Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: GSNW on February 27, 2014, 12:35:25 PM

Title: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: GSNW on February 27, 2014, 12:35:25 PM
So this background is sort of long, my apologies for that!

We did an activity in class yesterday that is one of my favorites (it's called The Great Fossil Find and if you're into or teach paleontology concepts it can be found here: http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/lessons/gr.fs.fd.html).

At the beginning of the period, during the announcements, the orchestra assistant (Muffy) came and asked for one of my students (Lulu).  They went into the hall.  At the end of announcements as I was pairing kids up, she still wasn't back.  I peeked into the hall and they were having an intense conversation.  Started working.  Peeked again.  Now Lulu was crying and Muffy was looking cross.  TWENTY MINUTES LATER, Lulu enters my class a sobbing mess.  I stepped back outside with her and ask what's up, she said, "I don't know Mrs. GSNW, I keep thinking this conversation is over but she won't stop talking to me about it." 

Obviously that is not a lot of detail, but the rest of the class is waiting for me to continue with guided activity, so I have Lulu wash her face and tell her it'll be OK (Lulu, by the way, is a GREAT kid -- she is an exemplary student, very bright, courteous, etc).  By this time I am PO'd.  Lulu missed 20+ minutes of my class for some sort of confrontation that left her unable to function for the remaining time in class, and she is obviously extremely upset. 

I spoke to the dean during passing period and asked her what to do?  Gave dean the basics - kid pulled from my class, very upset, freaking out, etc.  At the end of the day Lulu came in and said, "Mrs. GSNW, are you the one that told Ms. Dean about what happened?"  I said yes, and Lulu gave me a hug and said, "Thank you SO much."  I didn't get more details but Lulu said she felt much better and "it's finally over."

So now I'm sure you can guess, Muffy is furious with me for stepping in to the situation.  She sent me a very nasty email (over school mail no less!) which I have pasted below:

GSNW -
Ridiculous - if you have a problem with how I deal with a student deal with me about it because your class is not the only thing happening on campus.  I talk to kids when I need to and I NEEDED TO TALK TO LULU.  She cried so what.  I thought you and I were better friends than that -

Muffy

I did not respond to the email, because really what is there to say?  I don't know what the conversation was about and I'm not super interested in the details.  If something required that much discussion or was serious enough to warrant that level of upset, it was not handled in the right way.  I would not be surprised if Muffy confronted me, so can I say...

"I'm not going to talk about this with you."
"I really don't see the point in discussing this."
"I don't feel I owe you an explanation."
Nothing, walk away.

I don't know, any other ideas?
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on February 27, 2014, 12:49:18 PM
I would absolutely forward that to the dean, with a note that said, "Thought you might want to know."

And then I'd just avoid the woman at all costs.

But as you point out, you may not be able to, so I like your, "I don't see any point in discussing this." and then, "Excuse me, I'm running late, and I need to get going." and walk away while she is talking.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: buvezdevin on February 27, 2014, 12:58:06 PM
Well, you don't know specifics of how or what Muffy communicated to Lulu, is I would guess that your convo with the dean was about how to address a student missing class time and being unable to engage due to student's upset at the discussion for which she was pulled from class.

In other words, you spoke with the dean about Lulu, not Muffy - right?  I would not reply to the email, but if Muffy presses you in person, I would reply "Muffy, I spoke with dean about Lulu being unable to participate in class - I don't know what you discussed with Lulu, and don't need to know - my concern was only Lulu."
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Jones on February 27, 2014, 01:01:18 PM
Forward the email to the dean for sure.

I like the first two phrases you posted, and the "just walk away" option. A denial of friendship would be on my "to-do" list as well, if she tries to say that in person. Your association is professional, I presume, and part of being professional is reporting suspected emotional abuse and preventable activities that disrupt the learning process.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: GSNW on February 27, 2014, 01:02:30 PM
In other words, you spoke with the dean about Lulu, not Muffy - right?  I would not reply to the email, but if Muffy presses you in person, I would reply "Muffy, I spoke with dean about Lulu being unable to participate in class - I don't know what you discussed with Lulu, and don't need to know - my concern was only Lulu."

Yup, this exactly!
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Deetee on February 27, 2014, 01:05:13 PM
I'm just following TootsNYC around today agreeing with her.

I also suggest that be forwarded to the Dean. If she thinks that next time you should allow children to be reduced to a sobbing mess during class time and that the other teacher was appropriate, she can let you know.

