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Old 10-31-2020, 09:13 AM
 
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Several parents of the Virtual group complained about me to the Principal, Superintendent, and the BOE.
They said I was yelling. (See previous post "Virtual Woes")
They called me a Bully.

I now have an Official Letter of Reprimand.

Any whisper of negativity about me for the rest of the year and I will be put on a Corrective Action Plan.

I am scared to teach.

I am scared to even talk to the Virtual kids.

I feel like dog poop on the bottom of someone's shoe.

Meeting with parents to apologize.

Not sure how to move forward doing lessons.

Any suggestions would be most helpful.

Also, not sure how to move forward with life when this black cloud is over me.

Devastated.


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Old 10-31-2020, 09:52 AM
 
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I am sorry. So, so, sorry.

My thoughts- sometimes when (speaking from my online experiences) when I am doing things that are pushing the students to try new things/expand their skills, etc, I am or get stressed during a lesson more than usual. When I am already stressed my anxiety amps up even easier- and sometimes that can come across as yelling, etc. So the answer? When I am already stressed, I don't try new things. I don't do things that aren't easy for the kids. May not be the most exciting, but every one is successful and I compliment those successes.

I would do lessons you are very comfortable with, and aren't asking too much of students at home. Maybe use some fun chants/movements/etc for engagement, but otherwise keep it simple. You do library, right? Can you just read books and do some simple activities that go with them? Art and music are fun, so make the activities fun art to compliment the books.

Get passed this. You will survive. You can do this!
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Old 10-31-2020, 09:57 AM
 
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Iím so sorry that you are having this experience. If I remember correctly, you are a specials teacher which means that you may not have established yourself with these students as a group because of the nature of virtual teaching. Add to that the scrutiny of anyone listening in from so many households and they also do not have the relationship.

I know from past posts that you are very compassionate about your successes.

Take a deep breath.
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So sorry
Old 10-31-2020, 10:28 AM
 
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((((((HUGS)))))))

These types of things are hard and teaching is not for the faint of heart. I am really sorry this is happening to you. I know how it feels to be worried about getting more complaints, especially when you know those complaints are not true. Sending hugs, prayers, and positive thoughts your way.

FWIW, here is some advice.

1. Can you record your live sessions, so if there is a complaint, you have proof?
2. Can you pre-record your lessons and have them upper students to view at any time? That way, you can have better control over your tone, voice, etc. You can be more conscious of it, refillm or edit if need be, etc.
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Old 10-31-2020, 10:53 AM
 
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You teach Art, correct?

I am unsure if you are doing hybrid teaching? Please share that info, as that will help us help you.

I like the idea of ONLY doing lessons that all can be successful with at home and that aren't going to stress you out.

Honestly, I'd give 100% of my attention to the in class learners and let the online learners put as much (or little, or nothing) into it as THEY see fit. It sounds like maybe they aren't fully invested in the lessons, and you are (obviously) more so than they are. Hence your wanting them to pay attention, efforts towards that end, etc.

Really focus on and praise those at home who are participating, etc. Ignore the others. I had the option of muting kids who were making noises, etc., so if you have that option do so. I wouldn't even tell them I was muting them. I'd just do it and carry on.

I also like the idea of prerecorded lessons!! Is that an option?

I'm sorry it has come to this! Hybrid stinks worse than fully 100% online or fully 100% in person!


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Unfortunately,
Old 10-31-2020, 12:00 PM
 
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Iíve seen things like this happen a few times. People in charge know that whatever the teacher is accused of isnít true, yet rather than try to explain the misunderstanding, they take the easy way out and just punish (and humiliate) the teacher. This, of course, sends the message that the teacher is unprofessional and inept, which just chums the water for the sharks, thereby making it impossible to have any standards in your classroom (because they know you donít have any political support).

However, Iíve seen people seriously reprimanded under totally bogus pretenses who stick around for a few years, and eventually nobody even remembers the situation that was such a big scandal. If you just ride it out and donít acknowledge it, it eventually might go away.
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Old 10-31-2020, 12:39 PM
 
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I'm so sorry. That sounds miserable. Based on your posts, this reaction from your administration seems extreme. I agree with the poster who said virtual kids could just turn their volume down! I also agree with sticking with projects that are focused on those in class and easy to do for those at home.

I would also invite the admin in to watch you teach so they get a good idea of what is actually happening. They should do an "investigation" instead of just taking the word of these parents.
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Is there a union?
Old 10-31-2020, 12:51 PM
 
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I would not accept a letter of reprimand if you feel it doesnít portray what happened accurately. If the administrator did not directly observe what happened, why are they taking the parents side? At the very last, you should be able to write a rebuttal to the letter. If this a never been addressed with you before, a letter in your file sounds extreme to me.

