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Have you ever felt like an administrator just doesn’t like you and that no matter what you do, he/she will determine you’re doing it wrong? What do you do when that happens? Run for the hills? Kill them with kindness? Here are some common sense strategies for dealing with an administrator that simply doesn’t want you around.
Try a Private Conversation
Maybe you’ve read the signals wrong, but maybe you haven’t. Ask to speak to the administrator in private and give him/her a chance to say how he/she really feels. What do you have to lose? Maybe you can gain some new-found respect by having that conversation and clearing the air. If that doesn’t work, move on to step two.
Just Do Your Job
You can try just doing your job to the best of your abilities and avoid that administrator as much as possible. Keep your opinions to yourself and don’t air your dirty laundry to other co-workers, as this might land you in more trouble. Keep your head down, and press on. As long as you’re doing everything you’ve been told to do, you should be okay. If he/she still finds fault with you, try the next step.
Speak to Another Administrator
You’ve already tried giving this administrator a chance to clear the air. You’ve tried just doing your job. If you’re still having trouble and it’s with an Assistant Principal, ask to speak privately with the Principal. Ask that the conversation remain confidential and keep your emotions out of it as much as possible. Stick to the facts. Talk about all the things you’ve done to try to improve the relationship and ask for suggestions. Try to make the conversation about you wanting to become a better teacher, not about trying to make the other administrator better.
If things go wrong here, you may have just one option left.
Transfer to Another School
There’s no reason to remain miserable if you’re unhappy where you’re at. Keep your eye on job listings and look for an opportunity to start fresh somewhere else. Just be aware that the grass is not always greener on the other side, so be sure that you’ve done everything you can to make things better where you’re at before deciding to just transfer somewhere else.
If You’re on an Improvement Plan…
If things have gotten so bad that they’ve put you on an improvement plan, be aware that this will likely follow you no matter where you go. You still may have a better chance elsewhere, but don’t expect it to just go away. If you’re on an improvement plan or an action plan, follow it to the letter. You can work your way out of a hole and prove your merit, especially if you know it’s unmerited. If you’ve made mistakes, own them and learn from them. Either way, show them they’re wrong and that you are a good teacher. Always do your best and stay organized. Don’t give them any reason to doubt you.
Finally, Seek Legal Representation if Necessary
Even if you’re not in a union state, most states have non-union teacher support networks, like the NEA or PENC. If you get into one of these, you can get free legal advice. If you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do and you’re still receiving poor marks on evaluations, it may be time to seek help, and going to HR might not be a bad idea either. Make them show the burden of proof that you deserve what you’re getting instead of waiting around for them to find reason to fire you.
Things Will Get Better
No matter what happens, know that things will get better. Even if you decide teaching is not for you or that going somewhere else is necessary, your career is not over–you just need a fresh start doing something else. If it comes down to it, here are some suggestions for things to do if you quit teaching. Just don’t let them get to your head if you know that you’re a worthwhile teacher. One administrator should not be the reason you decide your career is over. And if you need support, we’re here to help.