I know most of the kids cause they are friends with my kids, and I know and am friends with a lot of the moms. I can't help that cause I live in this community. I almost feel guilty for having so much whereas most of these teachers didn't grow up with advantages and don't have husbands that make a lot of money. When discussing our plans for the summer I mentioned how my husband and I plan to go to Europe. I wasn't bragging, but the other teachers were quite rude. I feel like I have to keep my personal life a secret so I don't offend these teachers who don't live in my affluent neighborhood.
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Oh brother...
Old 04-07-2006, 08:40 PM
 
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it just sounds like petty jealousy to me. I stayed home with my kids for 8 years. While we're not rich, we didn't suffer either. I teach because I want to, and my first career doesn't work for an involved mom (recreation/coaching swimming, and my kids don't swim). The other teachers may feel like they don't fit in with the clientel of the school (some affluent parents have a way of making teachers feel like second-class citizens); and resent that you do. Oh well. Just keep your nose to the grindstone. You may have to prove you belong there. Keep your attitude pure and above reproach, and you will win them over in time. Some may never see the light, but that's their problem.
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just keep to yourself
Old 04-08-2006, 08:07 AM
 
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Hi,

I also teach in an affluent district but don't live there. I have been on nice vacations and have some degree of affluence, but I can "hide it". Lots of our teachers have been on nice vacations and have nice lives, so I'm not different. I tend to live a very simple life though, drive a regular sedan and wear clothes from the cheaper department stores.

Here is what I have noted though. Some of the "wealthy" and politically connected teachers make some serious mistakes in their early years and let out some information about the school or other teachers that they shouldn't. When their friends ask them about which teacher to ask for, they actually tell them who to ask for instead of supporting all the teachers. Information that is leaked to the administration is often traced back to them. A few got their jobs because of their country club/political connections, so the majority of the staff resent them and don't trust these teachers.

I manage to stay out of the loop. I don't know much of the inside scoop but I find my life is so much nicer and calmer. I don't know the dirt on every family, nor do I know where they live. I can be nice to everyone because I don't go to church, live near them or socialize with the teachers or the parents in town. Life is a lot simpler that way.

Connie
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Communication is tricky
Old 04-08-2006, 03:23 PM
 
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Wow, just from the tone of your letter I can see how other teachers may feel. I can also understand your position. You are very fortunate not having to "work" for necessities. Count your blessings. I resent people who work because they enjoy it because I feel they're taking away a job from the economy from someone who needs to work to survive. This is offensive to more than half of the population, some who need to work two jobs just to pay rent and feed their kids. Also, in this era of downsizing and outsourcing jobs, most people live in fear that they won't have a job in a year.

Somehow having money distances people from realizing how others just can't "pull themselves up". Your guilt is appropriate so alleviate it and give anonymously to charity (you probably do already so give more) to help you sleep better. Then go and have fun in Europe since half your student population has probably been there and you can use that in the classroom. You'll be helping other economies and spreading goodwill by being a friendly American.

Coming into teaching because you enjoy it is great. I think it makes for a better teacher and classroom. It's the reason I am one. Oh, yeah, I also have to provide for my son who's dad stepped out on him five years ago. Working moms, divorced moms, single moms and unhappily married women all have fodder for resentments. When confronted by a former stay at home mom with a rich hubby, it's a slap in the face. Then throw in Europe, wow! Plus you represent the parents in the community that they have to kowtow to daily. Wow! You need a cross to be nailed to!

People are loaded with resentments and issues. I know I have them, and I'm working on tbem. I don't work in an affluent district, but some teachers and administrators have become affluent because of the salary schedule and talk down about the kids therefore I work through my lunch and basically avoid them because I don't need the negativity. This isn't good for me so I've been analyzing it.

Communication is the problem. People don't really communicate. They one-up, brag, complain, gossip, bash, whine, advise, (like me!) etc. Theoretical conversations at school, ironically, are hard to come by.

