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luv2teach2017 luv2teach2017 is offline
 
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anonymous negative reviews (seriously?)
Old 02-18-2019, 09:03 AM
 
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I've seen a disturbing change in a district where I've been working. I'd like to hear from other posters here. Have you experienced anything like this? Do you have any insights or advice you can offer?

I've been working with this district for about a year and a half. The first 8 months were great. I enjoyed the schools and had good feedback from teachers, staff, and students. Once or twice when there was an issue, the principal discussed it with me in person, after class.

But then two changes happened. HR apparently hired a new analyst to oversee the guest teachers (no official announcement or information was ever given regarding her or her role). And the pay rate for subs was increased substantially.

After that, I suddenly started getting contacted by this analyst asking me to come to her office due to a "negative review". This happened 4 times within a 5 month period. I had no idea there was any kind of "review" process, and all except 1 review came as a complete surprise to me. Each "review was written on a "performance review" form; each came from a particular school regarding a class where there was a particularly unfriendly IA.

The disturbing thing was that the reviews made generalizations and statements that were ridiculous and completely false. (In one case, accusing me of making a racial slur towards a student and in another, accusing me of physically pushing a parent!) The reviews did not provide the name of the "accuser" (although I suspect it was the IA). The principals signed these even though the principal never met me or spoke with me about these accusations.

I spoke at length to the analyst and even spent hours writing up and submitting to HR my own responses, with very specific details. But none of it was taken into account. The analyst just blocked me from each school (over a single unverified complaint) and warned me to "learn to work with the IAs because the district has a hard time keeping IAs!"

I realize this sounds complicated, but my real concern is that these "reviews" were based on complete fabrications, not on anything close to facts. If there's something I'm doing wrong that needs to be corrected, I'm all too happy to hear it and correct it. But these "reviews" appear to be nothing more than mean spirited, defamatory attacks from a few disgruntled IAs.

Is this some effort to appease unhappy IAs? Hand them an anonymous "substitute teacher review form"? To me, it's like giving a loaded gun to someone having a bad day (or life) and letting them use subs for target practice!

Does anyone here have any similar experience or some insight or suggestions?


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Old 02-18-2019, 02:52 PM
 
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Unfortunately, with no union or contracts for subs, your options come with a risk.

It sounds like that you already sent your detailed concerns to HR, which would have been my first recommendation, and nothing was done.

The next risky step would be to contact the labor board. This is risky unless you are willing to give up working for the district unofficially.

The district is not allowed to discriminate against you for filing a complaint, however, the district might simply decide to stop offering you jobs because you could not prove they are blackballing you. You need to have a record of comparison for the past vs. the present in terms of jobs available for you in order to demonstrate possible retaliation. This is hard to prove though.

Do you have other districts you are working for? How many jobs is this district costing you?

Whether you contact the labor board would also depend on the financial impact.

I work for three districts, but only have a clean record in one. Ironically, I get the least number of job offers in the clean one.

In one district, you are banned from a school if the teacher complains about you formally.
It doesn't matter if it is your fault. If the teacher does not like you for whatever reason, you are gone. I have been banned from three schools, but since it does not stop job offers from coming in, I let it go.

In another district, I am banned from three of the nine elementary schools. I did not even know that I had been banned from these schools for years since I never checked my location list. It wasn't until they gave us a $25 raise last year that I paid attention.

What is troubling is that our sub tech is not allowed to add these schools back on for me, or to even tell me why I cannot go to these schools. I always had great days at these schools, so my banning is a mystery.

I wrote her this year to see if anything had changed, but she did not get back to me.

I have unusual learning disabilities and undiagnosed autism, so at times I might exhibit awkward movements or sounds of which I am not aware.

Maybe they are embarrassed to tell me why I can't go to these schools.

If it was too awful, I would not have lasted 21 years.

Since I work every day, I do not push it. However, if either district ever let me go, I would certainly contact the labor board if they did not give me satisfactory answers.
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Old 02-18-2019, 04:35 PM
 
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Thanks for your reply, Sirsubsalot. Wow...21 years? That's a long time. You've obviously survived and learned the ropes!

As for my situation, I already resigned from this district because it had become too stressful. I felt I was constantly walking on eggshells after these bogus "reviews" started happening. However, I believe I was set up and am not feeling at all right about it. I have been working exclusively for this district over the last year because I was getting plenty of jobs and the pay improved a lot. I took a big hit by quitting.

