Hostile Work Environment/Teacher Edition
March 16, 2018 6:01 AM   Subscribe

This was me and I've given notice that I won't return to this teaching position, which I did after I was told I would not be getting professional status. Since stating I'm not returning, I'm being aggressively micromanaged and I've been informed by co-workers that admins are openly slamming me. Suffice it to say the union is no help at all. Should I just give 2 weeks notice and leave?

Since saying I'm not returning,I've been informed that the admins are openly slamming me and implying wildly unprofessional behavior on my part (none of this is true).

Additionally, my immediate admin is now contacting me several times daily to micromanage me.

Here's the thing: I can get another teaching job immediately and I'm good on references. They can also fill my position right away.

As much as I'm meditating and being healthy, coming in to this place daily is very much stressing me out and at this point, I just want to leave this place.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't see a big downside to leaving - obviously leaving a teaching job with 2 weeks notice is ordinarily a bridge-burning-y thing to do but it seems like there isn't much of a bridge left regardless.
posted by mskyle at 6:11 AM on March 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

So leave? There appears to be no upside to staying.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:15 AM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Here's the thing: I can get another teaching job immediately and I'm good on references. They can also fill my position right away.

Sounds like you've got nothing to lose by going, and lots of additional stress by staying - I also don't see any significant downsides to leaving at this point.
posted by terretu at 6:15 AM on March 16, 2018 [9 favorites]

Is there any reason to stay? I don’t see one in your post, but perhaps there’s something you’re not mentioning. If it’s a vague feeling that leaving is somehow not nice, screw these people.
posted by FencingGal at 7:39 AM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Given that "not a good fit" was almost certainly management code for "we want somebody cheaper than you", micromanagement reads to me like an attempt to find an excuse to sack you for "cause".

Sack them first, in self defence if for no other reason.
posted by flabdablet at 7:43 AM on March 16, 2018 [6 favorites]

What’ll happen to your students if you leave before the term is up?
posted by notyou at 7:46 AM on March 16, 2018

What’ll happen to your students if you leave before the term is up?

A teaching assistant will be moved into my position and a school-based sub will take their position.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:49 AM on March 16, 2018

From the title of the post I thought this was going to be a legal question.

The way you've framed the post makes it look like you already know the answer. You've laid out a few reasons why you think it would be okay to leave (being able to get another job in short order, and leaving a hostile environment), but you haven't laid out the reasons why you think you should stay / are even debating the question.

Are you concerned about your professional responsibility to your students? An unhappy employee will have trouble being a happy teacher. Parents obviously talk, and that could get around before you get another gig.

Is it a question of looking unprofessional by jumping ship mid-year? With the admins actively working on damaging your professional reputation, it seems it would be best to go while your references are still good. Eventually their stories are going to reach someone with hiring responsibilities, seems it would be best to be hired somewhere else before that happens.

Are you trying to figure out a way to stay? I'm not a teacher; is there a higher authority that can be appealed to? Even your union doesn't seem to be helping you fight for this position, so it seems that they are basically telling you to suck it up or move on.

Maybe you're taking this all way too personally (hear me out): from glancing over your previous posts I really suspect that this is not about you personally at all, but it's about people who are bad at managing and bad at long-term thinking trying to save money for the district, and about trying to guarantee that the district will have flexibility to reduce staff at will in the future. I would bet good money that as time goes on you will see this district award tenure less and less, if at all. You've been asking "what did I do wrong?" but with good reviews behind you and suddenly something negative with no specific incidents to point at, the truth is you personally have done nothing wrong. Ime when decisions get made solely based on budget and short-term thinking, the best way to save your sanity and your self-esteem is to move on as quickly as possible.
posted by vignettist at 8:14 AM on March 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

I, an internet stranger, give you encouragement to go now as well, since it appears you have all the bases covered.

Be prepared for an escalation in the bullshit in the last two weeks. I don't know WTF is wrong with these people that they can't behave in a business-appropriate state of social neutrality, like you are by desiring to fulfill the rest of your contract with the professionalism you've always approached your job with, but there you go.

From the point of view of someone with a moral compass, there is no reason in the world for you to stick around in a place that does not show they value your contribution with appropriate job progression, and having showed their intention, allows individuals to actively fabricate untruths with regard to your character in an effort to justify their position.