I wonder, would you "enjoy" teaching in a lower socio-economic school as much as you do in your affluent one? Do you "enjoy" grading papers for hours at home like I do? You may be on your "honeymoon" in teaching. Saying you enjoy teaching to a teacher who has taught for more than a few years is kind of trite. Do you enjoy the NCLB ramifications on your district? But your parents are probably overly involved with their kids so they are all passing one way or another. What was your real motivation to teach? Maybe that could be the basis of conversation. Were you lonely at home? Be real, be honest. If you open up some vulnerability it will make you more human to others.

There are no easy answers for communication issues. It's taken me five years to find a few teachers I think I trust and can have "real" conversations with. Most teachers are very defensive, and I don't know why. My position is that teaching is so formulaic with curriculum guides, standards, and textbooks that a monkey could educate kids in a year. They'll learn something. I've suffered through and learned from many a lame teacher who didn't put down the teacher's edition once. I try to do things much differently and my creativity is resented.

You cannot stop being yourself. Keep persevering and you'll prove yourself to them eventually. I think the other teachers are harder to work with than the students most days! The kids don't have as much pretense and duplicity.

BTW, I just thought of a charity you can give to, payformymasters.org. I'm setting up the website now! Ciao! Have a safe and fun trip!


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Old 04-08-2006, 04:34 PM
 
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Just for the record can I politely make an observation? Taking a trip to Europe does not automatically mean one is wealthy and has money to throw down. Everytime someone says "Europe" (not on these boards) it has the feeling of some grandiose notion. There are poor to middle class people there too. Some people save and sacrifice other things (like clothes, cigarettes, some entertainment, a new car) so they ARE able to travel to Europe, Asia, Australia, etc. Everyday, normal people can have fun too. Plus having to save money just makes the trip all the more worth it and fun! And yes, I speak from personal experience!
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Managing social stuff at school
Old 04-08-2006, 07:03 PM
 
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I can see your coworkers being jealous, although they should know better than to let it become an issue. I suspect it's not so much you, as working in the community, that's bothering them. I had some jobs (nonteaching) in a very affluent environment, and sometimes it could be a problem for me. If the other teachers feel that the moms in the community look down on them for needing to work, or living someplace less swanky, they may be taking that frustration out on you because you're part of that group as well as the

That said, I don't think you should have to hide your vacation plans, or pretend you hate teaching but are doing it to pay the bills. Be honest, but low-key, be yourself, and I would suggest glossing over unpleasant comments. "Nice for SOME people to go to Europe." "Yes, the kids are excited. Do you have plans for the summer? Oh, that sounds wonderful!"
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I'm the richest person in the world...
Old 04-09-2006, 09:53 AM
 
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Dear wondering,

Do you realize that many people even in our affluent country would be envious of YOU? You have a child, you have a good job with a salary, you have a job that makes a difference, you have the emotional stability to keep it together, you probably have at least one car and probably a home. Being affluent is all relative, isn't it? How would you feel if others criticized you or I for being a professional or having any of the things we have. I am a person who has all the really important things in life and consider myself the richest person in the world because of that perspective.

Then, we can consider how the rest of the world would view you or I. Let's not even go there.
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Old 04-09-2006, 01:01 PM
 
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I have taught with a teacher who had "more" than the other teachers at my school. She spent excessive money on the little extras for her students. Of course, everyone wanted their child in her classroom! It made the rest of us feel like we were somehow lesser teachers.
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miss k is correct in her perception
Old 04-09-2006, 02:51 PM
 
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Hi,

I forgot about that issue. I'm not in a financial position to buy things for my students but the wealthier teachers sometimes do that and it causes a lot of stress amongst staff members for the reason Miss K suggested. So, consider if you do that if you a wealthier person. Also, some of these teachers buy presents on a regular basis for other staff members and many just can't reciprocate. Food gifts that are home made may be appropriate, but nothing else that really costs.