Also, I admire that you were not interested and did not probe into the reasons for the drama. Just the effect on the student and the class.

Maybe for Muffy something like:
[assuming there are not students around]
"This is something between you and the Dean. I'm not getting involved."
or maybe, maybe
"If my class is disrupted and my student is weeping, I will always follow up with the appropriate person, which is the Dean"

Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: MrTango on February 27, 2014, 01:23:17 PM
If I were in your shoes, that would be forwarded to the dean as an "FYI."

I'd also save a copy somewhere, just in case it's needed at a later date.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on February 27, 2014, 01:29:20 PM
"She cried so what."

 :o
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Marisol on February 27, 2014, 01:36:46 PM
Based on Lulu thanking you and saying "it is finally over" something was going on that Muffy was not handling right.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TurtleDove on February 27, 2014, 01:45:28 PM
Well, you don't know specifics of how or what Muffy communicated to Lulu, is I would guess that your convo with the dean was about how to address a student missing class time and being unable to engage due to student's upset at the discussion for which she was pulled from class.

In other words, you spoke with the dean about Lulu, not Muffy - right?  I would not reply to the email, but if Muffy presses you in person, I would reply "Muffy, I spoke with dean about Lulu being unable to participate in class - I don't know what you discussed with Lulu, and don't need to know - my concern was only Lulu."

I agree with this.  I would save the email in case it is needed in the future, but I wouldn't forward it to the Dean at this point.  It could come across as the OP trying to get Muffy in trouble, or not being able to handle interpersonal issues herself, which does not reflect well on the OP.  I think the OP handled this very well so far, the Dean is aware Muffy did something, and will likely ask the OP if she needs more information, at which point, if this develops (or if Muffy steps things up) it may make sense to shar the email with the Dean.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: tinkytinky on February 27, 2014, 01:45:55 PM
WOW! "she cried so what". That is cold.

Ignore the email (but keep a copy, forward as an FYI to the Dean). If she confronts you, your answer is "I was concerned for my student, and I will absolutely go to the Dean if warranted because my student is not able to participate in my class." and "In the future, please do not interupt my class time to discuss things with my students." I am assuming that she has Lulu for class at some point in the day. she can talk with her at that time. Because, even though your class "isn't the only thing happening on campus", it was your dedicated time with the class in question. and believe me, if one student is so upset that she couldn't participate, most of the other students did not grasp the activity as well as if they had been uninterupted. And as she is an assistant, why is she talking to you like that anyway?

FWIW, I am furious for you.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: ddawn23 on February 27, 2014, 01:46:10 PM
If I were in your shoes, that would be forwarded to the dean as an "FYI."

I'd also save a copy somewhere, just in case it's needed at a later date.
I add my pod to this, and I'd add that Bcc is your friend.  If, in the future, you do need to reply to a prickly email from Muffy, Bcc the dean.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: guihong on February 27, 2014, 01:51:49 PM
I totally agree with the advice upthread, but wanted to jump in to say I love that lesson!  I take it GSNW teaches elementary kids, but I think it could be modified for middle school kids as well :).
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: esposita on February 27, 2014, 02:10:25 PM
I have no advice or anything except anger that a person in a teaching capacity would take the child you describe, reduce her to tears, and send her back to class that way. If you're going to have strong words for a child you darn well better take care of the whole issue, which means that you stay til everything is better and you and the kid are on friendly terms again. Grrrr....
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on February 27, 2014, 02:48:26 PM
I totally agree with the advice upthread, but wanted to jump in to say I love that lesson!  I take it GSNW teaches elementary kids, but I think it could be modified for middle school kids as well :).

Whoa, really? I'd been thinking high school or something!

That makes the "She cried so what" response even worse, and the fact that this woman made her cry horrible as well!
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: lowspark on February 27, 2014, 02:52:23 PM
I would absolutely forward that to the dean, with a note that said, "Thought you might want to know."

And then I'd just avoid the woman at all costs.

But as you point out, you may not be able to, so I like your, "I don't see any point in discussing this." and then, "Excuse me, I'm running late, and I need to get going." and walk away while she is talking.

I agree. Definitely forward it to the dean.

I like the "I'm not going to talk about this with you" response. And then walk away.

And be prepared. My guess is that she's going to get more angry and more aggressive before she backs off. But once she really understands that you aren't going to engage with her on this and that you're going to keep getting the dean involved, she'll most likely start avoiding you.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on February 27, 2014, 02:56:14 PM
Oh--here's an idea.

you could also say,

"I really don't any any of the details, and I don't want to--I left that all up to the dean."