You might want to put together a timeline, including when you saw your union rep and asked metafilter, every stupid nit-picky petty thing your administrators have done and said since then, the statements of your peers, to the best of your recollection. Just as if you were documenting harassment of a different nature. Follow with a brief statement of how this affects you for the period of time it has affected you for. You've already told us here, just grab it from your questions and make it self-standing.

This is your shield. Because, for me, all the character fabrications and gaslighting would be (and have been, when I was in an invisible-ish work bullying situation) crazy-making. I think a moment of processing it and firming your (very, very righteous) position will help you move forward in power.

Even if it's not legally actionable, who knows how it may come in handy! Unexpected access to a board member of your school? Administrator running for public office? Look what's suddenly come to light about their nefarious and unsavory actions! Union gets a new bulldog lawyer itching to chase down and bring to justice hostile workplaces and unfair contract practices! Have I got a dossier for you!

Seriously, though, all the advice in the world that "business is just business!" ignores the fact that so often, for those in positions of power, it isn't separate from their bizarro ego inflation games and concurrent core incompetencies. Is it possible to take a union moderator with you as witness to any subsequent meetings with said administrators when you give notice? I would do that. Is it possible to not stay out the two weeks, if notice is given and harassment/slander escalates? I would do that.

Please do make sure your new contract is signed before giving notice. And do line up your references from the current job, should the administrators attempt to spread their slander into your larger professional sphere. But, yeah, bounce. All the best!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:59 AM on March 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh, and I agree with vignettist that the tenure decision could have been purely financial, and not performance based at all! But the fact that you couldn't finish your term in peace tells me these are not robot overlords, but petty tyrants you're dealing with.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:05 AM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

File a grievance and take every possible stand. Because the only way bullies stop is if you call them on it. Talk to your doctor; is this making you ill? Can you go on sick leave for the rest of the year? Because that would be a good learning experience for the school. Talk to the principal, explain that the petty bullshit is making you consider leaving before the end of the year; maybe they'll intervene, if not, leave.
posted by theora55 at 10:19 AM on March 16, 2018

In the US, teaching jobs do not work like other jobs in terms of two-week notices because you are under contract. My big concern with leaving is contractual- are they willing to let you go gracefully, without running you up to the line to the state licensing commission? Can you get that from the district in writing? In my state, leaving mid-year is something a petty administrator or higher-up could try and get your license yanked over, which is a huge problem. Your admin sound petty and vindictive enough to do this. This something that if your union had been helpful at all I would recommend talking to your union about- you might still try, since it is a somewhat different issue- and run by district HR as well.

Every application for a US teaching position you fill out for the rest of your career will likely have a question about whether you have left a job mid-year. Consider this as well.
posted by charmedimsure at 2:17 PM on March 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

Yes, you will be questioned on this forever. Even if you can walk into a job now, next time this will be a mark against you that will take years to overcome.
posted by Gotanda at 8:33 PM on March 16, 2018

So: If this is true that you will sustain the professional harm by leaving a situation where your administrators are engaging in retalitory harassment over your decision to not return at the end of term, is there a way to get outside employment lawyer help with breaking the contract on terms favorable to you?

I looked at your previous question and saw that the tenure was denied as "not a good fit," which is maddeningly vague, but not a negative evaluation per se.

The subsequent harassment, however, is not excusable! Even if you tipped your hand prematurely by announcing your intention to not renew your contract with that school, you'd think that, having been deemed "not a good fit" the principle would be all,"Whew! Problem solved!"

Seconding Theora55's suggestion of a medical leave for the rest of term, as a possible solution. A competent legal person to review the contract issues, and possibly address the retaliatory harassment. A stern lawyer letter is often enough to make bullies back off in other realms of business, perhaps it would be enough to do so here if the princple were persuaded that raining lawsuits onto the district is not worth continuing to needle you. An outside employment lawyer if the union is of no help. The goal is to allow you to remove yourself from this negative situation without damage to your professional standing, or further drain to your mental well-being.

I would suggest there is a way to shine on every micromanagement encounter with super double plus one hundred percent positive agreement and inner eye-rolling. However, people in power engaging in reputation-damaging lies about you is soul-sucking! Is there a way to change your curricula for the entire rest of the term to a study of bullying and harrassment dynamics and the ways in which modern society is seeking to change them? Because if the contract thing goes both ways and they can't really fire you, I would that.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:59 AM on March 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

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