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luv2teach2017 luv2teach2017 is offline
 
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Yikes! Advice needed!
Old 02-23-2018, 01:02 PM
 
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I apologize for this long post, but I really need to get this off my chest and get feedback. I had a very scary day last week dealing with a staff member at an elementary school.

Last week, I subbed for a 3rd grade class. I'd subbed there before. It was a nice school with nice kids. I was going over the Lesson Plans, when a young woman walked into the room.
She said she was the deaf interpreter for one of the students in the class.

I had just been reading the Lesson Plan and told her that the teacher had not mentioned her in the notes. (The Plan had lots of other details about parent volunteers who'd be coming and even how to prepare for one child's birthday that day.) I asked her what she would be doing. She assured me that she merely sat next to the (one) deaf kid in the class and signed to him as I taught. She said "you won't even know that I'm there." I said I was happy she was there and that I'd never worked with a signing interpreter in the room. Suddenly, she announced to me that she was also "in charge of classroom management." I thought it was odd that she'd just blurted that out. I asked her if she'd ever taught a class before. She said no. I quickly assured her that I am an experienced teacher and have my own classroom management strategy that worked very well . I asked her to just relax and work with her student for the day. She then tried to scare me, warning that the kids would take advantage of me and that only she knew what was allowed and what wasn't. I assured her I could handle it.

When I went to get the students, she came out with me and started to take charge of the kids. I again asked her to please let me "be the teacher" and said that I need to establish my authority with the kids. She then got angry and blurted out (in front of the kids) "Well I already HAVE that. I HAVE authority with them, and I'm NOT willing to lose that!!) I couldn't believe this woman's behavior! I just tried to gather my wits so I could do my job.

Once I had the kids in the room, I began my usual introduction to myself and went over the expectations and rules of behavior for the day. Instead of sitting next to the deaf student, as she'd promised, this woman moved around the room wherever I went and stood right next to me signing (once I turned around and almost ran into her)! I was feeling very uncomfortable but tried to ignore it and carry on.

At the same time, she began micromanaging me and correcting nearly everything I said. I asked the kids to use a widely used (I've taught in several districts) hand sign to indicate they needed the rest room. This woman immediately interjected, insisting with me that it was incorrect and an insult to deaf people to use that sign. She accused me of being insensitive to the culture and that it was a "school for the deaf" (it was a public school and there was only one deaf kid in the class!) She then said she couldn't work with me and stormed out of the room, with the little deaf boy in tow!

The next thing I knew, the principal came in and asked to see me at recess. She was annoyed and said that I needed to work with the interpreter and that the interpreter was very upset, saying I was "rude" and "insulted" her. I realized that the principal had been told a bunch of lies. So I filled her in on the rest of the story, including that the interpreter had started an argument in front of the class. The principal acknowledged that wasn't appropriate and said she'd let the interpreter decide whether or not she wanted to return to the class. I said I didn't mind her being there as long as she didn't continue to argue with me.

The translator chose to work with the boy outside of class that day. But that wasn't the last of it. Throughout the day, she continued to reappear in the classroom, for no apparent reason. Her anger was palpable...she walked in with shoulders hunched and her head down, frowning. At one point, I tried to talk to her and she again started attacking me, accusing me of being rude to her and "insensitive to the deaf culture," claiming that she'd "never been treated that way before." I realized that she didn't want to meet me half way. She just wanted to attack . She grabbed a sticky note, jotted down 3 teachers' names, and said that if I subbed at that school again to avoid those teachers because she worked with them. She got up and rushed out of the classroom. Lots and lots of drama. She was angry and raging.

I also continued to see her outside when I was with the class...she'd appear nearby, still looking very angry. I began to feel threatened. So at the end of the day, instead of handing in the key and going home, I told the principal about the woman's continuing appearances and anger. I told the principal that I knew the translator had a key to the room and was leery due to her continued rage. I had the principal do a walk through in the classroom with me so she could confirm in my presence that everything was left in its place and in proper condition. I then handed her the lesson plan and my report for the day saying I'd rather leave it in her keeping.