And then, "Excuse me, I really need to get going."

If she has cornered you in your room, and you weren't planning to leave the area, then, "Excuse me, I can't talk anymore, I need to get this finished." And if at all possible turn away from her.


Or, "If you have a problem, take it to the dean."
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Nornster on February 27, 2014, 02:58:53 PM
I have to say, I would not only NOT just demure and decline discussing the event, I'd go on the offensive. Don't just forward the email to dean, tell her you DEMAND a meeting with both the dean and her to find out why she feels  she has a right  to pull a student out of your instructional time without even the courtesy of asking you first. (I'll bet the dean probably has a very different understanding of her right to talk to students whenever she wants.) There's nothing impolite in being assertive about addressing wrongs.

I had a similar situation when I was teaching kindergarten. A fifth-grade teacher pulled me into the hall (while my kids were in the classroom) to discuss a parent of mine who had witnessed her son, who was in the other kindergarten, push a classmate of his while they were lined up outside before school started. So, an event I hadn't witnessed, involving no students of mine. Finally, I told her I would come talk to her when my kids went to art. Oh , no, that wouldn't work, she would be instructing students at that time. I looked at her, back to my students waiting for me, back to her - and suggested we talk during our only mutual prep time, before school the next day - in the principal's office. She backed down really quickly after that. She was very pushy, but I politely refused to be pushed around.

This was all a case of professional Darwinism, too - she was a first-year teacher at that school, without tenure. Add to that an ill-behaved son and a defensive streak, and shockingly she (and her son) were not asked back the next school year.

Oh, the making the student cry really angers me, too, but other posters have covered that. I just think a lot of teachers can be "too nice ," and I don't think this is just between her and the dean and the student - it affected you and your whole class, too. The angry email would've probably come from me first!

Edited to add: I can totally see not going to the Dean - as she suggested, you could "come to her" and read her the riot act for her presumption!
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Twik on February 27, 2014, 03:08:15 PM
"She cried so what."

 :o

Exactly what I was thinking.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Arila on February 27, 2014, 03:21:23 PM
I also think the email should end up in the Dean's inbox. Email to coworkers using work email -- I would never send anything that I didn't want my boss to be reading.

I would also copy Muffy on that communication, and perhaps say something like,

"Muffy, I have turned this issue over to the dean."

If she insists on discussing it further, I would respond that the only possible condition under which you will discuss it further is with you, her, and the dean present. I was going to put that in my suggestion for the first email, but then decided that it sort of invites further discussion, so I left it off in favor of the (expected) second communication/response from Muffy.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TurtleDove on February 27, 2014, 03:29:59 PM
Workplaces may vary, but I would not send the email to the Dean at this point. To me it makes the OP the one who won't let things drop and the Dean is supposed to be handling situations with students, not interpersonal problems with staff (at least as I understand it).  The Dean is alerady aware of "The Muffy Situation" and presumably will ask the OP for input if needed.  At that point the OP should share the email, but to do it now I think creates a weird "can't these people get along as adults" vibe, when the OP can simply ignore the email.  The issue with the student is already being addressed by the Dean.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Arila on February 27, 2014, 03:33:16 PM
TD, if this was just an issue between two coworkers just about the two of them, I would agree with you, but what I think happened was that the dean spoke with Muffy about the incident, it didn't get resolved in Muffy's favor, and Muffy is trying to control the (totally appropriate) flow of information to the dean. If it was a new topic, or a topic not specifically trying to cut the dean out of the loop, I might agree.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Jones on February 27, 2014, 03:38:51 PM
TD, if this was just an issue between two coworkers just about the two of them, I would agree with you, but what I think happened was that the dean spoke with Muffy about the incident, it didn't get resolved in Muffy's favor, and Muffy is trying to control the (totally appropriate) flow of information to the dean. If it was a new topic, or a topic not specifically trying to cut the dean out of the loop, I might agree.

Excellent summary. I was trying to figure out how to express my reasoning on the forward, this does it.

I do like the idea of copying Muffy on the forward and putting in a sentence about how the situation has been turned over to the dean.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TurtleDove on February 27, 2014, 03:42:56 PM
I see what you are saying, but at this point it sounds like tattling to me.  Are you saying the Dean needs to know Muffy is angry that the OP went to the Dean?  To me, the OP simply ignoring the email and going to the Dean with things the Dean should be handling (like things involving students) is a better option than essentailly saying, "Now that Muffy is in trouble, here is some more ammunition." 