The negative reviews were NOT from teachers. I hadn't gotten a single complaint from a teacher! I believe all of these trumped up allegations came from IAs who have become hostile towards subs and were given the green light to file anonymous complaints. I also know that the HR analyst has not been honest with me. She's been constantly flip flopping, back peddling, and changing her stories. I don't know whether the labor board will help. However, I have done research and found that I can sue the district for defamation and retaliation.

It really troubles me that a school district's HR would accept unsubstantiated defamatory reviews from anonymous sources (hearsay) and then use that to take punitive action against a sub. It's not just irresponsible; using slanderous statements to jeopardize someone's employment and reputation is also downright illegal!
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Old 02-18-2019, 04:55 PM
 
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Do you have any idea what could be the source of animosity from the IAs? Other than having to carefully negotiate our roles to avoid stepping on toes, I have not experienced this attitude.
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Old 02-18-2019, 05:25 PM
 
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YayaSub...I don't know the history in this district. And it's not all IAs (some are awesome to work with).

In this district, there are no special ed classes per se. Instead, they hire IAs, requiring only a high school diploma, and don't provide training. Then they assign each IA to a particular special ed child and the IA must spend every day all day with that child in the regular classroom.

From my discussions with some IAs, they say it becomes very tedious very quickly. So IAs that do stick around (there's a lot of attrition) try to branch out and take on a larger role in the classroom. This is where the problem lies.

The IAs do not work under the teacher's supervision. They work under their own supervisor. So the teacher is not authorized to assign tasks to or oversee the IAs. Whenever I've subbed and there's an IA, it's best if the teacher leaves notes in the lesson plan about the IA's usual role (conducting small breakout groups or whatever). But too often, the teacher doesn't mention the IA at all.

Even worse, if the IA is a particularly aggressive kind of person, she may see the presence of a sub as an opportunity to dominate the classroom and the sub. I had one (long term) IA insist that she was "in charge of the classroom management" even though nothing was mentioned about that in the lesson plan.

At other times, I've seen IAs who are extremely unfriendly and rude from the moment I walk in the door. I always try to negotiate our respective roles to sort things out, but some IAs just tune me out (one even walked out on me). Some IAs will then proceed to shout out orders to the class, over my voice while I'm teaching, meanwhile neglecting the very child they were hired to work with.

I believe it's a combination of many issues. But the model for hiring and using IAs in this district clearly does not work. They have a huge turnover of IAs, and now I believe allowing IAs to issue anonymous complaints is just a poorly conceived attempt to placate disgruntled employees.


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Old 02-18-2019, 07:05 PM
 
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The reason I did not recommend to hire a lawyer was due to the expense. but if you can afford it, good for you.

If you already resigned, you have nothing to lose.

Subs should not be walked over.

I would go to the labor board first if the lawyer is too expensive.

If you can afford a lawyer, or if it costs little to sue, go for it.
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Well, since youíve resigned
Old 02-18-2019, 07:20 PM
 
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And donít need to fear retaliation, Iíd consult a lawyer, perhaps a labor lawyer. I do think you might have a slander case. Since principals signed as well as anonymous others all could be held liable individually and as agents for the district.
Iíd love to see the look on HR personís face getting a supena for your personnel records.

If you wish to work as a sub or teacher elsewhere, however, districts might be hesitant to hire someone who sued a district. Just a thought.
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Old 02-18-2019, 08:48 PM
 
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No I can't afford a lawyer. But some lawyers will take a case on a contingency basis. You can also sue for defamation in small claims court in this state.

As far as not getting sub jobs elsewhere...how would other districts know that I sued? Isn't that protected information?

I enjoy subbing, and I can always go elsewhere to sub. But after this experience, I'm feeling really skittish about it. Seems districts resort to some mighty unethical practices, and subs have no protections.

Last edited by luv2teach2017; 02-19-2019 at 10:30 AM..
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other districts
Old 02-19-2019, 02:31 PM
 
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could find out when they do a search of your name on the internet--I've seen names of people involved in law suits listed on a rather casual search. They would also ask for a reference from the place of your employment for the last one year+. I think the district might include that information in written or oral form.

You might call around and find a lawyer with a low cost initial consultation to see if you have a viable case. Contingency fees run one-third to forty percent plus expenses.
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Old 02-19-2019, 02:54 PM
 
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They would also ask for a reference from the place of your employment for the last one year+. I think the district might include that information in written or oral form.
In my state, employers won't provide a reference. They will only verify your dates of employment. I get my personal references from teachers I've subbed for. I see your point though. It's something to consider.

I've thought about making an appointment with the director of the district's HR to explain the situation. Do you think it would do any good?


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Old 02-19-2019, 08:27 PM
 
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Unfortunately,in cases like this, districts tend to circle the wagons, and you probably would not get too far with the head of HR.