I had not included the interpreter's behavior in the report because the principal had intervened. (The kids had been well behaved and on task all day...NOT the kind of class that needed two adults managing them!) I told the principal that the teacher's lesson plans had not mentioned the translator at all (hmm I wonder why?).

I realize that I felt too shell shocked to think clearly, so I left out a lot when talking to the principal. I just felt numb. Now after thinking about it, I couldn't see how anything I did justified this woman's over the top behavior. She was overly dramatic and emotionally volatile...and the level of intensity did not let up. How can any normal person continue that degree of intensity, drama, and rage all day long?

Even worse, shortly after leaving the school that day, I discovered I had a flat tire! I can't say whether this woman had anything to do with it. I sure hope not. But it seems too coincidental.

I was exhausted when I got home and have been feeling traumatized ever since. Fortunately, I can choose not to return to that school. But I hate having to avoid an entire school because of one person. Should I talk to the principal again now that my head has cleared? Should I go to HR? What is your input/advice?



Last edited by luv2teach2017; 02-23-2018 at 01:50 PM..
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Old 02-23-2018, 02:42 PM
 
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Have you talked to or contacted the teacher? It would be interesting to see what he or she has to say about it.

Several years ago, I had a class with a deaf student and a signing interpreter, but she was a very nice person who did everything possible to support me. This woman's behavior was weird and unprofessional, and it sounds like she shouldn't be anywhere near students.
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collaboration, compromise and coordination
Old 02-23-2018, 02:48 PM
 
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As the adults in the room, I think that you could've handled the situation better. The main thing is to keep ALL students safe and learning. You probably realize this but her presence does not have to be indicated in the plan for instruction if you know for a fact that there's a student with special needs, HOH/deaf. At that point after the introduction, I would've just said, "Oh, that's great, glad that you're here... Here's what the regular teacher itemizes on the plan, what can you help me with without exploiting you ..."

I think I understand that she may have crossed the line when she started to make you feel that you may not be able to manage/handle the class. And you had proved her wrong. That was a little unprofessional of her.

It seems to me that it escalated happened when you both went to pick up the students in a designated area. There's a little pride thing coming into play and if there was a little compromise, it could've been a better outcome. You are supposed to be role models and I'm wondering if students got that. I'm sorry that this had happened.
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Former deaf ed teacher here
Old 02-23-2018, 02:52 PM
 
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Unbelievable and unacceptable behavior from the interpreter. I don’t have all the answers by any means, but I taught in Deaf Ed for over half my career, so I know a thing or two about what an intepreter’s job is, and what it isn’t.

She was right to follow you around the room and sign as you spoke. The reason for that is it gives the hearing-impaired person context for the conversation. They can watch the signs while also seeing whatever it is you may be holding up, pointing out, etc. Certainly the interpreter should have told you she’d be doing that, rather than stating she would simply be sitting next to the student.

An interpreter is NOT in charge of the classroom. They are strictly responsible for signing what the teacher and students are saying, as well as reverse interpreting if the hearing-impaired student is responding to the teacher or other students.

They MAY, depending on the situation, assist the student with an assignment, or do some limited reteaching, if necessary for the student to understand. This may be done very discreetly at the student’s desk, at a table somewhere else in the room, or the interpreter may pull the student from the room for a short time.

Removing the student from the room for the majority of the day, if he or she is mainstreamed, is in violation of that student’s IEP (Individual Education Plan),as it is not the “least restrictive environment”.

I’m guessing you showed the students the sign for the letter “r” for restroom or maybe the sign for the letter “t” for toilet. The “r” sign is considered more polite, but to suggest using either of those is an insult to deaf people is utterly ridiculous.

This woman clearly has control issues, as made evident by her insistence that SHE had authority with the kids “and I don’t want to lose that”. Combine that with her stalker-ish behavior and raging attitude, and it speaks volumes.

I wouldn’t let this control freak keep me from subbing at that school. You’ve already talked with the P, so I’d let it go. The P may know little about deaf ed, and could have been nervous about the interpreter being upset. In the P’s mind, she could have been imagining how to tell the parent that the interpreter up and quit (they are hard to come by) and now who is going to meet the student’s educational needs. Who knows? Just a thought.