I'm having a difficult time expressing why it seems distasteful to forward the email right away.  The closest I can come is that to me it comes across as, "I cannot handle my own professional relationships so please discipline Muffy."  Not that the OP is actually saying that, but just that it is how it would come across at this point, to me, if I were the Dean.  I would think, "Can't OP just ignore Muffy?  I am already handling what Muffy did with Lulu, and now OP wants me to mediate between her and Muffy?"
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on February 27, 2014, 03:43:29 PM
Workplaces may vary, but I would not send the email to the Dean at this point. To me it makes the OP the one who won't let things drop and the Dean is supposed to be handling situations with students, not interpersonal problems with staff (at least as I understand it).  The Dean is alerady aware of "The Muffy Situation" and presumably will ask the OP for input if needed.  At that point the OP should share the email, but to do it now I think creates a weird "can't these people get along as adults" vibe, when the OP can simply ignore the email.  The issue with the student is already being addressed by the Dean.

Actually, as I think about it, I think I agree, that it would be best not to bring it to the dean.

Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Jones on February 27, 2014, 03:48:34 PM
IMO, The dean should know that Muffy thinks it's no big deal to make kids cry or disrupt the classroom and is trying to make other people not come to him when she does it.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Klein Bottle on February 27, 2014, 03:49:17 PM
Workplaces may vary, but I would not send the email to the Dean at this point. To me it makes the OP the one who won't let things drop and the Dean is supposed to be handling situations with students, not interpersonal problems with staff (at least as I understand it).  The Dean is alerady aware of "The Muffy Situation" and presumably will ask the OP for input if needed.  At that point the OP should share the email, but to do it now I think creates a weird "can't these people get along as adults" vibe, when the OP can simply ignore the email.  The issue with the student is already being addressed by the Dean.

Actually, as I think about it, I think I agree, that it would be best not to bring it to the dean.

I agree.  Hang onto it, and forward if you need to in the future, if the situation escalates.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: GreenBird on February 27, 2014, 03:50:30 PM
I'd strongly consider forwarding the email to the dean because of the "She cried so what".  I  think I'd say "Just FYI" and attach the email to make it clear that I'm not asking the dean to do anything about anything for me.  But Muffy's attitude in that email is entirely relevant information for whatever the dean decides to do with Muffy.  I wouldn't follow up with the dean about it further because what the dean does with Muffy is not my business, but the attitude displayed toward the child in this email strikes me as information that the dean needs. 
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: whatsanenigma on February 27, 2014, 03:51:19 PM
TD, if this was just an issue between two coworkers just about the two of them, I would agree with you, but what I think happened was that the dean spoke with Muffy about the incident, it didn't get resolved in Muffy's favor, and Muffy is trying to control the (totally appropriate) flow of information to the dean. If it was a new topic, or a topic not specifically trying to cut the dean out of the loop, I might agree.

Excellent summary. I was trying to figure out how to express my reasoning on the forward, this does it.

I do like the idea of copying Muffy on the forward and putting in a sentence about how the situation has been turned over to the dean.

Also, Muffy directly interfered with the OP's ability to do her job.  Muffy pulled a student out of OP's class in the middle of a complex, guided, activity and now the student has missed out on it and there is no easy way for the OP to replicate that learning experience with the child.  And besides that, even when the student was allowed to return, she was so upset that a major disruption to learning was caused.  It's even possible that OP has follow up lesson plans that reference this activity, and this would put the student even more behind.

Muffy just basically walked into OP's classroom, where she had no real authority, and demanded time with the student that rightfully belonged to the OP.  (Or, you could look at it the other way around, and say that the student was entitled to the time with the OP and was denied it.)  The educational process, and OP's ability to facilitate it, was disrupted.

And it sounds to me like Muffy had already discussed "whatever it was" with the student and just kept pulling her back to keep harping on it, what with the student saying that she's glad it's over.  I would bet that's what the dean told her-you've already addressed this problem with this student, now don't bring it up again (and hopefully also, don't drag a student out of someone else's class to harp on it again).