As for an apology, it s difficult to apologize for something you did not do. If your voice is naturally loud, or the mask makes speaking louder necessary, you can address that. I would also explain it was not your intent to appear to be yelling, and ask for clarification if needed.

I can only imagine how hard it is to control student behavior over a computer. Not sure of their ages, but I would make sure they understand the rules and mute anyone making excessive noise after warning them.
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Tea and Sympathy
Old 10-31-2020, 12:54 PM
 
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I am so sorry. This is an extreme reaction to what seemed like a simple misunderstanding. Is your administration usually so heavy-handed? If so, Iíd be looking for the first ticket out of Crazytown. If not, it may be worth sticking it out with your head held high. As others have said, this happens to teachers and it can be overcome if the school climate is otherwise okay.
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Old 10-31-2020, 02:31 PM
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Union rep
Old 10-31-2020, 02:33 PM
 
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I would contact your union rep right away. In the meantime, could a para participate in your virtual classes? This would ease some of your worries. This is such a difficult time -


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Old 10-31-2020, 02:39 PM
 
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Does your HR dept know that you have a hearing loss? If you talk louder because of a hearing loss then that shouldn't be cause for a reprimand. I'm sorry that you have to go through this.
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When
Old 10-31-2020, 03:18 PM
 
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You teach next, make sure and smile, tell a corny joke and have fun. That way even if you are kind of loud, your tone wonít be stern.
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Old 10-31-2020, 04:28 PM
 
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I would meet with the parents to ask questions "I'm sorry you feel this way" does not accept blame but does open up conversation. I know from your past posts that you are a very understanding and loving teacher. Without accepting blame relay the message that you will work on your tone and thank them for the advice.

The district admin should have your back and I am sorry that they do not. I would definitely write a rebuttal to anything written up and put in your file. Play the game. The game these days is to get rid of teachers who are expensive. If you have a union insist that they follow through with demanding proof of your bullying and yelling. Get a doctor's note in your file outlining your hearing loss. Threaten the district with a lawsuit regarding your hearing loss and their lack of understanding regarding your disability.
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Old 10-31-2020, 05:01 PM
 
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A number of years ago, I made a mistake in handling a situation. I was called in with my union rep, was reprimanded, had to do lessons to remediate, and send home a written apology. A student was on vacation and had no involvement and I had to apologize to her. I felt like I was a horrible person and felt lower than low. I was threatened with loss of increment for the next year. The situation was blown out of proportion. So I truly know how you feel!

Hold your head up, go back and do your best. As much as you may not want to, smile and be positive. It was hard to go back into the classroom. Hard to see parents at conferences and on a field trip.

But I did. I was lucky that the principal left and a year later the superintendent moved on. I was Teacher of the Year for the district three years later. I tell you that not to brag but to tell you that there is life after a reprimand.

You can do this.
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When it happened to me
Old 10-31-2020, 05:45 PM
 
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I was told I could write a response to the reprimand letter to also be placed in my file. I had Union support, and they had the legal expert read my letter before I sent it. It didnt change that the reprimand letter is in my file, or that I was on a teacher improvement plan for a year after, but I felt better and it helped me move past it knowing anyone able to see my file in the future will see my response in writing attached to it. My situation boiled down to a Principal always sided with parents and it was easier to punish me than sort out the truth. It was a horrible time in my teaching career, but it probably helped make me a better teacher. It also helped once those students moved on and the administrator went to a different school.
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So Sorry!!!
Old 10-31-2020, 06:36 PM
 
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1. Most definitely get a medical statement about your hearing loss and give copies to HR and also to your principal. When apologizing to the parents, be sure to mention hearing loss as a factor affecting your voice volume. Everyone benefits from reminders that not all disabilities are visible.

2. ALWAYS provide a written response to any disciplinary record in your personnel file, and be sure you keep copies of everything - paper copies, and email copies to yourself as backup. Mention all factors: your hearing loss, wearing a mask, students not paying attention/making noise, etc. You could also email your response to the principal, superintendent, and BOE; don't assume that they will automatically see your response.

3. Ask for written district guidelines for voice level, and ask to have a district speech therapist work with you to meet the required guidelines.

Yelling and tone of voice is a commonly used criticism because it is hard to prove or disprove. Politely ask parents and administrators what they WANT you to do; if they tell you what they don't want, acknowledge that and turn it around to ask what they DO want. Explain that you could avoid doing what they don't want, but you could still end up doing something else they don't want, but if they give you specific examples of what they DO want, you can focus on following those examples.

Remind them that successful changes in behavior are the result of focusing on what to do, not on what not to do. (think about quitting smoking, or changing eating habits). If they focus only on what they don't want you to do, they are simply complaining, not seeking improvements. You still have to deal with this yucky situation, but you won't need to doubt yourself as a teacher.

