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New staff forming cliques
Old 12-27-2009, 08:16 AM
 
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I love my new school. I love that everyone works hard and that parents are so supportive and that my kids have absolute hearts of gold. I love that my administrator trusts me as a professional. I am incredibly lucky.

However, I am so sick of the small group of new teachers not participating in anything. The three of them were hired together last year and they make it a point to exclude themselves. They don't do secret santa, the christmas parties, the dress down days for charities, they eat lunch by themselves, etc. We celebrate birthdays for a few minutes before school and they don't come down. The PTO ordered us dinner for conferences and they took it down to one of their rooms and ate together. I am the same age and teaching experience as these folks and I just find it obnoxious that they purposely exclude themselves for all opportunities.

We had a whole school holiday sing-along on Wednesday and they all sat together (which baffles me because they teach different grades--don't you normally sit with your class?). They did not participate in the slightest and sat with their arms crossed and whispered back and forth. Doesn't that seem juvenile? I mean, we are here for the kids, right?

I wish I weren't being put in the middle. "Susie, couldn't you talk to them?" "Why don't they want to join us?" "Maybe you could mention to them that we really do want them to participate with us." "Maybe if you would say something to them they would come down." I really would love to try to get the staff more together but I don't think they will change their minds. Anyone have any suggestions?


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Old 12-27-2009, 10:41 AM
 
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You also have to remember how awkward it can be for the new people to enter an established environment, where they often feel like they are left out of the established routines. Plus, people are going to associate with the people they find things in common with.

I've worked at my school for 17 years, and I have never participated in a single secret Santa, Christmas dinner, or staff outing. I don't necessarily do "dress down" days or the silly "dress up" types of things like pajama day. I eat lunch with the people on my team since we don't have time to do anything else. When I don't have to sit with my class, I sit with friends, not necessarily people I work with every day.

I join in the things I enjoy doing, and I don't participate in those that I don't. That's the same way I am in "real-life" as well.

Don't be too hard on them. Spend your time enjoying yourself, and let them enjoy themselves. If you want to keep inviting them, do so.

Last edited by Ima Teacher; 12-27-2009 at 01:06 PM..
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do you know why they don't join in?
Old 12-27-2009, 11:06 AM
 
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If you knew why they didn't participate, then you could go from there. Maybe they just need to get more comfortable at your school. I think if you just keep it friendly and keep letting them know that they are welcome and wanted by the whole staff, they may start to join in. I sure hope so- I love when our whole staff acts silly together. It's great for morale. Hey, maybe they can be put in charge of a school-wide event, and then they could see how much fun it is when everyone joins in with them! Maybe they could organize something simple, like Hat Day. We had that where everyone who donated $1.00 could wear a hat, and the money went to a children's cancer hospital. Good luck!!!
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Old 12-27-2009, 11:14 AM
 
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We've got a clique that are trying all sorts of power plays. What they don't know is that they are all going to be out of jobs in June.

These folks have thwarted all attempts of other teachers and the administration to become part of the larger group. It is to the point that morale is suffering and other teachers are feeling shunned by the group.

I wish I had some good advice for you. You could try a few gentle suggestions with individual teachers along the line of "We'd really love to have you join us ____", but in the end they are going to do what they want to do. I'm just so glad that our administration is going to do something about it.
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Old 12-27-2009, 11:28 AM
 
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I don't really think I am a part of a clique or anything, but I do tend to exclude myself sometimes. Only because there are some really catty people on the staff- and I don't like to be a part of that. So, yes, I would be one of those that justs gets dinner, and goes back to my room. Sometimes, I do have friends that join me, other times I don't.


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Old 12-27-2009, 12:02 PM
 
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Lke a PP said, it can be initimidating to join a staff of people that already have tight friendships. The 3 teachers have a special bond because they started together, which is probably why they are such good friends now.

My advice is for you (and anyone else wanting to see a change) is to be intentional with these 3 people. Stop by their rooms after school, strike up a little conversation...do this enough and they might feel more included and be more opt to join in on the staff activities. Try to ignite a friendship.

I understand that some people would rather stay by themselves and/or not participate...but I also know from personal experience that unless someone makes me feel welcome, missed, appreciated, etc. that I might stay in my comfort zone instead with my little group of friends instead of getting involved and meeting other people.

