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Some substitute secretaries are a little cocky...
Old 01-19-2019, 08:37 PM
 
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Ok...This is probably going to come off as sounding condescending to some degree, but hereís my observation...
I have noticed that most of the substitute teachers I work with are either certified teachers or individuals who in fact have some type of bachelors degree.
The substitute secretaries in our district usually have never been to college and the position only requires a GED; however we answer to these people. Itís awkward at best, and very difficult when we are faced with a bit of a power trip and nasty rudeness.(as though thereís a different kind of rude...lol)
Honestly, if the sub secretaries are professional and friendly, I couldnít care less about this hierarchical issue;lbut some of these guys and gals are rude beyond belief. I just donít understand it. You would think that the fact that we are paid so little, theyíd really go out of the way for subs with a high ranking in AESOP; but some really have very little respect for anyone thatís not a full time teacher.
Itís in these instances when you take a closer look at these individuals and the position itself only to discover lower requirements for the sub secretary as compared to a substitute teacher. One starts to wonder if youíre dealing with major insecurity or a serious attitude due to a power trip.
Itís so bad at some schools that the sub secretaries are shewing the substitute paras and teachers out of break rooms and warning them that they must get permission to leave the building to go to their cars at lunch.
Anyone else having an issue with this?
In our district, the substitute secretary answers to a substitute supervisor who is two positions up from a sub, and is only required to possess a GED, yet that person has the power to fire subs from not only individual schools, but also the district. Any thoughts?


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Old 01-20-2019, 07:40 AM
 
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I havenít experienced anything like this. But I have experienced the secretaries who wonít speak to subs.

At one middle school (new to me this year) I enter the building and tell the secretary at the first two security doors that Iím here to sub, she points to the door as it buzzes. I tell the second secretary Iím here to sub and ask where the sign in sheet is, she points to the corner of the office where two other subs are standing. I sign in and want to enter the school and ask the third secretary where I go, she points down a hallway with a door at the end. I go there, door buzzes and I go though.

The secretaries (3) had no trouble talking on the phone so it wasnít a case of them having laryngitis. The principal finally approached me the week before Christmas and asked why I didnít have a sub badge, I told her I had no idea where they were and shared that since no one talks to me in the office I assumed that there were no badges. It turns out the badges are in a box, in a cabinet above where subs sign in.

This school is very different from the others in the district; there subs are greeted, sign in sheet is on the front counter with badges and folders of information about the school and classroom.
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pecking order factor
Old 01-20-2019, 08:41 AM
 
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I usually find the secretaries are the friendliest and most helpful people. In my experience, the secretaries always welcome me to use the staff room facilities (I rarely use the staff room, but it's nice to feel welcome). The secretaries are the school's "welcoming committee." So it's really unfortunate that you encountered the opposite treatment from school secretaries. It may be a toxic school culture. If so, you can choose to avoid the school in the future.

That said, I have experienced what I'd say is a "pecking order" mentality at many (elementary) schools, especially among the lesser paid, lesser educated staff (e.g. IAs and yard/cafeteria duty staff). I have received a lot of rudeness from some of those folks. I do think it's because people who feel like the underdog can be inclined to cut off others' heads to make themselves feel taller. Guest teachers simply make easy targets. We are essentially the "new kid on the block."

Unfortunately, we guest teachers are at the bottom of the district and school food chain in terms of influence/power. It has nothing to do with who has more education or credentials (or even more pay). A lot of it is because most of us move from class to class, school to school, and never really get to establish ourselves at any one place. Human beings are social animals who naturally form cliques and pecking orders wherever they are. It's just a fact of life, not just in schools, but in ANY group, workplace, or organization.

Sadly, some folks are also inclined to vent their frustrations by abusing and bullying others, and they pick on victims they perceive to be weaker and more powerless than themselves. It happens among children in the school yard, and it happens among adults in the work place as well.

I'd say mistreatment from other adults is my number 1 complaint about this job. I'm still struggling to find good coping strategies so that I don't let it get to me too much. Each situation is different, but in general, I'd say consider the source. Any district staff member who'd mistreat a fellow staff member for ANY reason is behaving unprofessionally and inappropriately. The abuser may be in a position of authority, be having a bad day, be stressed, be ill, or
just plain mentally/emotionally unbalanced, but it still doesn't excuse them for abusing others.

As a guest teacher, I have little say or control over who I have to work with. However, I believe it's my job, as an educated professional, to walk my own talk and behave as professionally as possible, keeping a cool head. (Dealing with adults is a lot like dealing with the children.) If I feel attacked or abused, I try not to react. Instead, I take a moment (or a few) to breathe, get centered, and collect myself. I consider my options. Then if there's something I need to do (or not do) about the situation, either then or later, (speak to the person, report it, block the school, etc.), I can respond calmly, knowing I've made my best choice.