Connie


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Does it matter if we need the money?
Old 04-09-2006, 06:40 PM
 
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I don't see if it matters if you are working because you need the money or not. It matters if you are there teaching because it is meaningful for you. It matters that you are there doing your best to help your students learn and grow. Your personal reasons why aren't important. What is important is what you do and how you do it.
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Old 04-09-2006, 08:13 PM
 
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The tone of your post was a little off-putting and I guess you probably noticed that people took a little umbrage. I hope you got into teaching because you honestly are a teacher to the bone like most good teachers. It doesn't matter if you "have" to work or choose to. You don't have to flaunt your good wealth fortune to those less blessed. If you've given people reason to resent you, I hope you find a way to do damage control. Good luck with that.
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a little to hostile?
Old 04-09-2006, 09:30 PM
 
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I did not get the tone of the original poster as one of bragging about her situation. She's rich--she still teaches--she goes to Europe----get over it! I was insulted as she was that one teacher said it must be nice that teaching is a "hobby" for her. I don't care how rich she is, teaching is not anything like a "hobby". She could work at a much less stressful job if she needed a hobby. Or cross-stich, or tutor, or garden, paint, --anything but teach. I teach in an inner-city "ghetto" school, but would rather that than teach in an affluent school where parents feel like thay own you (honestly this statement in based on stereotypes of affluent teaching jobs that I haven't ever done). Anyways, get off her case. I would love to be rich, and even if I was--I would probably still teach and be very angry if people held that against me. And these days--with priceline, expedia, cheaptickets.com, etc. many people can afford to go to europe. Even poor teachers...Just my two cents... give the woman a break...
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Old 04-10-2006, 06:59 AM
 
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I am with you WOW, that it is no big whoop to brag about a trip to Europe. I am headed there this summer and it's not breaking our bank to do it. I think what makes people think I have it made financially is the fact that I have a cleaning woman! I think of her as just as necessary to my family as an exterminator. With my busy job as a teacher and taking care of two kids with several extra-curricular pursuits, I just gave in to the fact that if I wanted the house thoroughly cleaned I needed a professional.

I bet people think I'm bragging when I mention this situation around my school, but honestly, I think a few of them ought to get a cleaning lady too and finally be able to enjoy time off from work free from housecleaning drudgery.

As for the original poster, maybe you really haven't given your colleagues reason to resent you, but they are just naturally a sour group of people. I often think these negative feelings you get from others are just perceptions you have and not at all intentional from the people around you. Maybe the original poster feels uncomfortable on her own and the others aren't really shunning her. Sometimes new relationships are difficult to forge as adults. It was so easy in college! You only need one or two good friends and not a horde. Maybe next year there will be a new teacher you can befriend who is not already in a clique. As people get used to having you around, they will get to know you as a person and not just "so-and-so's wife" or whatever you think they are labeling you now. Your reputation as a committed teacher will be established over time. If people say nasty things to you about teaching being a hobby, don't jump to the bait. Say as little as possible so there will be very little to repeat. Also when you don't give people back as good as they get, they will feel (rightfully) awkward and out of line for blurting out inappropriate remarks. How dare they in the first place?
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it wasn't the original poster
Old 04-10-2006, 04:35 PM
 
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My comment was meant for the original poster.
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Boundaries
Old 04-14-2006, 11:07 PM
 
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Maybe some of the other teachers are concerned about whether there are clear boundaries between you and the parents. You stated that you're friends with many of the moms. The teachers may be uncomfortable with the prospect of you discussing them,their classrooms, their personal lives, etc. with the moms. At my affluent school, there have been one or two teachers, who also live in the community, who have crossed the line (recommending certain teachers over others, relaying private conversations to parents, making decisions based on keeping friends rather than supporting colleagues). On the other hand, there have been several teachers who cleared the air up front by reassuring the staff that anything they hear at school is confidential. They have stuck to that and have earned respect and trust.

You shouldn't have to keep your personal life a secret. However, as in any situation, you should be sensitive to the fact that others may have very different circumstances. It's a balancing act.
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