The person who need to know about this interpreter is the deaf ed supervisor, if there’s a deaf ed program in that district. If not, then I’d speak with the special ed supervisor. He or she needs to know that this interpreter is being very unprofessional and very inappropriate.

I’m sorry you had to deal with this. You were smart to have the P do a walk through and then put the keys and your notes in her hands. I agree, the flat tire seems fishy. I do not believe in coincidences.
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Old 02-23-2018, 04:13 PM
 
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Thank you so much! You clearly have the expertise to help me better understand the situation. I didn't object to her following me to sign. But I was thrown off because she said she'd be sitting. As for her role...thanks for explaining. Apparently she expected to go outside her role and became angry when I didn't go along. I got that she felt very entitled, and if her job is hard to fill, that explains why. But it doesn't justify her behavior, you're right. As it was, the one most impacted was the deaf student. While she was busy arguing and trying to micromanage me, she was neglecting him. And she removed him needlessly. He even missed out on a classmate's birthday treats that day. I will seek out the special ed coordinator. Thanks again for your help!



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Old 02-23-2018, 06:52 PM
 
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Let us know if you have an update to share, luv2teach2017. I wouldn’t say I have expertise, just experience. . It just hit me all wrong that this woman was focused on control instead of the student she was supposed to be there for.
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Old 02-24-2018, 06:44 AM
 
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I have another thought.

I've worked with a lot of parapros/classroom assistants over the years, and most have been quite helpful. I wonder, though, if some are a little bored because they have limited roles, often working with only a student or two day after day. I have a tremendous respect for them because they work so hard. I don't think I could do it.

I have the impression that some parapros almost enjoy it when the regular teacher is absent. It gives them a chance to have a more active role and assume more control. I honestly don't mind when a classroom assistant gets up to give the class a reminder, point out something about the lesson, or make an important announcement. I've never had one "cross the line," but it sounds like yours clearly did.
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Old 02-24-2018, 11:50 AM
 
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You're absolutely right about that. In fact the Interpreter admitted to me that she can only handle interpreting for half the day at most. I have seen other paras neglecting the student they are in charge of while getting overly involved with children not under their charge. ( I've also seen aides sit reading a book or texting while neglecting their charge)..

It's frustrating for me because I'm a competent teacher and experienced sub, and do not take well to an aide's micromanaging me or interfering with my work while I'm teaching. Just because an aide is bored doesn't mean they have the right to take charge of the class or go outside of or neglect their assigned duties. Some aides are wonderful and helpful. But others can be very difficult because they seem to assume they can dominate substitutes and dictate the terms in the regular teacher's absence.

If the teacher's notes indicate that the para will do certain tasks or work with a certain group during the day or whatever, I go with that. But most lesson plans merely mention the para's name, the student(s) they're assigned to, and that they will be happy to answer my questions. I go by the lesson plans because it's my responsibility to do so.

This interpreter I encountered is the worst para I've ever dealt with. However I have had issues with other paras being loud and heavy-handed with the children, rude to me, and interfering with my ability to do my job.

I substitute teach because I really enjoy teaching kids. I can earn more money and have less stress doing other work, but I chose to sub so that I could teach a bit. I'm not interested in having an aide do my job, and that's not what they're getting paid for either!

Last edited by luv2teach2017; 02-25-2018 at 07:44 AM..
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Old 02-24-2018, 02:47 PM
 
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Before I go into a school as a sub, I prepare myself mentally because you never know who will be in your room. I had to put up with a micro manager for six years when I worked full time as a teacher. I try to suck it up and do my best around others when they are there in the room with me. If they give me advice, I will try to use it or pretend to use it as long as they are there.

The trouble with schools is that you don't always know who is coming into the room. I wish they would tell me and introduce themselves. They often sit down and work with a few kids or watch me. It could be an administrator, aide, or intervention teacher. I usually introduce myself when they are there after a few minutes. It can be uncomfortable for a bit. I will probably do this subbing for a couple of more years, but I will eventually get out of education because I think it's getting more demanding in many ways, and it's getting less enjoyable for me. I like a routine to some degree, and there are no routines as a sub.