Last edited by luv2teach2017; 01-20-2019 at 12:14 PM..
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Old 01-20-2019, 09:20 AM
 
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We don't have any such thing as a sub secretary. The regular secretary is the one who deal with paperwork for the subs. Anytime there is a new sub, they are the ones who tell them what the protocol is for subs in our building. The ones I had to deal with were always nice. They did not have the power to fire anyone from anything.

An administrator can request that a sub doesn't work in our building, but that request goes to the district sub coordinator, not the secretary. I'm not sure what kind of educational level that person has, but education level doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how well someone does his/her job.

Some people, however, do have issues with letting a little power go to their heads. That can come with any job.
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Old 01-20-2019, 11:33 AM
 
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Thanks, I really appreciate all of the responses and I do agree with much of what you guys have mentioned.
I really do think that it does depend on the school.
Some of these substitute secretaries are absolutely lovely and very friendly and couldnít be more helpful. It only takes two or three really negative people to ruin the whole process of substitute teaching at different schools.
I really think there is a culture of displaying power and putting subs in their place in the district where I work; and now that some of these individuals see that Iím not going anywhere, so most of the ridiculous behavior has stopped.
When I share my views on this with some of the other guest teachers, they totally agree with what I have experienced. Many will sub only once in a school and never return to that school of they experience not being wanted at that school.
I think there is a lot of insecurity that stems from some of these individuals. I also believe that there is a culture of smaller town community.
There has been this tendency of running off subs based on a few different categories...
The first one is not being from the area, or not having grown up or gone to school in that district. The second one is not having children attending school in the district. The last criteria deals with not being certified to teach whether you do or do not possess a degree.
The reason I know this is because when I first started subbing in the district...every elementary school along with some of the high schools would ask me these three questions...
Do you have children in the school district? Are you from this area or did you attend school here? ...and of course the last oneÖ Are you certified?
Maybe there have been bad experiences that the district has suffered from ďoutsidersĒ or could be they are trying to limit the number of subs working in each school in order to insure that the majority of jobs are secured for subs that are part of the community. Itís really odd to me. Iím not sure what the reason would be.


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Wrong angle
Old 01-20-2019, 05:46 PM
 
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I am a credentialed teacher with 20 years of full-time teaching experience and four years of sub experience, and I believe your angle/approach to this topic is incorrect. It does not matter what the educational level is of the person that we are dealing with, what matters is that we treat each other with respect and dignity.
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Old 01-20-2019, 06:13 PM
 
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So sorry CC96 that you are so offended, but Iíll never apologize for bringing this issue to light.
I posted knowing that it might ruffle some feathers, but that was not my intention. I do however, believe in being very honest to make a point in regards to mutual respect; and I believe in being direct and not pulling any punches in the process.
Weíre all adults here. As Iíve said above, this would not even be an issue if most, of not all substitute secretaries and coordinators were above aboard and unfortunately many times theyíre not.
Itís horrible when I see young and very attractive subs as well as unassumingly good hearted people get run off by an over bearing personality who expresses entitlement and speaks down to individuals who just happen to be better educated than they are.
You obviously have not experienced this,or maybe you donít have a problem with it, which is fine. Iím happy for you in worthier case.
The angle is not meant to rest primarily on educational background, but more to point out how ridiculously self important some of these people are and thereís not much to back that up.
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Old 01-20-2019, 09:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Many will sub only once in a school and never return to that school of they experience not being wanted at that school.
I think there is a lot of insecurity that stems from some of these individuals. I also believe that there is a culture of smaller town community.
I agree that schools are like small towns, sometimes complete with surprisingly provincial attitudes. As a guest teacher, I am regarded as an outsider. I have to be mindful of that fact every time I set foot on a campus.
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Old 01-21-2019, 09:37 AM
 
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I totally agree with what youíve stated about being mindful of being an outsider luv2teach2017.
Iíve learned to really keep to myself and maintain a low profile. If someone starts asking questions that are too personal, Iíve learned to politely deflect and watch away.
It also helps to have your top three or four campuses and rotate between them. In this way, you avoid potential issues with awkward interactions. We are never entirely on their team and there has to be clearly drawn boundaries that we establish.
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Education
Old 01-21-2019, 02:21 PM
 
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The amount of education is not really an issue. Often, people don't like, understand, or feel comfortable with people they don't know. Subs aren't part
of the regular click or group in a school, so you have odd behavior going on. People in general don't like to be out of their comfort zones, and meeting and doing business with new people is irregular.

