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niceday7 niceday7 is offline
 
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"Mean" school secretaries
Old 12-19-2019, 05:15 PM
 
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I sub for 3 districts and each has a number of schools.

Today I subbed at a school and the school secretary was "mean". I don't know her, we have no history together.

She was condescending and talking down to me, kind of harshly. Speaking to me in a tone of voice that clearly sent the message "you are not appreciated".

I had gotten a call by the sub service to report to the school at 12pm noon to sub for an afternoon assignment. I accepted it. Shortly thereafter the school itself called and I was told in no uncertain terms "You have to be here by 11am. We made a mistake".

I was speaking to a secretary who had called..who was kind of rough in her tone, and I said that I was not sure if I could make it by 11am. That the reason I had accepted the job that said noon was because of obligations I had. Without even saying why she said "hold on" and put me through to who I later found out was the 'executive secretary' of the school who just about read me the riot act. I told her the sub service had told me the job started at noon which was why I accepted it. And that I realized the school now needed me at 11am but I was not sure if I could make it. So the woman said with a superior sounding tone of voice "Well I am cancelling this assignment then". I told her that I hated to see her go without a sub and she said "We do very nicely if we don't have a sub". In other words, don't think being a sub is so important because we have been without subs before and we do just fine.

My feelings were really hurt. I did not know why I was kind of being "bullied" by the tone of voice. I told the woman that I would cancel my other plans and put the school first and I would report there at 11am. Which I did. But I was really feeling unwanted and by that I mean my services as as sub were not truly wanted. That's no way to start a day.

How do people deal with secretaries that seem like they are out of central casting for the movie "mean girls"?


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Old 12-19-2019, 07:07 PM
 
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Vote with your feet. It isn't worth it. It's one of the few perks we have as subs.
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Old 12-19-2019, 11:02 PM
 
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I would've been willing to be flexible until they took that tone, then I would've told them to just cancel it and gone on with my day tbh. With how pay works in my district, a noon job would've been half pay at best anyway, so to hell with it. If that school does well without subs, then why'd they even put in a request for a half day in the first place? I call bs, secretary was probably bluffing.

Gonna echo what previous poster said though; vote with your feet. Don't put up with that nonsense.


And for what it's worth, the secretaries I've met have always been nice. I try to be really nice to them in turn, because I know how easily they could make my life hell, lmao. I give them thank you cards and stuff all the time.
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Old 12-20-2019, 05:42 AM
 
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Just imagine how they would treat you if you actually subbed there. Id avoid that school.
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Old 12-20-2019, 06:06 AM
 
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I agree with what everyone has said, but want to say something maybe in the secretaries defense.

Yesterday was the next to the last day before break for most. You can't imagine the zoo that has been going on in our main office. Parents for parties. Parents for presentations. Parents who forgot to send in their treats and have to not only drop it off, but make sure it gets in a refrigerator until party time. Our front office people have been dealing with a million people and it is a madhouse.

I would give it a break unless you have had previous experiences. It may not be that they were intending to be gruff or mean, but maybe they have been run ragged. No excuse, of course, but we are all human.

I hope all you subs have a great break and the rest of the school year treats you nice. I wish you were all treated as well as we try to treat our subs. We do value you. You are very important to us. I wish we had more of a say in how subs are treated by payroll and HR and whatever sub services they have to use.


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Old 12-20-2019, 06:08 AM
 
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We had a secretary who sounds just like the one you encountered. She was sharp with not only subs but students and staff. I have a feeling the secretary you encountered makes everyone she encounters feels subservient and unwanted. I bet the whole school is under her dark cloud. I'm sorry she darkened your day but keep in mind she most likely treats others the same way.

When this secretary left out school we gather in our rooms and sang "Ding Dong The Witch is Gone!" Her replacement was delightful and changed our school for the better.

Are you able to avoid this school in the future? Surely they have difficulty getting subs and can be left to resolve the errors of their ways on their own. Subs are essential, despite what this rude secretary said. Without a doubt, you were treated poorly. I hope you can find plenty of work at schools where you are appreciated.
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Old 12-21-2019, 06:16 AM
 
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Most of the secretaries I've met have been very nice, but there have been a few . . .
I agree with the others, and also suggest staying away from that school.

Renea, your story reminded me of a secretary I once worked with back in the 80s when I was a regular teacher. She was rather unpleasant when I arrived at her school, although she warmed up slightly over the years.

