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Has a good intention gone wrong?
Old 09-01-2018, 09:04 PM
 
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Hi! I am an alternative teaching student who is working part time as a substitute while working on my training. I've been doing it for a little over 6 months (including last semester) and though I am not certified yet my school district has hired me as a long term sub for a fourth grade classroom.

One of my students comes from a not so great background and I have formed a bond with him. He has been constantly telling me how much he loves airplanes but has never seen one in real life before. Well coincidentally I have a connection with a pilot at the local airport and thought to have this child come out and have a really cool experience. I got in contact with his parents and they loved the idea. After I got the green light from the parents I set up the event with the pilot and went to invite my co-teacher to come as well so that way everyone would be included and feel comfortable about it.

At first she was all for it and told me that I needed to run it by our principal who also thought it was great idea. The principal even helped me get in contact with a local community person who also does things like this for kids. Well that's were the good ends and the confusion and whip lash starts. By the end of the school day my co-teacher is blowing up my phone telling me I need to call it off that both she and the teacher I am long term subbing for don't like and are uncomfortable with me doing this for our student. She tells me that I as a long term sub do not need to be making trouble for her and the parents that since I'm only going to be there for a short time it wasn't my place and that I needed to never do something like this again.

Well I told her okay and I tried my best to get in contact with the parents but I couldn't get a hold of anyone and so the next day the kid and his parents show up at the airport oblivious to all of this. Now my co-teacher knows the event happened despite my efforts to put it on hold and even tried to tell me that I needed to keep it a secret from the teacher I am subbing for, to go through her to talk to my principle and never do something like this again. My feelings are hurt but most of all confused as to what I did wrong as an educator and a community member trying to give back to a kid who will be better off for this experience. Please help me understand, I have been stressing about it for days now and don't want to walk into my principal's office completely flabbergasted as to this whole situation.


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You did nothing wrong
Old 09-02-2018, 02:27 AM
 
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The teacher you're subbing for feels as though you are stepping on her toes. Now SHE doesn't have the opportunity to build the relationship with the student like you did. She feels you oversteppef.

You did a good thing for the kid, with principal approval!
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What to Do
Old 09-02-2018, 02:48 AM
 
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That was a nice thing to do, and your heart is in the right place. I am not a fan of keeping secrets and don't like the advice the teacher gave you.

I would be careful about spending time with a student outside of school hours even if the parents are there too. It is best to interact with students at school only.

You got approval from the principal and don't need to talk with him/her again. Move on with things, and try not to agonize about it all.
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Don't worry!
Old 09-02-2018, 03:14 AM
 
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Quote:
You did a good thing for the kid, with principal approval!
Exactly. You work for the principal, not the teacher on leave. You asked first, and you had the proper approval.
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Old 09-02-2018, 03:52 AM
 
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Number one: you had principal approval
Number two: parents were with you and the child
Number three: You did everything correct at the time of setting it up.

Now, let go of the stress and anxiety of the teacher's message and keep the amazing feeling of what you did for that child in its place.

I would suggest you do not approach the co teacher or the teacher when she comes back about this. I really dont know why they changed their mind.other than the teacher may already be on rocky ground with the parents.

Thank you for doing something special for this young student who will now have a wonderful memory from a teacher!


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Why everyone is upset
Old 09-02-2018, 04:33 AM
 
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This wouldn't fly at my school, but our principal would have told you no. Why was this set up for only one student? It smells of favoritism and one up manship. I can see parents getting a bee in their bonnets that the teachers do "nothing" and a sub did this. If you were my coworker I wouldn't appreciate it either.
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Old 09-02-2018, 04:41 AM
 
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This sounds like petty behavior and insecurity on behalf of the teacher you are subbing for. That kid is more important than the ego of a teacher. While I make it a point not to.do things outside of school due to the culture we are living in, and how it may be misunderstood...you had approval and support. I would not keep this a secret though. Imagine how crushed that child would have been if you would have called it off and for what? An insecure woman and her friend? Just because you are a LTS does not mean you don't have valid ideas. Toughen up that backbone now, so that you can continue to make great impacts on student lives, even when other are made insecure by it!!
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Old 09-02-2018, 04:52 AM
 
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They are jealous because they didn't or wouldn't do something like that. By going so above and beyond you made them look bad by comparison. You set up an expectation in the principal's and parents' eyes that other teachers won't meet.

