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Angelo Angelo is offline
 
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Angelo
 
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Passive-Aggressive or Skeptical Admin
Old 08-26-2017, 11:16 AM
 
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I had an impromptu get-together with some old teacher friends of mine. We used to all work at the same school in our first year of teaching, but are all now at different schools.

One friend is still at the same school after all this time. There was an AP at the school when we all taught there. She got transferred out, then apparently came back last year as P. I'm really glad I don't have to work with her as she was not the most teacher-friendly or supportive admin in the world when she was an AP. She was very ambitious and was known to play politics at the expense of teachers if it suited her purposes. Some of the stories my friend is telling us about how she runs the school and deals with students, parents, teachers, and other staff are entirely unsurprising.

In any case, I couldn't think of an objective term for this type of admin, but I think many of case relate to dealing with them at one time or another.

One of the most infuriating things these Admins do is claiming to support their teachers while actually doing/saying the opposite.

This is the common pattern of the passive-aggressive Admin:

1. Kid gets in trouble with teacher for X, Y, or Z or simply dislikes teacher for whatever reason.
2. Kid rushes home, turns on the waterworks for mom, and spins a yarn that Teacher was mean or did some reprehensible thing to him or her.
3. Mom immediately believes Kid and places angry call to Admin.
4. Admin calls in Teacher for a chat, confronts Teacher with Kid's story as relayed by Mom.
5. Teacher: Nope. Didn't happen. Maybe provides a more accurate account of recent events.
6. Admin: Okay, that makes sense. Thanks for straightening that out.
7. Just as Teacher's hand is on the doorknob to leave, Admin says, "Listen... can I just give you some advice for next time?"
8. Admin's "advice" seems to presuppose that whatever else he/she may have just said, he/she actually doesn't believe the teacher and/or partially continues to believe the parent's story.

For example:

Admin: Johnny's mom says you use a lot of sarcasm.
Teacher: I don't use sarcasm in the classroom. Johnny's mom is mistaken.
Admin: Okay, I just had to check.
Teacher: Okay, thanks for checking in.
Admin: Can I just offer you some advice? Kids have a much thinner skin for sarcasm than grown-ups. When we're sarcastic with kids, they have a much harder time processing it.

Wait... So teacher said he wasn't sarcastic. You accepted that. Then you proceeded to give advice about avoiding sarcasm. So clearly you DIDN'T believe the teacher.

9. Teacher clearly realizes the Admin doesn't really believe him or her and so continues to defend himself or herself against the unfair allegations / criticism.
10. Admin blinks in surprise and acts confused as to why the teacher is continuing to defend himself/herself. "I told you... I believe you. It's over. Let's move on."
11. Teacher objects: "But if you believe me, why are you giving me advice as though you believe the student?"
12. Admin says something evasive: "It's just general advice... It's always good to reflect on our own practice..." Or Admin says something non-committal: "It's not that I don't believe you... I do... It just seems strange to me that a kid would just make up something like that out of whole cloth..." (It does? Have you even met some of these kids? A few of them lie ALL THE TIME and are more than capable of inventing a story to get what they want!) Or Admin says something to the effect of, "Well, I don't really believe you, but I was trying to let you save face by letting it go. But since you insist on pursuing this, I'm now going to investigate you and your teaching." (Most Admins won't actually SAY this in so many words...) Or Admin pulls a Donald Trump and says something along the lines of "There was fault on many sides" as though to suggest that neither teacher nor the student is being honest, and that the truth is somewhere "in the middle" (Admins who seem to place equal weight on the word of a troubled adolescent / angry parent as though do on the word of their teaching colleagues are VERY dangerous to work with, IMHO).

The Admin I referenced in the first part of the post used to confront colleagues with their "reputation" as communicated by parents and students. "You have a reputation for being a harsh marker." Or "You have a reputation for raising your voice a lot." OR "You have a reputation for sarcasm." One of my colleagues responded to one of these "You have a reputation for..." statements by saying, "You shouldn't believe everything you hear, and you should probably consider the source." She came back at him with, "Even a myth or legend usually has some basis in reality, don't you think?"

It's like a hard enquiry on your credit report. Admin SAYS they believe you while subsequently giving some indication that they really don't. Even if there is no further discussion of the matter, you get the impression that they are mentally giving you a "hit" on your credit score (even if it's not recorded anywhere) and that they are mentally tucking it away for future reference.


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Old 08-26-2017, 06:58 PM
 
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I think if you have a gut feeling your admin is doubting you, or not on your side, you're probably right. Trust your gut!
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Admin types
Old 08-26-2017, 09:31 PM
 
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Admin who talk endlessly about how well they support their teachers are almost always all talk and no action. Admin who really do support their teachers don't need to say a word about it.....their appreciative teachers say it all for them.

Your descriptions/dialogues of passive aggressive admin are spot on!
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Did you talk to the teacher?
Old 08-27-2017, 03:27 AM
 
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I have not been teaching long, but is the concept of a principal automatically requesting the parent talk to the teacher first about concerns an urban myth?

My previous school was horrible about this.

Some veteran teachers stuck their neck out and gave public feedback to administration about wanting them to refer parent complaints to the teacher first.

Administration said they did not understand why they should do this.
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Old 08-27-2017, 05:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Some veteran teachers stuck their neck out and gave public feedback to administration about wanting them to refer parent complaints to the teacher first.

Administration said they did not understand why they should do this.
Maybe if all the teachers went to the superintendent about their complaints before addressing it with the principal they would get it.

Our principal is a little bad about this. Whenever she gets contacted by parents I think she subconsciously thinks the teacher has done something wrong. Or she is irritated that she has to deal with the problem parents. She will usually direct parents back to the teacher, but she often can't help herself with a little unwarranted advice.


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Old 08-27-2017, 06:36 AM
 
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Hah!

It is funny that you say that about jumping the line to the super.

Several teachers did do that a lot at that school.
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Oh my!
Old 08-27-2017, 08:48 AM
 
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Angelo, I do believe that I am working for the admin you're talking about!

It's incredibly frustrating--and depressing--to have a P that won't have your back. Having had worked with some fantastic admins in the past, I can truly appreciate the situation. It can feel like walking on eggshells all day because who knows what a kid might go home and say to a trigger happy parent.

I'm fortunate to work with some outstanding teachers that I know I can go to for advice this year. I know that I can't take any concerns to my P or I'm going to get the side-eye and face 20 questions of what it is about my own actions that are causing the issue.

Best of luck to you and your friend this year.
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Angelo Angelo is offline
 
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Yes
Old 08-27-2017, 07:29 PM
 
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I've had the opposite experience. I dealt with so many turkey admins when I worked for the district, I thought it was a job requirement.

Then I went private, and whatever other issues we have to deal with, admin throwing teachers under the bus isn't one of them.

I do think a lot of Admins find that telling a complaining parent, "I'll speak to the teacher about this..." is a quick and painless way to end a conversation. It's easier to give the vague insinuation that the parent "got the teacher in trouble" than it is to defend the teacher and thereby drag out the exchange. The trouble is that it's absolutely (from a moral perspective) the coward's way out.
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