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bGracie bGracie is offline
 
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Old 02-14-2020, 03:52 PM
 
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I want to share a story about what I've been doing for the past seven years. I moved to Mexico seven years ago, and for the first three years, I taught second grade. Then I became the mentor for the new teachers. That was a full-time job because I was mentor for ALL of them. This included observing them, giving them feedback, assisting them when I could. Before they arrived here, I was responsible for communicating with them about immigration information, housing, and things like that. The first year as mentor went fine. I enjoyed it. But during the second year, there were a lot of complaints because some of that year's new teachers weren't happy with their housing, some didn't like the way things were done at our school, etc. I knew they were complaining even though they never directly said anything to me. I was not responsible for placing them in their housing, but they didn't know that, and they wanted someone to blame. I didn't want to throw the person who was responsible under the bus, so I never said anything.

Since we are a small school with many expat teachers, we tended to spend a lot of time together socially, too. They still do. I do not. After trying so hard to support them and help them to have a smooth transition, but knowing they were complaining about me behind my back, I was no longer comfortable socializing with them. Then when one of them started having major problems with her lesson planning and classroom management, and she started receiving multiple parent complaints, I was responsible, along with her boss, to put her on an improvement plan and make sure she was meeting her goals. This made me the bad guy, and I heard plenty of complaints from the new teachers about how we were being too harsh, but we truly were not. We gave her so many opportunities. She wouldn't have lasted a month in a U.S. public school. But I felt even more uncomfortable socializing with them outside of school because I knew they were saying unkind things behind my back. I just told myself to look for social opportunities outside of school with other people, which I did, but that is somewhat more difficult in a different country than in my home country of the U.S.

Halfway through my second year as mentor, the admin moved me to the elementary coordinator position, which is sort of like principal, but not exactly. Things are done differently here. The current coordinator had had to leave unexpectedly, and I was put in that position without even being asked. But in my new role, I was over all of the elementary department. As such, I could see why the teachers may not be comfortable socializing with me outside of school, but it was difficult being put in that position because I was away from my home country as well. I needed support as well, but there was none for me. But in that role, I always tried to stand up for the teachers and support them.

The next year, I took a position in the media center/library because the admin knew I didn't want to be coordinator permanently. I'm still in the media center, and I really enjoy it. I get to work with all of the primary students. But something happened today that really bothered me. One of the teachers (from the complain-y group but one of the more tolerable ones whom I trusted) reported to her boss that she had heard me speaking harshly to one of her students and that he felt crushed. I had had to discipline him, but I did so in a calm and quiet manner. He never even said he felt crushed. She just thought he looked crushed, so that's what she reported. Later on, he was talking to me about something interesting that had happened to him today. He was fine and completely comfortable with me, not crushed.

When I was a classroom teacher, and even now, I was always told I have excellent classroom management and that I seem to have good relationships with my students even when I have to discipline them. I speak to them quietly and respectfully. The coordinator (this teacher's boss, not mine) came to talk to me about the situation, and I explained exactly what happened. I knew some background information that the teacher didn't know, so the teacher had jumped to conclusions without knowing the whole story. She had stood next to me smiling and acting like everything was fine, but then she immediately went and told on me. If she had a problem with what I said to the student, why didn't she say something directly to me? I deserve that respect. My co-worker was in the room with me today, and he stood up for me. He knew exactly what I said to the student and the tone with which I said it. I know I treated this student kindly and appropriately. Once the coordinator heard my side of the story since I'm the one who had the details, she realized there was no problem. I'm not bothered by having had to explain what I had said to the student. I'm bothered by the fact that this teacher didn't treat me with any respect. I had always done everything I could to be respectful to her. And why could't she take the time to realize that maybe she didn't know the whole story?

I'm just frustrated. I feel like I should say something to her, but I probably won't.

I hope this all made sense. I know it's a bit complicated, and things here are not done like they are in the U.S.


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Old 02-14-2020, 08:15 PM
 
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It sounds as though newer/younger(?) teachers may have viewed you as a supervisor and not a peer. Sometimes there's an adversarial relationship that goes with that. Did you feel she was setting you up when she went to the principal?

You are a long way from home and you need friends. Has the faculty changed so much over the past 7 years that you are truly lonely. Are most of the teachers now younger than you? Small schools can be quite cliquish. Some Christian schools can be especially that way. Teachers can get torpedoed by smug colleagues who claim they were only righteously concerned.

Is it time to end the adventure of teaching in Mexico? Maybe you're ready for something new, a different phase of your life.

If you still love teaching at your school and want to stay in Mexico, I'd tell the teacher who tattled on you how you feel about her actions, and I'd be pretty direct. You may react differently.
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:52 PM
 
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Quote:
It sounds as though newer/younger(?) teachers may have viewed you as a supervisor and not a peer. Sometimes there's an adversarial relationship that goes with that. Did you feel she was setting you up when she went to the principal?
They are somewhat younger than me, but not a whole lot. This particular teacher is 28. I'm sure they saw me as a supervisor, and I would understand why maybe spending a lot of time with me outside of school would make them uncomfortable. Maybe they wouldn't feel like they could speak freely. That I understand.