You followed correct protocol with the principal and parents.

You did a very nice thing for the child. However, you set yourself up for feelings of favoritism from other kids in the class. If you do something like this again it would be better over summer vacation. I imagine that the other kids are now hoping/expecting something like this and will feel disappointed and frustrated. They have a legitimate reason to feel that way.

I would be frustrated if I was the other teacher because this is an example of even if a teacher is amazing during contract time, there is still an expectation that we do more.
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The focus should be on the child...
Old 09-02-2018, 08:36 AM
 
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not on the other teacher's feelings. You followed the correct protocol. Sometimes in life we just do the what is best for our fellow man, and I think you did a wonderful thing by providing this experience for your student. It is too bad that everyone could not be happy for the child.

Thanks for going above and beyond to connect with a student. You are an extraordinary person....and I would love to teach with you and have you sub in my class! Have a great weekend....and let all the negativity go for you did nothing wrong.
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We don't know the other teacher's reason
Old 09-02-2018, 09:36 AM
 
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for not being happy about this. I think we should not jump to conclusions as to why she thinks this was not a good idea.

I spent my years teaching with my priority being building a community of learners. To reach that goal I made sure that there was never any outward display of favoritism. Taking one child to such an awesome experience is amazing and very kind and warmhearted of you, very generous in fact, but if your goal was to build trust and a tightly knit bond between your students, this did not work towards that goal. Some students will probably be jealous of that student's great day and that jealousy will probably add negativity to the classroom in unpredictable ways.

I worked in a large suburb. We had students that "had and had not" Many of us reached out to provide things and experiences to the "have not" group of kids. We were lucky that we could do it like ninjas. We did not go directly to the parents and the child we went through the PTO, community charities, friends and clubs and any other individual or group we could use. They were able to do these things for our students and we were never identified as the donors. It kept our students feeling that no one was favored yet it provided wonderful experiences for out students in need.

I don't think any of what happened was in any way your fault. I think the P and others dropped the ball. Don't take the blame for what others with more authority have approved. There is good and bad in everything. You did something good for that one student. Be proud of that, but maybe next time do it in a way that would not have any possibility of making his/her classmates jealous or think you show favoritism?


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Old 09-02-2018, 10:27 AM
 
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I think it might have been different had you not attended, just arranged it.
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Old 09-02-2018, 10:38 AM
 
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I think it was very nice of you to set up this opportunity for the student, and since you did get approval you didn't technically do anything wrong. However, I agree with the others who mentioned that this shows favoritism to one student and could easily be misconstrued by other students, parents, or teachers. I would avoid doing something like this again and instead go about helping in the manner that chipmunky suggested.
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Old 09-02-2018, 10:56 AM
 
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Thank you everyone for the advice, and encouragement. I agree with several of y'all on how this could look like favoritism, though that was not my intention, feelings don't always care. I will do my best to rectify the situation and be more careful on the future!
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Old 09-02-2018, 11:43 AM
 
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This is a "live and learn" situation. I can see your heart was in the right place, and you did everything right by getting approval from your principal. I don't know why the other teachers got upset but there are a couple of reasons why that have been pointed out already.

Personally, I have worked with kids who came from very underprivileged backgrounds and would have loved to be able to do fun things with them outside of school like going to a zoo or museum- things many had never done. I have always decided not to do that. There are issues of favoritism but other issues you might not have considered are the liability you might be taking on should the child get injured while attending the activity, and there is even the worry that you could be accused of "grooming" the child by doing special things with them outside of school.

I would take it as a learning experience and simply move on, don't beat yourself up about it.
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My first thought when I read this was
Old 09-02-2018, 02:02 PM
 
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kind of shocked because of liability. Maybe I have taught so long here that liability was drilled in my head deeply. ( It must not be an issue where you are or your P would not have agreed.)
My second thought was how sweet it was of you to set up this opportunity for him. It is really cool that you were able to do that for him. He'll probably remember that as a highlight in his education.
As I read the comments, I realized how it could be taken as favoritism too. ( Which can hurt community building in the classroom.)