So, there are two reasons why it's a legitimate issue to bring the dean into, that go far beyond just a dispute between two co-workers, I think.  One is that the OP's job is already complicated enough and Muffy just made it even harder.  And the other is that a student has been made very upset, possibly with longer term consequences, or possibly as a symptom of being bullied or similarly mistreated by another teacher, and it is legitimate for the OP to be worried about that student.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: lowspark on February 27, 2014, 03:52:18 PM
For me, there are two reasons I'd go ahead and forward it to the dean.
Firstly, it's probably in the school's best interest for the dean to be aware of the "she cried, so what" attitude this teacher has.
Secondly, there are indications that Muffy will continue to badger the OP, either in person or via email or both and the best way to get that to stop is to make Muffy realize that her communications will not stay just between the two of them.

I can see it being seen by the dean as the OP running to her every time there's a problem, though, so I'd probably cc Muffy and preface the email with some kind of explanation. So maybe something like, "Dean, I'm sorry to continue engaging your involvement in this situation but at this point, I would like to completely remove myself from further communications regarding this incident."
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: whatsanenigma on February 27, 2014, 03:52:50 PM
IMO, The dean should know that Muffy thinks it's no big deal to make kids cry or disrupt the classroom and is trying to make other people not come to him when she does it.

Yes, this exactly.  Disagreements between co-workers aside, this issue needs to come to the attention of the dean.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TurtleDove on February 27, 2014, 04:02:13 PM
For me, there are two reasons I'd go ahead and forward it to the dean.
Firstly, it's probably in the school's best interest for the dean to be aware of the "she cried, so what" attitude this teacher has.
Secondly, there are indications that Muffy will continue to badger the OP, either in person or via email or both and the best way to get that to stop is to make Muffy realize that her communications will not stay just between the two of them.

I can see it being seen by the dean as the OP running to her every time there's a problem, though, so I'd probably cc Muffy and preface the email with some kind of explanation. So maybe something like, "Dean, I'm sorry to continue engaging your involvement in this situation but at this point, I would like to completely remove myself from further communications regarding this incident."

With the bolded explanation forwarding the email, that might make sense to do.  I think the Dean is already handling what happened with Lulu though - he already knows Muffy made her cry and continued to badger her.  But I do like the bolded statement because it takes away the "tattling" aspect of things and frames it as "I don't think I really have anything to do with this - I did my part - I would like to stay out of it from here on forward so Dean, here is Muffy's input.  Please remove me from your mailing list."  (Obviously, not that exact language, but you get the drift) :)
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: buvezdevin on February 27, 2014, 04:06:31 PM
I agree with keeping a copy of the email, but not forwarding it now.

So far, OP has brought an issue to the dean regarding a student being unable to participate in class, and left it for the dean to address as needed - whether the dean found that was caused by Molly acting less than desirably, or - as might have been the case - Lulu being the actual issue.

Sending dean Muffy's email would be a *new* issue brought forward -  "look! Molly can't be reasonable in professional communications, on top of that other thing".

It would - to me - only be worth bringing the email to the dean if it were needed to show a pattern in a continuing issue with Molly which needed the dean to address.  I think the dean *has* addressed the first issue (re Lulu) and I would not introduce the email unless Molly continued to interfere with Lulu, or other student's class participation - or if Muffy undertook continuing inappropriate communications to OP.

As for those pointing to the "she cried, so what" - I agree it is a cold statement, but it was made in the course of an unprofessional email whose overall message was "you are not a good person because you involved a higher up in something and now I look bad because I *did* behave badly - so what."  It is an emotional knee jerk defensive reaction to being called out, and pretty poorly reasoned.  I would not consider it evidence that Muffy enjoys making students cry, or kicking small puppies - but that she is immature, unprofessional, and defensive - though the email is inappropriate! by itself it is not something I would be asking dean/management to pursue disciplinary action for, and if I weren't asking for disciplinary action/intervention - why forward it?  Dean has just *had* an example of Muffy's professional interaction skills via Lulu.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Arila on February 27, 2014, 04:10:29 PM
I will admit to having more conservative ideas about the leeway I have in when I should/shouldn't make my boss aware of something. If I ever have any doubts, I usually share the data and let my boss figure out whether or not to get involved. He is also copied on at least 1/3 of my email traffic (poor guy) both by people sending email to me and me sending email to them, so I'm also perhaps desensitized to the idea that my boss sees a lot of my work communications.

Anyway, I'm not posting to be argumentative, I think it's good for us to explain the nuances of our differing opinions so that the OP can apply them to her specific situation.