A substitute teacher's perception of his or her value to the district is, based on personal experience, very different from the district's perception. I recently sat across from a district administrator who told me to my face that I wasn't even a "real" employee, this after subbing exclusively in the district for the last eleven years.

No question you have been defamed, but given your part time status and being the low man on the district totem pole to boot, I suspect it wpuld be difficult to find a lawyer to take your case. Not enough financial incentive of a big payout. You might start with the labor board. Explain what happened, and ask for an opinion on how to proceed.
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Old 02-20-2019, 05:00 AM
 
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I've been subbing for a long time, and have never seen a HR position like the one you've described. It seems as if she is trying to come up with stuff like this, true or not, to justify her position. As OneGreatSub pointed out, going to the head of HR is probably pointless. You could complain to the principal, but that person probably doesn't want to make waves. My guess is that this analyst will go too far at some point in the future and be out of a job, but until then, she'll do a lot of damage.

I think luv2teach2017's comments about IAs are exactly right. There's no doubt that it's a difficult and tedious job. Schools want to do whatever it takes to keep them happy.

Nobody mentioned it, but I'd talk to the president of the teachers' union. This person most likely won't be able to do anything for you, but in my experience, union leaders will usually listen to a sub's concerns. The last thing they want is a situation where teachers can't get subs because an overeager HR person is scaring them away.
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Old 02-20-2019, 07:45 AM
 
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When you sub you are only as good as the last day you subbed.

At the beginning of this school year I was blocked from a large elementary school in a growing district. What caused this? I allowed 4 students at dismissal time (who were doing the PP dance) to use the rest room just outside the classroom door at the same time. Classroom rules stated one student at a time.

As these were kindergarten students I wanted to avoid accidents. Remember this is at dismissal time. If an potty accident were to occur the child would sent to the nurses office, a change of clothes provided, bus missed, parents called to pick up their child. Allowing multiple children in the rest room seemed like an easy solution.

I suspect that the teacher next door saw this and reported it. More than 6 years of subbing at this school without incident meant nothing, I was blocked I assume for not following the classroom rules. The bad thing about this is I am no longer eligible for employment as a regular teacher in this district.
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loose cannon analyst
Old 02-20-2019, 08:27 AM
 
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c6g, you read my mind. I've worked in corporate, and this analyst reminds me of some over ambitious corporate types I've seen...out to "build an empire" no matter who they have to mow down.

Originally this district had a "Certificated Substitute Services" staff member who just took care of the administrative end . But she left, and suddenly this analyst appeared on the scene. She's been using tactics that frankly shock me (e.g., setting up a phone meeting with me, then sending an automatic voicemail accusing me of not answering the phone; meeting with me about reviews and lying to me about their actual content). She's a real piece of work. And you're right. She's becoming more and more outrageous. It's going to backfire, but not until she's done a lot more damage.

OneGreatSub: I don't trust HR either. You're right...they will probably just "circle the wagons." But I can't let it go. I believe the analyst launched this campaign after I insisted on receiving my state mandated sick leave pay (because Payroll was falsely claiming I wasn't eligible). After getting hit with these trumped up "negative reviews", I resigned because I could see she was racing to set me up for termination and that would impact my ability to renew my teaching permit.

I like the idea of talking to the teacher's union president and the labor board. (I can also sue in small claims court if I choose. ) It may not change my situation, but at least I will feel better if I expose what she's doing, and maybe I can help put this psychopath (which I think she is) out of commission!

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Be Cautious with Teacher's Aides
Old 02-20-2019, 05:53 PM
 
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With IAs or TAs, I behave slightly different around them. Years ago I had an IA tell on me and exaggerate about a situation,so I try my best not to be bossy or rude. Many are great help, but some can cause you trouble. You have no due
Process as a sub. You are assumed guilty when things go wrong.
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Old 02-20-2019, 07:08 PM
 
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McGarret...you are right. We do need to be cautious with IAs. Thanks for sharing your experience. What measures worked for you in dealing with this?

I do my best to be friendly and accommodating. The problem is that some IAs are downright unfriendly and rude from the start because some resent having a sub there. If I have 26 little kids to teach, I don't have time to deal with a resentful IA as well. Some are just looking for any reason to complain.

But I blame the district for inviting these anonymous unsubstantiated complaints. It's opening the door wide to tattling and slander.

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Focus and Ignore Rude Behavior
Old 02-21-2019, 08:47 PM
 
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I am amazed how some people are able to sub year after year. Eventually I moved on.

But, what's worked for me in the past as a sub is that I tried to follow the teacher's lesson as much as possible. I asked the TA questions to show that I welcomed his or her input.