I just got a new job teaching adults , and I am glad not to be subbing anymore. Some office secretaries can be rude while others were accommodating during my subbing days. One secretary I experienced would never look at me as she was talking to me. Very
petty behavior.


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I have seen this behavior
Old 01-22-2019, 07:22 AM
 
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From school secretaries before, but not from all of them.

I donít think it has anything to do with schooling but more with their position or, even more so, their personality. If the school already has a toxic environment, front office personnel will be hostile. But more often than not, I have found the secretaries or sub contacts to be friendly and helpful.

That said, let me tell you a similar experience I had years ago at an elementary school,

I show up early to familiarize myself with the school, make notes or memorize the sub plans, and find a bathroom (so important at my age. Lol). I had worked at this school once before and this was a return request. Apparently when I had been there before, the regular Sub coordinator was out. This time, I got the woman in charge of subs.

It was a cold day and I had to be buzzed in because the door was locked. When I hit the button to be buzzed in, the secretary got on the intercom and asked why I was there. I responded that I am subbing for so and so, to which she responded that I was early and would have to wait.

Outside.

In the cold.

I was flabbergasted. I just stood there and waited a minute and either she or someone else buzzed me in.

I made my way to the front office and greeted her warmly, to which I was told Iíd have to wait. Have a seat. Fifteen minutes I waited. I wasnít even that early. I ask about my room number so maybe I can go there and get started and she yells at me. She says sheís feeling attacked. Seriously it was the word she used. I apologized and explained I just wanted to get the plans so I can get started on the day. I HATE not being ready before the kids show up no matter what grade. She continues to berate me but finally tells me which room Iím in.

Not a great start to the day and now Iím behind schedule and feeling flustered.

At the end of the day, the teacher I was in for texts me and asks how my day went. I tell her how great the kids were but include that I doubt Iíll be asked back because I got on the wrong side of the office secretary. She calls me and explains that the woman who spoke to me is set to retire in a week, no one likes her, and the school principal who was very nice to me has been trying to get rid of her for the past year. (He was new to the building.). I felt so relieved.

It wasnít me. It was her.

So take heart. Itís not you, itís them. Do your job. Ask questions. Donít assume. Repeat if necessary.
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After 11 subbing years, I'm still
Old 01-23-2019, 10:59 AM
 
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not entirely comfortable with my lowly place in the pecking order. Schools are like small towns. The office staff are the city council. They run the show. Subs are guests in the town. Some small towns are friendly and welcoming to guests. City officials in those towns want their town to be seen in the best light, and they show guests around and make them feel welcome. Other small towns are distrustful of strangers and close minded. They view outsiders with suspicion and are disdainful of visitors. I've encountered both types of towns/schools, and obviously prefer to be welcomed and treated warmly. But I always have to remember that I am not a resident, just a visitor and always an outsider. It's tough because my daughter attended these schools, I volunteered for years in her classrooms, I know many on the staff.....and yet, as a sub, I'm still not a member of the club. I recently had a meeting with a district official who looked me in the eye and told me subs aren't "real" employees. I was so tempted to come back at her with, "You'd realize how real we are if we went on strike and decided not to show up." It's that kind of attitude that we're too often up against. I know we are at different stages of our careers and subbing for different reasons, but I hope we all hold our heads high, do the best job we can, and remember that ultimately we're there for the kids and just have to try to ignore the sometimes entitled, snotty adults we encounter along the way.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:19 PM
 
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I have been fortunate not to encounter many rude secretaries at the schools, but in most cases, it is the office manager we deal with.

The ones that bother me the most are those who will not take the time make us our own bathroom key.

A few of the lounges have no men's room, so we have to hope the key is hanging on the wall by the office door for the outside men's rooms.
At one school, the key went missing for two weeks, and I had to borrow keys from other teachers or the office manager.

On a more positive note, there is one great office manager, who is unfortunately not at one of the better schools. I explained to her how I got cheated out of 25 dollars the day before at another school.
She was so grateful to see me that she added 20% to my time sheet, although I did not work the extra period.

I lost 20% the day before because I got the job late at 8:50 AM , and called to confirm that the job still existed. Even though this is a huge high school with a bunch of administrators, no live voice picked up the phone. The automated voice just kept looping and telling me to dial the extension I needed. Dialing 0 did not work. How are outside callers supposed to know the extensions?

When I got to the school they said it was an 80% day. Had a live voice told me this over the phone, I would have chosen one of the other five jobs.
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