The "she cried so what" factor also points out that whatever was said between Muffy and the dean, Muffy's attitude is still not in the right place. The issue between Muffy and Lulu is the dean's to solve, and we all seem to agree on that point. The email from Muffy further shows that the message Muffy received from the discussion with the dean wasn't that she had done wrong/needs to modify, but that she had been caught.


You guys keep posting while I'm posting!

- I don't see this as a new issue, or a pile on issue.
- I really disagree with the "save it in case the dean needs it for further investigation" The dean is really REALLY not likely to go to a third party and say "Hey, remember that incident where you were only tangentially involved? Do you have any more to add?" No. That won't happen. This email is relevant to the first issue, and shows that it's not not not resolved.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Deetee on February 27, 2014, 04:15:55 PM
I still think you should forward it as I think the Dean can make the best decision if she has the most amount of information. I might add a note or chat with her first and say "I don't expect you to do anything directly with this and I have no plans to respond to Muffy myself, but I thought you would want to know the follow up of our earlier conversation"
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: buvezdevin on February 27, 2014, 04:21:03 PM
I suggest saving the email, to show the pattern of behavior - if there is further such behavior, or if Muffy starts making complaints to dean about OP.  Wasn't suggesting that there is a likelihood the dean will independently ask OP about any such communications.

I agree that we all bring our own perspective about "how much to share" our emails with bosses.  Mine is that my management chain gets inundated with emails, so I try to forward only things which need their action, or a small subset of "FYI" messages.  And for me, this doesn't fit either category - but I see that it might for others.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TurtleDove on February 27, 2014, 04:28:49 PM
I suggest saving the email, to show the pattern of behavior - if there is further such behavior, or if Muffy starts making complaints to dean about OP.  Wasn't suggesting that there is a likelihood the dean will independently ask OP about any such communications.

I agree that we all bring our own perspective about "how much to share" our emails with bosses.  Mine is that my management chain gets inundated with emails, so I try to forward only things which need their action, or a small subset of "FYI" messages.  And for me, this doesn't fit either category - but I see that it might for others.

Yes, I agree with this.  I think the particulars of the job descriptions matter, but as I understand it the Dean is to handle issues with students, and I think she has enough information to go on already.  If I were the Dean and got the forwarded email from the OP I would think, "why can't these two just be adult about this - what do they want me to do about it - give them both a time out?"  Note that my respnose wouldn't be simply, "Muffy needs to be disciplined."  It would be "why is the OP involving me in her issues with Muffy."  That is why I personally would hold off on forwarding the email at this time, unless the language above (I forget which poster suggested it by I quoted it in bold) was used to basically say, "I don't want you to handle anything for ME, but if this helps you in dealing with the Muffy/Lulu situation here you go."
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: tinkytinky on February 27, 2014, 04:31:26 PM
I think the "I don't expect you to do anything with this, but here is information as a follow up of our previous conversation" is the appropriate preface to this email. Another option would be to do a short, to the point email to Muffy with Dean clearly cc'd in (responding to the first email so Dean can see it). "I addressed a situation with my student and my classroom. I do not believe there needs to be further discussion between us on this matter."  Dean can see that he doesn't need to follow up with you, but is aware that Muffy is pushing the issue. Muffy can see that you aren't going to fall for her pressuring emails and you will not hesitate to follow the proper chain of command.  (I still don't know that I would do this email, but it does give you another option.)

Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: GSNW on February 27, 2014, 05:44:45 PM
Update:

Did not see Muffy today, thankfully.  Lulu was fine today.

I did see the dean today and she thanked me for bringing it to her attention, and told me what the actual interaction was about.  I mentioned the email, dean asked me to please a) write a statement about the issue and b) save any emails Muffy chooses to send me.  I told her I have no plan to reply or engage with Muffy in the future, but it sounds like the entire issue is much bigger than this incident and will be forwarded to our principal to deal with.

Sometimes I wonder whether I teach kids or work with them!

FWIW, I teach 7th grade science (geoscience).  That lesson is so very cool and can really be expanded upon for multiple age levels and ability levels! 
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on February 27, 2014, 06:22:29 PM
oh, c'mon, you can tell *us* about the whole issue!

We don't know them in real life--it's not -really- gossiping!

Right, everybody? Right?
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on February 27, 2014, 07:33:56 PM
^^right!
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: GreenBird on February 27, 2014, 09:05:03 PM
It sounds like your interaction with the dean went really well - good update!  I think it worked out better that you could just mention the email in a low-key conversation so there was no question that you were just making it available to her if she wanted it, rather than it accidentally getting blown into its own thing.  I think you're navigating this really well! 