Continue making an effort...it may or may not pay off. All you can do is invite them to participate, but it's their decision to join in!
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Old 12-27-2009, 02:56 PM
 
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Could it be possible that there are reasons why they don't participate in certain things (more than just not wanting to be with others and excluding themselves on purpose)? Has anyone came out and asked/invited them to join in? Or is everyone assuming they should just join in because the invitation is open to everyone?

I was thinking about some of the things you mentioned, and I don't participate in many of those things, and it has nothing to do with the people I work with (whom I love dearly!).

I didn't do secret santa because it would've just been another thing to remember and do (and I have enough already!). I don't normally do dress up/down kind of days because I either don't remember or I have enough to remember. I didn't do the Christmas party last year, because I had another party that had been scheduled before that. I'm planning to go this year. I rarely do any of the before school/morning celebrations because I'm getting ready for the day. Even though it's just a few minutes, I'm usually getting my classroom ready until my students walk through the door.

If you and the other teachers want them to come to these things, then I think you and the other teachers should make a point of saying to them, "you should come down and join us! We'd love to have you there."

I'm the new one at my school this year (having transferred from another school) and it can by daunting trying to get in with people who've been working together for quite awhile. As much as I love my staff and my school (and I think overall it's a very welcoming school) I still can't help but feel that sometimes that I don't have the connections with them that they have with each other. It really has been nice when someone has personally extended an invitation to me, or has come to my classroom before something and said, "are you going to ____? Do you want to walk down together?" Usually if it's something I hadn't planned to attend, I've changed my mind and gone just because someone has come to my classroom and given me the little nudge that I need once in awhile.

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It cuts both ways
Old 12-28-2009, 03:23 AM
 
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In some schools new people are excluded. I lived it. The "best" part was the my students would pout and get upset when the whole grade level would do something and leave us/me out. I got to be a villain.
All you can do is keep inviting them and hope they are having good experiences when the staff gets together.
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Old 12-29-2009, 11:53 AM
 
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Why is there a "need" or an "expectation" that everyone has to be a part of an unrealistic vision that people on a school staff have to be friends, truely love each other's company, and be expected do things together as a large group outside the work environment?

This is just a question - and please no judgement call intended. I understand some people feel the need to have everyone participating because they want everyone to have "fun" like they are having. What I don't understand in this reasoning - is - what is "fun" for one person, may not be "fun" for another.

I don't participate in Secret Santas or many other social events that are organized to get staff members together after school hours. There are many reasons - but lately . . . .

Usually they are "drinking to get drunk" parties (not to say I don't drink) but I'm careful who I get drunk around. Yet, I don't know why this would worry me - for when I'm drinking, I always get quieter than when I'm sobber . . . but I guess I rather not see my professional co-workers in this light - so I don't attend. I want to maintain a professional relationship with these people. Besides, I've never liked big crowded groups. I do better in small groups!

If a group of teachers came and put me on the spot and asked, "Why don't you want to join us? We really do want you to participate with us" - that would be a sure way to make me run in the opposite direction with a pinch of irritation at the teachers who had the nerve to ask me for a reason to "why not?" It's like the junk phone calls asking for donations . . . The rational is to get people on the line, or ask the people face to face for donation - it is suppose to be a sure way to get them to say "yes."

And yes, initially sometimes it even works with me - but I'm angry about their method -and this anger does builds up to where I avoid people who attempt to manipulate me in that way to get what they want!

Just let me know about the event planned - let me decide if I want to attend - and don't judge me by my decision - one way or the other. And please don't make yourself the victim when/if I choose not to participate.
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first teachers hired club...
Old 12-30-2009, 12:49 PM
 
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We have the opposite problem at our school. There is a group of teachers that call all the shots. They were the first teachers hired at our school (20+years ago). They constantly tell the rest of us how things are run. They live at the school too. Most of them are divorced and have no kids at home. They decide who teaches the best and who is not up to their standards. They have made several outstanding teachers transfer to other schools. One even has her neice teaching at the school. They also start rumors just to keep themselves on top.