I had a class a few weeks back that was just terrible. Everything went wrong, and nobody gave me the heads up on the situation. I want to leave feeling okay about my work, and subbing often doesn't provide this.
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Old 02-26-2018, 12:47 PM
 
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I totally understand what you're saying. I find it alarming that folks treat the classroom so casually. As guest teachers, we oftentimes don't know the staff, and so it should be common practice (and common courtesy) for adults to introduce themselves when they enter. I stop any adult trying to enter the classroom, introduce myself, and ask who they are. Some get annoyed with me, but most understand.

I hate to think that we guest teachers have to resign ourselves to accepting bad habits and lack of professionalism just because it's the school's culture. Am I fooling myself in thinking it should be better? Am I just bucking the system?

With all the concerns about school security, how wise is it to have a culture where the classroom is no more than a bus station where people wander in and out without having to introduce themselves to the teacher in charge? Or where whoever is bored with their job description can make up their own rules (e.g. see my opening post)? Do the students get to create their own rules too?

As much as I enjoy working with the children, I have begun to wonder if I'm just fighting a losing battle. Yes, I can speak up, but if I'm the only one willing to speak, am I going to be labeled as nothing more than a trouble maker? Is the battle worth it given the low pay and poor treatment I've endured?

The schools desperately need good teachers (guest and full time), but until they start delving into the reasons why there's so much attrition and fixing what's wrong, nothing will improve. Sorry...just feeling glum these days.



Last edited by luv2teach2017; 02-27-2018 at 04:48 AM..
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Control issue
Old 02-28-2018, 06:21 PM
 
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The interpreter sounds like she is off her rocker. Whenever I have had a student teacher and a sub is coming in, I specifically wrote, "The student teacher is in charge, she will be doing all the lessons and classroom management. Please assist her as she asks."

Since there was no mention of the interpreter, it's obvious the teacher doesn't rely on her for anything. I'm not sure what I would have done. Sounds like you did a good job of covering your bases at the end of the day.

I think you could talk to the teacher and give her a head's up.
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Old 02-28-2018, 06:53 PM
 
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I’ve had ASL interpreters work with me before...honestly, they are often near the main teacher, but not within tripping distance. Their goal is to help the hearing impaired student focus on the the teacher as much as possible. That’s why they stay in the same general area.
The hearing impaired teacher we have had is a joy. She is happy to step in when needed but great at acknowledging “whose classroom” it is! The student has moved on, but she still does a brief presentation on ASL and Braille for me during the Helen Keller section of our biography unit.

I think you got a bad seed this time. I might reach out to the teacher and just let her know the students really were wonderful and that you’d like to come back again. Please don’t let one ridiculous person scare you away - if you do, she’ll think she won.
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Check with the teacher(s)
Old 03-01-2018, 07:07 PM
 
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Luv2teach2017,

Please let the main teacher know about the interpreter's behavior and animosity, and find out if she always behaves that way. And check with the other teachers, too, if you have a relationship with them (the three that the interpreter mentioned).

I wouldn't let a support person keep me from a school I enjoy subbing in without getting a little more information. Definitely take the others advice and check with the Special Ed Coordinator for that school, too.

You want to document everything so that your reputation is not affected by that bad experience.

Please hang in there!
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definitely off her rocker!
Old 03-03-2018, 09:38 AM
 
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You did so well handling this situation. Amazing story! Hope you get some validation and explanation. Just think KARMA!
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Thanks for all your support!
Old 03-03-2018, 04:24 PM
 
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Just want to thank those of you who have offered your support. I'm still feeling traumatized by that encounter. I'm beginning to feel that I'm walking through a field of land mines every time I take a subbing job. I need to feel that I have some recourse when I encounter situations like the one I described. The principal at that school clearly didn't want to address the interpreter's behavior. It left me feeling alone and discounted. I haven't given up entirely on the idea of consulting with the special ed supervisor (if there is one). I need to have closure about this somehow.
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