Best of luck as you plan your apology and response!
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Old 10-31-2020, 06:56 PM
 
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It's unfortunate that during this time of virtual learning teachers now have parents as educational evaluators. Every lesson is critiqued and discussed with other parents. It's sad that parents are given such power over teachers.

I'm so sorry that you're facing cruel parents and an administrator who will not stand behind you.

Hold your head high and take it one step at a time!

Last edited by Renea; 11-01-2020 at 10:03 AM..
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Old 10-31-2020, 09:14 PM
 
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First, I'm so sorry that happened to you! I know from your posts you are a very compassionate person.

Second, if you have a union or association definitely ask for help. Also, I believe you have the right to at least write a rebuttal and have it placed in your employment file.

Third, I would check your rights under the disabilities act. It sounds like you have explained the hearing issues and are being punished anyway. It really would not hurt to mention filing a lawsuit for discrimination in a response to the administration. I would ask them to rescind the reprimand. And I would definitely send something out to the parents explaining the situation. You should not be punished for talking loudly!
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Old 10-31-2020, 09:19 PM
 
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Send them a letter with this quote and tell them you will file a complaint if the reprimand is not rescinded. I bet they will withdraw it.


Quote:
ADA Title I: Employment

Title I requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities available to others. For example, it prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment. It restricts questions that can be asked about an applicant's disability before a job offer is made, and it requires that employers make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship. Religious entities with 15 or more employees are covered under title I.

Title I complaints must be filed with the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the date of discrimination, or 300 days if the charge is filed with a designated State or local fair employment practice agency. Individuals may file a lawsuit in Federal court only after they receive a "right-to-sue" letter from the EEOC.

Charges of employment discrimination on the basis of disability may be filed at any U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office. Field offices are located in 50 cities throughout the U.S. and are listed in most telephone directories under "U.S. Government." For the appropriate EEOC field office in your geographic area, contact:
https://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm
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Old 11-01-2020, 09:52 AM
 
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So sorry you have to deal with this.
In addition to what everyone else has mentioned, my advice is to just concentrate on providing an engaging lesson/activity that hopefully the majority will be interested . Are you able to mute disruptive students? I have had to do that on occasion!
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(((hugs)))
Old 11-01-2020, 01:42 PM
 
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I am SO sorry this is happening to you! I agree that you need to contact your rep asap about that letter of reprimand, and let that cowardly P of yours know that he can't treat you like that.

As far as teaching, keep your voice appropriate for your in-person students, and let the virtual kids follow along as best they can.

Please keep us updated. We care about you! Prayers going up for you to keep calm and just keep doing your best. This too shall pass.
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Old 11-01-2020, 06:25 PM
 
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I am sorry! Thatís horrible for you.

Youíve gotten some excellent advice! Take care and please keep us updated. ❤️
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Old 11-01-2020, 09:38 PM
 
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Another drawback of the pandemic: Parents policing Zoom.

Technology has gone too far.

Orwell would have a field day with this era. He was prophetic.
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I am 100% agreeing w/ annie g's idea
Old 11-01-2020, 10:20 PM
 
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1. I do not think you should apologize for something you did not do. I have said, " I am sorry you feel that way before though."
2. If your hearing loss causes you to talk louder, it needs to be documented.
3. Nowadays some P's throw teachers under the bus b/c they are afraid of the parents. Your P needs to learn this is unacceptable. You have a chance to teach him and spare many teachers from bad experiences.
4. Punk P's like yours will often pick on teachers if you let them walk all over you. Writing the letter with the quote, will get you a meeting w/ HR and I'd bet 100 bucks that the letter of reprimand would be taken out of your file. Also, I think the P will treat you better in the future.
5. I have seen situations where teachers do not stand up for themselves and the P felt free to continue. I have known some who file grievances and P's backed off asap.
Also, I think it is a good idea to make a list you can see w/ tons of positive statements. Simple things can be praised for those tricky kids. Then I'd probably tape the sessions without telling anyone in case it happened again. I am really sorry you have to go through all of this. I know it is very hurtful.
Best wishes to you! <3
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This does not define you!
Old 11-02-2020, 01:23 PM
 
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What a wonderful outpouring of support! It makes me feel so good to see fellow teachers uplifting one of our own!


Get through the year somehow...you never know what can change. I don't have anything to add to the amazing advice already given, just wanted to say to hang in there and things are bound to change. You may just receive that note or quick glance from a student that makes it all worth it.


Also, why can't kids handle if a teacher raises her voice? I wonder if the parents in question ever raise their voices. As a parent I would tell my child that if the teacher needed to raise her voice that means you need to be a better listener next time.
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Old 11-03-2020, 02:23 PM
 
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I'm sorry this happened to you. I hate those moments in life when you feel like things are unfixable. I saw a TED talk today that mentioned moving forward and focusing on what you can control. Just take things day by day and be kind to yourself.
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