When, I first came to the school one of the "chosen" gave me this cart with the math manipulatives on it. Unfortunately there was nothing useful on the cart. At the end of the year the math specialist inventoried everything on the cart and said a bunch of the math supplies were missing. I told her that was what was on the cart and that she needed to ask the "chosen one" that gave me the cart. Well, that "chosen"teacher had all the pattern blocks, base ten blocks and everything that was missing. Every time I had asked "the chosen one" for some of the math supplies during the school year she told me that all those materials were hers and that I needed to buy my own. It is so hard to work with people like this.
When I first came to the school we were told we had to use the back parking lot only certain teachers got to use the front lot. It was always something.

Like my mother always says-there seems to be a pecking order everywhere. I call it bullying 101. The biggest problem is that they also start rumors about the teachers to the parents. It is so hard to teach with people like this.

It takes very good administrators to help unite a school faculty and have it run smoothly.
Hopefully things will get better. But, remember there are always two sides to every situation.


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Old 12-30-2009, 03:02 PM
 
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I believe I work at a school similiar to what you are describing. I guess I am one of those first hired (20+ years ago) with quite a few exceptions with the descriptions - one is I HAVE NO POWER. I work with a few that think they do. . . . and most of the time the administrator sides with them - He hates conflict so as the saying goes: the squeeky wheels get oiled and the rest of us -"easy riders"- are expected not to make waves. When this happens, then everything goes smoothly. The few that want to rule the nest are happy and they settle down and stop beckering, the administrator is happy and he sure doesn't want the rest of us to break any eggs that might set off the hens again!

Another is that I DO share materials that the school district purchased. Unfornately - there isn't much that the school district purchased in my classroom. When I was hired YEARS ago, I either went to garage sales, purchased necessary items to teach, or I had absolutely NOTHING. Shoot, my first year, I even had to buy chalk for the chalk boards! They ran out in the school office of chalk when I asked for some and they weren't going to purchase any more and that was in October!

Almost ALL of the materials in my classroom were - OVER all the years - purchased personally by me. The money came out of my pocket!

So do please do consider that it is possible that these math materials did personally belong to her . . . and like her, I am not willing to just hand over materials - that took me years of my own personal money to purchase - In my experience, school's do not reinburse teachers for their personal belongings! And I do personally own my pattern blocks, linking cubes, and geo-boards!

If this makes me bad, then I'm bad.

As for not letting you park in the front parking lot, well . . . that is just cruel - I agree. Sometimes upsetting the nest of hens is the thing to do. Park in the front lot!!! :-)

As it always had been at my school, it's first come, first serve "each morning" when we drive in. The "Early Bird" gets the best spot, closest to the door! So if you don't want to park in the back 40 - in the mud - get out of bed and get there early.

I don't believe I call any shots . . . I guess I'm not that powerful. I do recall years ago when I was one of the younger teachers myself - that I was contantly told about school traditions and this is how we do things here, etc. etc. - as well as you have been treated. I have always hated the TRADITIONS that HAVE to be CONTINUED - according to the majority of staff members. I always wondered what's wrong with creating NEW ones??

As a beginner, I learned to "play dumb" a lot and do whatever anyhow! :-) Lesson: It's much EASIER and much more rewarding to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission in the first place. :-) Don't ASK, DO. Then be prepared to say, "Opps! I made a mistake. Sorry!" and walk away with a big smile in your mind.

I've live with a man (I'm not married) for 18 years and I do not have children. Not having children or not being married doesn't have anything to do with one's ability to teach better - than someone who's married and has kids. And I'm sure you already know that!

So never make "marriage" and "having kids or not" a factor in any agruement about one's teaching ability or one's ability to find or have time to plan and create teaching materials. We all have the same 24 hours in the day whether we have kids or not. It's how we choose to use that time.

And teacher's that judge others as being good/great teachers or not good/great teachers -aren't just those old 20+ year's experienced ones. I've meet many teachers who were free with their mouths about their opinions of other teachers' inabilities -and these teachers' experiences and their ages had great ranges! Some were first year teachers, some had 4 - 22 years of experience, and some have more experience teaching than myself.

Shoot, I took a class this summer and I listened to 2 teachers (my instructors of this class) make negative comments about a couple teachers in their home district that they thought were horrible teachers and they shared with the class that they thought these teachers should get out of the profession. These two instructors - otherwise sweet people - had taught probably only 5 - 8 years themselves. My first thought was "Wow . . . such balls they have to judge and to share this opinion about these two teachers with us, who they don't even know."