Many years later, long after she had retired, I was at an out-of-school event with other staff members who had once worked there. She was with her husband (I had never met him), but she did say hello. After introducing her to my wife, it was her turn, and that's when things got a little strange. In these informal times, when speaking to other adults, most people will say, "I'd like you to meet my husband Fred," or "I'd like to introduce my wife Jane." The retired secretary looked slightly uncomfortable, and continued, "This is my husband [slight pause here] Mr. ________." Mr. _________ was polite, but he made no effort to tell us his name.
My wife and I laughed about that one for a long time!
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I feel for you.
Old 12-21-2019, 09:09 AM
 
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I've been there myself, so I understand how awful it feels to be treated badly, especially when you're doing your best to make yourself available for work.

Most of the school secretaries I've worked with have been great. They are the first ones to greet me with a smile in the morning and usually the only ones who ask me how my day went just before I leave. Sometimes they're the only adults I speak with all day, and we exchange a little chit chat. It means a lot when they are friendly and understanding. Most are.

But as subs, we rely heavily on the secretaries, so when they're mean or callous towards us, it can be very upsetting and hurtful.

If I encounter school where the secretary is consistently mean and rude to me, I try to avoid that school in the future. The problem is, their bad behavior usually doesn't stop at unkind words. Mean secretaries can do some very unkind, even damaging things.

I had one experience where the secretary was in the habit of arriving late. She acted nasty when she saw me sitting in the office waiting for her. One day she actually took off early without forewarning me and left my time sheet (that had several entries) in the photocopy machine! Fortunately, I was able to track down another staff member and ask for help. It took some searching before the staff member finally found my time sheet. The secretary's nastiness and lax work hours were bad enough, but I couldn't believe a secretary would be so careless with an important document! I never returned to THAT school!

I realize that everyone has bad days, including the secretaries, and that the secretary's job can be demanding and hectic. But that doesn't excuse someone who is consistently mean and abusive. As others have said, there's no point subjecting yourself to mistreatment if you have other options. Go where you're appreciated and decently treated!

Last edited by luv2teach2017; 12-21-2019 at 10:33 AM..
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Old 12-21-2019, 12:30 PM
 
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"We do very nicely if we don't have a sub"

After she said that, I would have replied:

"Ok, well, sorry to have wasted any time. Just wanted to express apologies regarding my limited availability today. I understand things are quite crazy before the holidays."

Sometimes killing rude people with kindness works.

If she was still condescending after that, I would certainly cross that school off my list.
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Old 01-07-2020, 08:35 PM
 
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You have to understand, I've subbed a lot, and a lot of subs are absolutely terrible. I'm nothing special, but schools love me because I show up on time, dress well and pretend to care about teaching.

A lot of subs don't and it makes the secretary's job awful.

There are a lot of secretaries who are stuck up and have something against certain people. You will never get close to them, that's how they are. Then you'll have some who will treat you like their own children.

Some of them come around after years, some of them just ain't worth the trouble. If you're serious, stick with it, take a few jobs you normally wouldn't just to curry favor. If you have your pick of the litter, cut the schools that rub you the wrong way off the list.


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Old 01-07-2020, 09:15 PM
 
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Just for clarification, how does a terrible sub make the secretary's job awful? I can see how being late is a problem, but how does a sub not caring about teaching, or dressing poorly, make the secretary's job awful? Maybe I'm missing something, here.
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Old 01-08-2020, 04:19 PM
 
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I had a very similar situation. I accepted a 1/2 day job that started at 11am. At 7am my phone rang and the school secretary was on the line wondering where I was ??? I explained that I took a 1/2 day job starting at 11. The school secretary told me the teacher had gone back into the system and changed her need from 1/2 day to full day. (Great! How was I supposed to know that??). I told school secretary that I could be there by 9 am and that was acceptable. During the entire conversation I was getting the vibe that I was the one who had done something wrong.

Here is where my story differs from yours. When I got to school the other school secretary apologized for THEIR screw up, and everything was cool. I always feel appreciated at this school and it makes all the difference in the world. Staff thank me for coming in, teachers thank me for coming in, even STUDENTS thank me for coming in. If people were nasty I wouldn't do it.
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Old 01-08-2020, 04:30 PM
 
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Do they use Aesop/Frontline? I get an email if a job is modified. I also get a prompt on Jobulator to acknowledge the message
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Old 01-12-2020, 06:47 AM
 
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I've had a few secretaries be rude. I don't think they value what we do. I've gotten attitude for asking for directions to the classroom in a building I've never been in. Another time I found that the teachers lounge had a code that was needed to get in. When I went back to the office to get the code she rolled her eyes at me!
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