(and yes, I'm nosy about the issue too..... ;)) 
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: barefoot_girl on February 28, 2014, 10:45:54 AM
I work in a very different kind of educational establishment (and in a different country to boot), so I am genuinely curious about the way this was handled and how others are suggesting it be handled.

If one of my colleagues made a student cry, I would go and speak to that colleague myself, and tell them that their behaviour was out of order, and not to repeat it around me. I am an adult, and i work with adults, and i feel that this sort of thing is best handled by a face-to-face conversation at the time.

What was the necessity of reporting Muffy's behaviour to the Dean? Is it  SOP, in any case of a disagreement between teaching staff, or was it more that in this case a student was reduced to tears?
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: tinkytinky on February 28, 2014, 11:08:18 AM
As a parent, if an adult made a child cry, I'm right there with you, i would talk to the adult myself. However, in my experience with different schools, there is a fine line to walk and you need to go the proper chain of command.....if she went to Muffy herself to discuss this, there is a very real chance that higher ups will hear about it. Then they have a bigger issue to deal with, co-workers at odds with each other which makes the teaching not as effective. This would go in both professional files and would be brought up in any reviews. Especially considering that Muffy is in an assistant possition, this does not put them on a level spot. So OP could be considered MORE at fault if she confronted her on her own. OP went to the Dean about a student issue. The issue happened to include Muffy.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on February 28, 2014, 11:11:53 AM
I work in a very different kind of educational establishment (and in a different country to boot), so I am genuinely curious about the way this was handled and how others are suggesting it be handled.

If one of my colleagues made a student cry, I would go and speak to that colleague myself, and tell them that their behaviour was out of order, and not to repeat it around me. I am an adult, and i work with adults, and i feel that this sort of thing is best handled by a face-to-face conversation at the time.

What was the necessity of reporting Muffy's behaviour to the Dean? Is it  SOP, in any case of a disagreement between teaching staff, or was it more that in this case a student was reduced to tears?

As I recall, it was more a question: "How should I have handled this?"

Quote
I spoke to the dean during passing period and asked her what to do?

And you know what? Sometimes things are egregious (eggregoose?) enough that I *want* to tell on someone. And sometimes it's because I know that they won't ever recognize -me- as having authority to tell them they were out of line.

Pulling a kid out of class and making her cry is pretty bad, in my opinion.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: whatsanenigma on February 28, 2014, 11:25:03 AM
That is a good update.  Please keep us posted!
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on February 28, 2014, 11:35:29 AM
This situation aside, I wouldn't instantly get upset if a teacher made a child cry.  My oldest is in 7th grade and he can be kind of sensitive and will get choked up when scolded. Heck, even if the adult is not yelling, just giving a kind scolding or rebuke, he gets emotional.*

So some kids might react with tears easily, either crocodile tears to try and get out of trouble, amp up the drama quotient, or make the other person feel guilty and let them off the hook. Or the child is genuinely sensitive and doesn't deal well with being corrected, even if it's kind constructive criticism.

Now on the other hand, I've also run into people who think that anytime a female turns on the tears, she's trying to manipulate someone, or must be in the midst of a cycle.  ::)

But as for the situation at hand, I do think it was terribly inappropriate for Muffy to pull Lulu (who doesn't strike me as a drama queen, based on OP's description)  out of OP's class to harp after her enough to make her cry and miss that much of her lesson.

*Can't imagine who he gets that from...oh yeah, me.*
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: alkira6 on February 28, 2014, 12:15:17 PM
I agree with the actions the OP took. You handled it like an adult and kept the proper people in the loop. In my district there is no way that I would have a one to one with another teacher about behavior.  There are too many seemingly reasonable people who go "hood" in the blink of an eye.  I had a parent do this a couple of weeks ago when I told her that I broke up a wrestling watch her child was involved with in the middle of the hall. She cursed me and threatened to have me arrested  ::)
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Hillia on February 28, 2014, 12:17:29 PM
I think the way Muffy responded to the news that the student cried is a problem. Yes, some kids are more sensitive and cry easily; sometimes a child's behavior has been serious enough that strong words are necessary and the child might cry.  But I would never expect an adult, especially one in a position of authority over that child, to respond with 'So what?'.  An acknowledgement of the child's emotional state and some show that the adult is not indifferent to her suffering would be expected. I would not expect a teacher to ignore a disciplinary situation because of fear as to how a child would react, but I would expect at least some amount of respect and concern for the child's feelings.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on February 28, 2014, 12:37:58 PM
Here's the other thing that struck me about this:

Muffy is " the orchestra assistant "

Is that a teacher?
Is she really in a position in which she is allowed to pull a student out of instruction time? Is she really in a position in which she is allowed to scold a student?
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TurtleDove on February 28, 2014, 12:41:12 PM
At the beginning of the period, during the announcements, the orchestra assistant (Muffy) came and asked for one of my students (Lulu).  They went into the hall. 

