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HyruleHero HyruleHero is offline
 
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Former principal gives bad reference to first year teacher
Old 08-15-2017, 12:43 PM
 
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Hello, all!

I am applying for a new job, and my former principal has been saying some not very nice things about me. Let me explain.

I am a lateral entry high school English teacher. I only started teaching in October with no student teaching experience. I love my job, despite the many problems I had through the year. I was moved from an 11th grade classroom to a trailer with 9th grade English and electives. I didn't have a teaching mentor until January. It was a very rough year, but I learned from it and took several education classes over the summer.

My old school said I would have to reapply for my position because I was on an interim contract. I was ready to do that when the principal said HR sent over someone form my job. A month later, the school posted an opening for an English teacher position with a reading certification. I asked about it, saying I would be willing to take the necessary classes to get the certification. The principal dismissed me, saying there was someone with 14 years of experience applying and that I would not get the job. Another English teaching position was available a month later, so I called the principal. I was feeling a bit like I was purposefully being driven out from the school.

I asked her if I could apply, and she said she already had enough interviews lined up, and she chose not to renew my contract for a reason! My contract was non-renewable; as I said, I would have had to reapply. I called her out on that, and said that wasn't what she told me originally. After some discussion, she told me that I have creative lesson plans, but my classroom management was so poor that I could never get to the lessons. She said I didn't connect with the kids and nearly had a racial war in my classroom. She has been telling anyone who calls about me this story.

Some of that is true. I did have a bullying situation that became more tense because it involved two black girls versus two white girls. The class started taking sides, and I rushed to intervene with parent calls, talks with students in private, and team-building exercises in class. My pleas for help to the administration were ignored. The situation calmed down and then arose again right before the end of the school year. The principal had to get involved, but did not make an effort to include me in the mediation. I did my best, but I didn't have a lot of support.

I have interviewed with four different districts. I have had several excellent interviews that went wonderfully, and then I am told I didn't get the job. I assume it is because of the former principal. I have told people at interviews what they might hear from her, and that it is a limited view of my time as a teacher. I described situations in which I helped suicidal students, bought students groceries, and helped them academically. I have described my plans to improve classroom management. My resume includes good references from my mentor teacher, my school's EC teacher, and the HR director for the schools. I STILL CAN'T GET HIRED!

I called HR, and they told me they can't do anything about what a principal says about a teacher. This principal bad-mouthed my mentor and prevented her from getting a job at another school. She also went to HR and was told that the principal's opinion was paramount in hiring decisions. I fear I am in the same boat as my mentor. She is lucky enough to have a contract though, so she is employed.

When I interview, I am upfront and honest about the situation, and describe many positives about myself. I have other excellent references, a plan to improve next year, and a passion that is more than evident during my interviews. I have a 4.0 GPA from my college education courses, a 186/200 on my Praxis tests, and my full license will be awarded pending a review from the state. But these schools are required to speak to my principal, which is what I think is hindering me.

What can I do about this situation?


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Old 08-16-2017, 11:01 AM
 
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Honestly, there's not much you can do. Since you never formally student taught and discipline is a weakness I would consider subbing for a year. I subbed and it's the reason my discipline is so rock solid. On top of helping to tighten up your classroom management it would enable you to branch out and make other contacts so you wouldn't have to use this principal as a reference in the future.

Good luck.
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HyruleHero HyruleHero is offline
 
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Old 08-16-2017, 11:44 AM
 
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Thank you. It seems like subs are always needed. I do know some people who have done extended sub jobs that turned into permanent positions.

It's just unfortunate for me because subbing is not a full-time position. I will fill out the application for it though.

Thank you for the advice.
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There's not much
Old 08-16-2017, 05:22 PM
 
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There's not much that you can do at this point if the principal won't reference you. I had several excellent interviews myself in a new state and I didn't get the job even with seven years experience. In my opinion, there will be some administrators that refuse to budge.

I think what should be done and I know it's not, is that when future admins call to check your references, they should just say yes you worked here from such and such a time. How you managed a class is in the past and not indicative of how you will be in the future.

*sighs* Wishful thinking I know...hang in there.
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Union rep?
Old 08-27-2017, 07:02 PM
 
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Are you part of a union? Can you call your rep?


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Old 08-28-2017, 05:06 AM
 
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You could go to a lawyer and have them mail the principal a letter. It may intimidate him enough to stop saying anything about you.
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Old 08-28-2017, 05:43 PM
 
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Thank you all for your advice. I'm happy to say I have been hired at a middle school.

The first opportunity I had during my interview, I told them about what my former principal would say (I did squeeze in her one compliment, that I make creative lesson plans), and defended myself before they could ask about it. I explained in detail my plans to improve my work and what I have done over the summer to improve myself. I showed my strengths, and they hired me on the spot! They didn't want to talk to my former principal at all, but HR had to call as a formality.

I guess honesty and persistence paid off.
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Yay!
Old 08-29-2017, 06:36 PM
 
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Congratulations! Have wonderful year!
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