I think some1 above gave you good advice of arranging it for him and his mom to have the experience together or making it a field trip for your class.
Try to "let it go" because no matter what you do, there will always be someone who tries to rain on your parade. I would not buy into the secret because there are very few secrets kept in schools except among very close friends. Best wishes!!!
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Old 09-02-2018, 02:57 PM
 
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I don't think my district would ever sanction a field trip with just one student or a trip that wasn't directly tied into the current curriculum. In addition, the liability would also be significant.

It's understood that your intentions are good but most districts adhere to strict guidelines.

Don't take the change of plans personally. In education, things change at the last minute for reasons that are unclear.

Last edited by Renea; 09-02-2018 at 03:38 PM..
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Old 09-03-2018, 12:59 AM
 
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The good news is that this over. We've all survived having good intentions that didn't go over well and you will too. I clipped a child's fingernails once (after talking with the principal and nurse to see if I could) and my coworkers were horrified. The parent could have been very insulted. I knew less about the community we served than my coworkers so I took their word I had overstepped and was more careful after that. I made a bad call with good intentions. I learned from it.

In the future, I'd talk to the principal FIRST. Since you're a sub, clearing things with the teacher and/or team would be important too.

Usually a good blanket rule to follow is if you offer something, make it something you would be willing/able to offer in some form for any of the other students as well. (For example having a book at home on airplanes and bringing it in for him to look at is something where you might reasonably do something similar for any of the kids. Your "gift" was so big there's no way you'd ever be able to do something similar for all of them.)

Kids get jealous, parents get jealous, it can start to squeak of favoritism. For now, it's over and done with and it doesn't seem like any harm came from it in terms of students/parents. Hopefully it will blow over with your possible future coworkers.

Like another poster, what we do is go through the principal or the PTA and arrange for the child to be chosen for this special opportunity. Or maybe you could pass along a phone number of the pilot to the parent and the pilot could be the one making the invitation to the parent. That way the opportunity comes from an outside source and doesn't look like favoritism to one child in your classroom.
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Old 09-03-2018, 08:49 AM
 
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Over my many years of teaching I took kids fishing, to basketball games, football games etc. If I knew a kid was from a very poor, usually single parent home and it felt right I arranged something. It NEVER Got any bad feed back and frankly, I could care less what somebody thinks when Im on my own time. Over the years the kids I gave extra too have thanked me and even their moms.
But it is a new era. God forbid a teacher goes outside the box to make a difference in a child's life. Its all about data and testing and NEVER chance any liability in regards to our poor children...........
I was fortunate to work in small schools in a rural setting where it seemed lawyers did not lurk behind every tree and jealousy wasn't rampant.

btw, Teachermaybe......you did nothing wrong. Doing nice things for kids that are struggling is NEVER wrong. This may turn out to the be spark the kid needs to cross that bridge to success.
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Old 09-03-2018, 11:55 AM
 
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Absolutely your heart was in the right place for doing this. NO ONE can doubt your sincerity. It is, however, unfortunate that such a kind and good-hearted deed easily turned into something with unintended consequences.

This is why teaching in general (and not just this specific event) is so stressful.. You end up having to CONSTANTLY be thinking a step ahead... you constantly evaluate your choices - no matter how well-intended - and you constantly feel like you re being scrutinized for every little choice you make. So sad... but true.

With experience, you will learn to be able to think though all the possible consequences of each educational decision you make, and you will learn when to move forward with an idea... and when to hold off. It will become an instinct, almost second nature.

So sorry you had to go through this, but hopefully it turned into a valuable learning experience for you.
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Old 09-03-2018, 12:11 PM
 
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You didn't do anything wrong. Those teachers have a particular relationship with parents. They might feel that you are meddling in their business. They might feel that you are somehow altering their relationship with the parents too. They created a foundation with the parents, and now there are some sudden changes when you came up with fun and creative things for the students to do. They could be jealous and feel threatened by you because you are planning positive experiences in that environment. And doing those things may require extra work for them.

Also there is the important idea of liability in this situation. The regular teachers probably don't want the hassle of being responsible for any problems that might occur. I can understand this mode of thought.

I taught for many years. Now when I am subbing, I reward students for good behavior. I am simply trying to survive and get through the day. That's all it is. Occasionally I have a teacher who sees my rewards and frowns. I get the feeling some don't like it because they haven't been positive for a while. I've been on both sides. I welcomed positive ideas from others when I was a teacher. But I wasn't perfect, and I had my faults in other areas as a teacher.
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