I tried not to raise my voice at the kids, and I had rewards for behaved kids at the end of the day. I always left a thorough note for the regular teacher. I tried to ignore any rude behavior by an IA or TA.
I wasn't perfect, but I tried my best.

To be quite honest, when I had an annoying TA, I tried to go beyond and take care of most of the business at hand in the class, including some of the TA's duties. I asserted myself to cover everything as much as possible so the TA didn't have to do my job. I asked for their help if I needed it.

I didn't want to leave that class without putting in my best effort. Subs can't talk with the real teacher the next day to defend themselves if something went wrong.

All of the things I mentioned are easier said than done because of Murphy's Law. I am no longer subbing because I am working in Adult Education. I subbed about 4 years and taught full time in K-12 for twenty years.

Subbing is a rough deal at times. Many classes are great, but it is a given that you will have a class here and there that is difficult. There will be rude staff members from time to time, and I ignored it. I always had another job so I that I subbed only 2-3 times per week. Another job prevented sub burn out.

My other suggestion is to have a goal in mind that is outside of substitute teaching, such as another part time job or another career goal in education. I forgot what you wrote in your previous posts, so maybe you're doing this already.

Yeah, I knew deep down inside that I couldn't continue subbing because besides the low pay, you have to be extremely flexible. I need somewhat of a routine in a job.
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Old 02-22-2019, 11:52 AM
 
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To be quite honest, when I had an annoying TA, I tried to go beyond and take care of most of the business at hand in the class, including some of the TA's duties. I asserted myself to cover everything as much as possible so the TA didn't have to
Hmm...and this is exactly what backfired for me. A couple of IAs complained that I didn't let them do anything! The truth is that I just tried to do my job competently and left them to do theirs. Some IAs feel that subs should step aside and let them take charge.
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Old 02-22-2019, 12:36 PM
 
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Well unfortunately you've had some miserable IAs who will give a person trouble no matter what you do. Feel the situation out , and if they want to do more, then they can go for it. Some people try their best to give others a hard time. I couldn't last a long time in the subbing world. Too many things go wrong.
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:35 AM
 
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Some people try their best to give others a hard time. I couldn't last a long time in the subbing world. Too many things go wrong.
Yep...I agree. There are mean people and bullies everywhere. And unfortunately, as subs, we make an easy target because we have no protections. We can be blocked or terminated at any time without just cause.

I personally prefer not to have to tiptoe around an IA. I've recently subbed for some charter schools that don't have IAs. Sad to say, but it's amazing how much of a relief that was!

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Three types of IA
Old 02-24-2019, 12:56 AM
 
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First off, my title is incorrect. Meant four, not three. Oops.

Anyway, there are FOUR types of IA you will encounter:

1. The control freak: Takes over your job. Yells at students all period. Basically tells you "Do it this way, your way is not good." Let them take over if you don't want to deal with drama.

2. The helper: Kind and useful. A rare gift. "Let me know how I can assist you."

3. The invisible IA: On their cell phone all class. Not a threat, but they don't do much to assist. Can be mistaken as one of the students if they have a young appearance.

4. The no show: It'll say on lesson plans "Jane Doe will be there fifth period." No Jane Doe shows up fifth period.

Last edited by subasaurus; 02-24-2019 at 08:38 AM..
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Well said subsaurus!
Old 02-24-2019, 08:25 AM
 
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Your 4 types of IAs is spot on!

The "control freak" is a nightmare. They will also tattle on you and slander you so that you get blocked!
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@luv2teach
Old 02-24-2019, 08:46 AM
 
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Thanks.

Yeah, the tattlers are "Bitter Bettys." They hate to be "one-uped" or not needed.

Real talk for control freak IA's:

Hate to say this... But sometimes we just don't need you in the room. You're kind of in the way.

And, ironically, you're rarely present when we actually need your help!

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Old 02-24-2019, 09:44 AM
 
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Yeah, the tattlers are "Bitter Bettys." They hate to be "one-uped" or not needed.

Real talk for control freak IA's:

Hate to say this... But sometimes we just don't need you in the room. You're kind of in the way.

And, ironically, you're rarely present when we actually need your help!
Exactly! And one more thing: "Instead of trying to micromanage me, why not do your real job and attend to the special needs student you were assigned to?"
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Old 02-24-2019, 11:31 AM
 
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Bingo...

I was a 1:1 with a boy with special needs for a year.

Not ONCE did I ever boss a teacher or sub around. Like, NEVER.

I think a lot of these IA's just have prejudice against subs.

