Tuesday, January 6, 2009

YOU KNOW.........

I told myself that I was going to start this new year with a good attitude. I was going to come back from my two week break from work with fresh eyes and a hopeful new approach. Things with my lead teacher were just strained because the kids had Christmas Fever in December. I was going to turn over a new leaf and make things right! Right?

As I was driving to work yesterday morning I had a full blown, knock down, drag out panic attack. It was so bad my finger tips went numb. I couldn't breathe and had to call the Assassin AND Hubby to try to talk me down just so I could get myself to work. I managed to force myself in the doors and kept a low profile. My boss was watching my every move and slightly critical, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Good, I thought. I've got a handle on this. It's going to be better now. Right? RIGHT?

I should have known better. I saw the trap. I walked around the trap once, but then I just jumped right into it. My boss has told me several times she feels that I label children too easily and that I shouldn't do that. Even if I say something is developmental, she says I am labeling them. But here's the thing, I have a right to label some children. I have experience working with special needs kids. I know of what I speak. Parents of special needs kids have thanked me and sought me out to work with their kids. I just "get" kids with quirks. To me it's just what makes the child unique, it's not a life curse to have something different with your child.

Anywho, remember my OCD child, the Perler bead child? She also has a tendency to wet her pants several times a day, every day. My boss got really fed up with it today and asked me point blank if I had a opinion on why she did this. I didn't know what to say. I knew if I said, "Why, yes, I think it is a manifestation of her OCD and we need to find something else that soothes that need," she would say I was labeling her. But I also knew if I didn't say anything, I would get in trouble. So I took a clinical approach. I simply said, "Well, I know in children this age it is a symptom of diabetes. I don't think she has it, but I just don't know." This didn't sit well with my boss, so I added, "I also think she enjoys being in the bathroom, it's her safe place. She spends twenty minutes at a time singing or playing the drums in there. Maybe that's just how she gets in there." No labeling. There was NO LABELING THERE!

Unfotunately, we had a meeting later on this afternoon and she brought it up again. I thought she was really asking me, giving me permission to say something, so I suggested we try an experiment where the child would receive a reward if she went one day without having an accident. The teacher kaibashed that idea because, "she'll harass us every other day about getting a reward and never let it go." (Umm, my point on OCD, maybe?) So then I said that I just wanted to know if the child COULD control her bladder or if maybe she wasn't developmentally ready to be potty trained. The lead teacher exploded all over the place and told me that she has already spoken to me about labeling children and that I am not a psychologist and...and...and....and I walked right into it, didn't I?

The thing is, I am beginning to realize that this person does this to make herself feel better. She belittles me to soothe herself. If I can say this to myself, why can't I just let it go and get through my work day without wanting to poke my eyes out? Why...why...WHY? If I talk to the division head, she's just going to talk to my boss and things will be a real mess. If I ignore the problem, I have 5 more months of this and then I have to try to find a job in a really messed up economy. If I talk back to my boss, well, I risk my job and a good reference. I just don't know what to do.

Rock, meet hard place.


Jeannie said...

Sounds like your lead teacher hasn't got a clue and resents that you do. I'll bet she uses your words in her reports to the higher ups but needs to keep you in your place by manipulating the situation. Instead of using a professional "labelling" term like "developmental", maybe you could use laymen's terms like "maybe the kid is going through a phase". Can you defer to her in a manipulative kiss up way, asking her opinion first or saying, I don't know, maybe...or Do you think it could be...? I'd hate to be in your position and I know I wouldn't be good at it but if you can survive until something better comes along.

Anonymous said...

You could turn it back around and ask her what SHE thinks and then just agree with EVERYTHING she says and go about your teaching in the manner in which you see fit. This woman is disturbed and it has nothing to do with you at all. She's using you as a punching bag. Why? Who knows. It's high handed of me to say that what she does only matters to you if you let it because she is your "superior" at work and can adversely affect your position at the school. But she really tortures you because she can. You could start documenting all the talks and snide remarks she makes, you might need that info at some point. She clearly sounds threatened by you. Perhaps someday you'll get the chance to look her in the eye and ask her what her problem is with you, and then tell her to shove her problem up her ass. Sigh. One can only fantasize...

And just because the economy is crappy does not mean you won't find another position like this. Kids gotta go to school.

Keeping you in my thoughts,

/ dw

ty-ping said...