Yes, the faculty has significantly changed. Teachers tend to stay here only two or three years. I've been here longer than that, not that I necessarily love the school, but I do love the kids, and I really enjoy living in Mexico. It's not just an adventure. I actually feel happier here than in the States. You're right that I need to have friends which is why I have cultivated friendships in a dance group, at church, and a couple other places. I'm also friends with a few teachers who no longer work at my school but still live in Mexico. They arrived here around the same time I did. I don't want my life to revolve around the school, but knowing the majority of the other teachers from the U.S. spend lots of time together, it makes me feel kind of bad, which is odd because I didn't move here so I could be in an American/English bubble. I could have had that without ever leaving the U.S.

Another part of the problem is that the current coordinator is 26 years old and the roommate of the teacher who said I was being harsh. I don't think that helps the situation.

I don't really think the teacher was setting me up. I don't know why she would. Plus, the coordinator/principal isn't even my supervisor in any way. I'm not in any kind of trouble or potential trouble. I just didn't like that the teacher said something about me that wasn't accurate, and instead of talking to me about it, sent someone else to do her dirty work.

It's just hard to have good intentions and not be appreciated. I guess it's not even that I want them to appreciate me. I just don't want them to create drama where there isn't any.

Quote:
If you still love teaching at your school and want to stay in Mexico, I'd tell the teacher who tattled on you how you feel about her actions, and I'd be pretty direct. You may react differently.
I often still love teaching at my school (even though I'm currently not a fan of some of the faculty) and I want to stay in Mexico. This is the thing: I want to talk to her about this, and I tend to be pretty direct myself, but I posted here for advice because I sometimes don't know when it's okay to be direct and stand up for myself and when I just need to let something go.

Thank you for your reply. I appreciate it.
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Yes...
Old 02-15-2020, 05:36 AM
 
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I believe speaking with the teacher would be a good idea.

I know you will be professional during the conversation, but this teacher needs to know your side of the story and how she might improve her approach in the future.

I am hoping this conversation can mend the rift between the two of you and make your working relationship more comfortable.
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Old 02-15-2020, 06:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Small schools can be quite cliquish. Some Christian schools can be especially that way. Teachers can get torpedoed by smug colleagues who claim they were only righteously concerned.
Oh my gosh, this can be true of small schools and places where people feel like they can warp some norm or sense of morality into justifying being unkind to others. This comment brought back a memory I had almost forgotten.

Quote:
Another part of the problem is that the current coordinator is 26 years old and the roommate of the teacher who said I was being harsh. I don't think that helps the situation.
I think that there is a lack of professional boundaries here and that is part of the issue. This teacher has no professional boundaries with her supervisor which probably means that she "gossips" about things with her that a person might not bring to an authority figure that was her roommate. This teacher didnt go to your boss and supervisor, she went to her friend that happens to have more pull and authority. Tacky and unprofessional .

I think it would have been best if you had told the coordinator that hope that she sends teachers with issues directly to you in future as it would be good for them to experience communicating difficult conversations directly with colleagues as this is the expected norm here in U.S. schools (It is my understanding from you post that they are hoping to come here and teach in the U.S. right). That way you would have framed it in a way that shows that you are simply trying to build up this teachers professionalism and not holding a grudge-which is clearly something that is needed for this person.

But since you cant go back in time and ask the coordinator to send future issues to you directly on the basis of professionalism and learning U.S. behaviors norms I think you may have to end up just letting it go. IF you go to this persona now after she tattled on you it might end up being the beginning of an animosity that makes working together awkward. Would she skew your words and go to her coordinator with a story that you crush her with your words when she was just doing her job.

If it happens again though...you would diffidently need to address it. Hopefully this coordinator will know enough to tell her not to jump to conclusions and to communicate professionally with other staff in the future without you having to say anything but...26...I kind of doubt it .


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As an aside
Old 02-18-2020, 06:27 AM
 
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I seek to teach in Mexico. Can i join you?

I enjoyed reading your story. Classy people do not confront. You are doing everything correctly

I would socialize & and not complain

I am serious.

Thank you for writing and posting. How old are most of the expats and where is your home town?
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Old 02-20-2020, 07:02 AM
 
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Thanks for your advice, everyone. I was sick on Monday, so I wasn't at work, which actually helped me to just move on. I didn't mention anything to the teacher. I still think she handled the situation poorly, but I know I didn't do anything wrong, so... time to move on.

Happygal, most of the expats are between 22-45. It just varies from year to year. Sometimes singles come. Sometimes families come. I'm originally from the midwestern U.S.
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