It's ridiculous and I don't understand it.
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Old 02-24-2019, 12:19 PM
 
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Let me preface this by saying that, although I teach full-time now, I subbed for many years while my children were younger. My question is this: What kind of district allows its assistants to formally review substitute teachers? The roles and responsibilities are not the same. Also, who has time to complete reviews in the first place, and who wants any type of complaints put into writing? We are asked to review substitutes, but I refuse to do it. I used to provide feedback, but when my district turned off my ability to see what subs said about my classroom, that was the end of that.
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Old 02-24-2019, 04:32 PM
 
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My question is this: What kind of district allows its assistants to formally review substitute teachers? The roles and responsibilities are not the same. Also, who has time to complete reviews in the first place, and who wants any type of complaints put into writing?
Great questions! I've been wondering the same thing. Why on earth is this district encouraging IAs to write damaging, fabricated reviews of subs??? And even worse, using those fabricated reviews to block or even terminate subs? It's not only insanely irresponsible and unjust, it's also begging to be sued!
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Old 02-27-2019, 07:28 AM
 
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Boy, this thread is disturbing. Our district is advertising for substitute teachers because they cannot get them to stay. I am also banned from some of the schools in the district. I do not care as they were impossible to work in anyway. I do have schools that are welcoming me back as they need people who know what they do and can manage a classroom.

My opinion is that trying to fight with any school district is not going to get you anywhere. They do "circle the wagons" and you have no standing in the district. The new analyst will fail miserably and the district will find this out eventually but they really don't care as long as "someone" else is doing some sort of rating system for them, (ridiculous!). All of us do the best we can do and that is all we can do.
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Old 02-27-2019, 08:13 PM
 
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I worked with a control freak IA for 3 years it was a nightmare
The helper is the best one
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luv2teach2017 luv2teach2017 is offline
 
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Old 02-28-2019, 07:29 AM
 
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Boy, this thread is disturbing. Our district is advertising for substitute teachers because they cannot get them to stay. I am also banned from some of the schools in the district. I do not care as they were impossible to work in anyway. I do have schools that are welcoming me back as they need people who know what they do and can manage a classroom.
That's been my experience too. I'm an experienced teacher and I know how to manage a class. Some teachers and schools put me on their preferred list and ask me back. Others make up outrageous false accusations to justify blocking me.

I believe it's a power struggle between schools and districts and has nothing to do with our competence.

I wonder if districts even want good subs. Seems districts do everything they can to set us up to fail. Is it possible the districts want to discourage teachers from taking time off?

It costs the district more money when subs are used. And I noticed teachers are reluctant to take time off if they feel the subs are incompetent. Anyone else have insights about this?

Last edited by luv2teach2017; 02-28-2019 at 08:55 AM..
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FWIW, it happens to Full time teachers too
Old 02-28-2019, 11:04 AM
 
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When I taught in another state as the lead teacher, mind you, I had 4 separate IAs that had been there for years. None had more than a HS diploma. They made my life a living hell. They had a pack mentality and the alpha dog was a BITCH!

They picked apart everything I did and said, every lesson, every schedule, every seating arrangement, and then gossiped about me all over the school and our small town telling lies. My stress level was higher than ever. I cried daily.

The questioning was petty and relentless. I don't mind answering honest questions. I know my stuff and can explain anything soundly. They were not looking for answers-they were looking to poke holes in me, my thoughts, my systems and self-confidence. They were backbiting, backstabbing shrews.

I had taught in my home state for 7 years without incident. I wasn't coming in without experience. It was so bad just before Christmas that I went to my principal and rage quit! He wouldn't let me quit in anger but he also seemed a little intimidated by them. I did eventually calm down and finished the school year on icy terms. I did not renew and eventually moved back to my home state.

My paras now are amazing. They are interested in learning and doing the best job ever for our students. They work with me, not against me. I will miss either one of them if they leave or change jobs.
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Old 03-01-2019, 01:04 PM
 
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When I taught in another state as the lead teacher, mind you, I had 4 separate IAs that had been there for years. None had more than a HS diploma. They made my life a living hell. They had a pack mentality and the alpha dog was a BITCH!

They picked apart everything I did and said, every lesson, every schedule, every seating arrangement, and then gossiped about me all over the school and our small town telling lies. My stress level was higher than ever. I cried daily.
Wow! You deserve a medal for enduring that! It's the kind of toxic garbage I dealt with...entrenched long-term IAs who lacked both education and professional ethics. People like this create a hostile workplace and drive out good subs and teachers. It's a petty, small minded, mentality of ignorance operating in what should be a white collar, professional work environment of educators. What kind of values and ethics are these people modeling for the children?????
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