Well either you could confront her about it, or, since she seems the type to not care or just get pissed off more if you point out her faults.
Just chronically shrug and say

Or like Jeannie said, just say "Maybe it's a phase" to everything.

For the most part just try not to listen to her crap, I mean the worst she can do it fire you. And even though the economy is bad I'm sure you'll be fine especially with such an awesome daughter whom I'm sure you'd delight to spend more time with and wouldn't care if there were some cutbacks at home.

Anonymous said...

And I would happily donate a week's salary to know you stood up to her. What are HER reviews like? Is she a teacher that is loved by administration or does she do this to others teachers and at other schools?

/ dw

charlitan said...

Talk back.

Your mental health is more important than the job or the reference. saying a child is being "labled" because you question where they are in their developmental process is ignorant and demonstrates this teachers lack of relevant education in the area. That is scary. Also, if this woman is so appalled at you forming an opinon when you are not "qualified" then why doesn't seh suggest to teh parents that they seek the opinion of someone who IS "qualified"? At what point is she engaging the parents in this concern and soliciting their involvement in solving the problem?

Talk bck. the next time she attacks you tell her calmly and professionaly that you are finding it very difficult to work to you potential in such a harsh and critical environment and that you would appreciate some concrete suggestions from her, as your boss, on what you could be imporving to meet her expectations. If she does not respond with something reasonable and stop her attacks, then walk away.

You neither need nor deserve this treatment.

AJH said...

I agree with you, your boss is being unpleasant for no reason except to bait the trap and lay on specious angst. Perhaps you should have a chat with her as to what her issue is as to the (charged) word, "label". (Something like, "what is it that you understand the word "label" to mean and how can it be construed as detrimental". An alternate phrasing would be "can we have a discussion on decoding the meanings and intention around the word "label").

To me, labels in this context are a term to encapsulate a certain amount of understanding, and should not be considered to be only of a clinical determination to be worthy. My ex used the "label" word as if it was some kind of sentence to perdition, and got away with it because I never asked what is the problem with notion of a "label", as it is a word to embody the thoughts of what the percieved problem is.

FreeDragon said...

I think the simplest solution would be to update your resume and quietly starting looking for a new job. If something else comes along, Great! If not, you are in no worse boat. As far as dealing with the boss in the mean time, whenever she asks your opinion just say, well I have some ideas but I haven't narrowed it down yet. What do you think? I would like your input before making a firm decision. Then document exactly what she said. You said in an early post that your boss complained you don't compliment her enough, or something to that effect. I think she is really insecure and probably resents that you are good at something and she is not.

Anonymous said...

You need to find a job working with guys. Seriously. Much less drama.

Of the 20 people in the group I support, there are 5 women. Two of the female technicians are at each other's throats, the 3rd is not speaking with a woman she is supposed to interface with from another lab. The two women engineers are always engaging in passive aggressive BS with each other.

Of course, mostly women are employed in early childhood jobs.

I know this is a broad and probably unfair generalization, but it's been what I've experienced.


Anonymous said...

You know what? Ask her for a cup of coffee sometime. Really. Or ask her if she can stay 15 minutes after school with you.
Let her know that you two are on the same team. That semantics are not top priority, it's the intent behind your actions that matter. That the children matter, not this potato-po-tah-to business.
Next time she gets on your case, bounce back her words to her. In other words, if she were a child, what would you do? You would echo the child so he/she would know they've been heard. Then follow up with that by finishing off with "I know you're frustrated. This is not an easy case. So let's work together and see what we can do."
Honestly? Your boss sounds very stressed out.
But yeah, you do need to stand up for yourself. Only reason she keeps doing this to you is because you don't say anything. Ergo, she thinks she's entitled to be disrespectful to you.
Speak up and get that respect.

Terra Tenshi said...

Check around and see what the laws are concerning tape recording in your state. Many states allow in person recording of conversations provided one person knows about them. If your state is like this start tape recording any and all conversations with her when you feel like you can't take it anymore take the tape to someone with authority and tell them that while you aren't trying to make trouble you feel that you are being unduly persecuted by this woman. Play them the tape. Hopefully they'll do the responsible thing and do something about her if not then at least they'll know there was a problem and hopefully will write you a good review if she won't. If they're as bad as she is then at least at your next job interview when they ask about your last job you can tell them that your boss was harassing you and offer to bring proof if they like.