I listened quietly - thinking the might be describing me - and I came to find out the reason they knocked down one of the teachers was she did those sentence stripes with the calendar meeting -Those sentences that go: Today is ____________. Tomorrow will be ___________. Yesterday was _______________. And they thought this was a "total" waste of time - value teaching time - - -


And YES, according to them, this made this teacher a horrible teacher who they thought should get totally out of the teaching profession. Can you believe that? That was their reason. Note to myself: Don't share anything with these two people in this class. I might be the next subject of discussion in their next class.

Okay - I also had those sentences as a part of my calendar time as well -Therefore, following their logic, I also should get out of the profession as well - All because of sentence stripes on a calendar!!



I agree with you . . .

Starting untrue rumors - hurtful rumors -to the community of parents is just plain unprofessional of them to do. That is wrong! It's slander! If I could catch them in the act, I'd call the administrator on it. And I'd voice my concern with the superintendent as well.

But this behavior isn't always connected to a certain age of teachers - all ages have been known to do a lot of unprofessional things!

I've had many different administrators. Even the excellent ones have difficulty with changing the climax of the school. A school culture is based on it's HISTORY and the people that came before you and me. TRADITIONS can bite anyone. Things don't change over night. . . but little by little . . . they do change. Bully come in all shapes, sizes, and ages!
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Old 12-31-2009, 02:25 PM
 
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I appreciate the advice. I guess our situation is a little different--they don't want to be a part of it which would be okay but they don't do it nicely. It's not, "Gee, I'd like to work in my room." It's take your lunch that PTO provided back to your room with two other people and eat by yourselves.

When I ask them why they don't like the staff, they say because the they are old and they don't believe they should have to participate. I'm not saying that they need to do ANY of the social things we do but at least try to include yourselves a little. If someone is celebrating a birthday and you're going to eat their cake, come down and sing with the rest of us. If we're doing a dress down day for the boy who has cancer or the family whose house burned down, pay the dollar and dress down!! Not everything is a battle, you know? Not everything is about you not going along with the rest of the staff. Sometimes, people have good ideas. I guess I'm annoyed that they seem self-absorbed and that this is my future if I stay at this school.

People ask them often if they would like to join in but I truly believe they want to exclude themselves. There are two new hires coming up and they said they will be happy when it is a "young school". I am their age and I see the value in the older staff--where would I be without their helpful advice? I would not have half of the knowledge or resources. Okay, vent over---bring on the new year!
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Old 12-31-2009, 02:39 PM
 
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You're absolutely right and I see that and I'll try not to judge them. Everyone has a right to participate in what they want to--and lots of teachers DO just that in my building (I don't do everything either)--but I guess it's that they choose not to participate in everything all the time that annoys me. Even the worthwhile things like raising money or doing a class part for a whole school project. I think it would also be different if they were adding something positive but it is really just negative all the time with that group.

Anyway, maybe I'll start some little positive thing for the entire school and see if it will make me feel better about it.
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Just an idea
Old 12-31-2009, 05:37 PM
 
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I was a new teacher. I used to stand at my door while all the older "in crowd" teachers walked down the hall chatting. I made friends with all the old men teachers. They helped me a lot. Anyway.
One day just being visible in the hallway a teacher said she had not seen me in the cafeteria. ( I was just too embarrassed to show my face and have no one to sit with) I felt like an island in the school.

Anyway she told me that on Thursdays they have pot luck in her room and to come on up to the third floor. I did and made wonderful friends. They told me they didn't know where I hung out. And probably assumed since I was new to the school I was soo busy catching my breath working hard. Just an idea. I made life long friends and was invited to every party. Even when the enrollment went down and I was transferred to another school. I again had to learn to make friends at the new school. I have done this three times. I usually am quiet the first year. Find out who to avoid - you find out pretty quick. I have friends again but my second school is still my favorite group of friends.
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Old 01-01-2010, 08:56 AM
 
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You're absolutely right. We can't change others into people we want them to be. We can only control what we, individually, think and act towards others' behaviors. But this doesn't mean that - once in a while - we can't growl like a bear after we witness some of the others' behaviors that seem to cross "our" lines of appropriate behavior. :-)
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