A recent post made me go back and look at the OP.  This is kinda confusing to me - OP, why did you let Muffy take Lulu out of class if she didn't have the authority to do so?  Or did she?  Obviously Muffy handled this poorly, but in the future if Muffy (or others) don't have the "right" to call students out of class it would make sense for you to "protect" the students that way - just say, "Sorry, Muffy, you can talk to Lulu later."
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: MorgnsGrl on February 28, 2014, 01:00:32 PM
At the beginning of the period, during the announcements, the orchestra assistant (Muffy) came and asked for one of my students (Lulu).  They went into the hall. 

A recent post made me go back and look at the OP.  This is kinda confusing to me - OP, why did you let Muffy take Lulu out of class if she didn't have the authority to do so?  Or did she?  Obviously Muffy handled this poorly, but in the future if Muffy (or others) don't have the "right" to call students out of class it would make sense for you to "protect" the students that way - just say, "Sorry, Muffy, you can talk to Lulu later."

I don't disagree with this, but in this particular case I'm kind of glad that didn't happen, because otherwise maybe no one would have know about Muffy's uncaring attitude toward students in general or about her unkind behavior toward Lulu in specific.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on February 28, 2014, 01:02:30 PM
Well, when Muffy asked, it wasn't actually classtime; if I were the OP, I'd have expected it to be a short conversation. Like, "we need to reschedule your oboe lesson" or "do you know what happened to that music stand you borrowed?"

Something administrative and short--I certainly wouldn't have expected it to be something contentious enough that anybody would have ended up cross (as Muffy way) or crying (as Lulu was).

A little backseat driving (sorry, GNSW):

Quote
At the end of announcements as I was pairing kids up, she still wasn't back.  I peeked into the hall and they were having an intense conversation.

Actually, at this point, a teacher would have every right (and maybe ought to exercise it) to say, "Sorry, you'll have to finish this later, I need Lulu in class."

Quote

 Started working.  Peeked again.  Now Lulu was crying and Muffy was looking cross.

At this point, to be honest, I'd expect a teacher to break it up and ask the student to return to the classroom.

Quote
  TWENTY MINUTES LATER, Lulu enters my class a sobbing mess.
I sorta think that well before this, a teacher would say, "Give me back my student. It's classtime."


But of course, in real life the teacher is juggling lots of other kids, and the lesson itself, and is sort of "delegating" the job of "having enough common sense to send a student back to the classroom" to Muffy.

(ooh, it's so easy, this backseat driving! I bet I have enough time to make a couple of side trips, it won't take anytime at all!)
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: whatsanenigma on February 28, 2014, 01:05:28 PM
At the beginning of the period, during the announcements, the orchestra assistant (Muffy) came and asked for one of my students (Lulu).  They went into the hall. 

A recent post made me go back and look at the OP.  This is kinda confusing to me - OP, why did you let Muffy take Lulu out of class if she didn't have the authority to do so?  Or did she?  Obviously Muffy handled this poorly, but in the future if Muffy (or others) don't have the "right" to call students out of class it would make sense for you to "protect" the students that way - just say, "Sorry, Muffy, you can talk to Lulu later."

I suspect, though, that OP thought that the conversation would just take a minute or two and that it really was important.  And I highly doubt that Muffy said anything like "I need to talk to Lulu so I can badger her about something and make her cry".  And Lulu doesn't seem like the kind of student who would openly say, "No, please, Miss OP, don't make me go with her"-she probably just wanted to leave the classroom in a dignified manner and get the conversation over with.

I'm sure it all seemed pretty normal, and maybe OP even had reason to think that the orchestra director had sent the assistant to do something-and as proxy for the actual director, that could carry more weight in terms of allowing a student to be taken out of class for a moment or two.

Bottom line, though, is that hindsight is 20/20.  The OP did what seemed reasonable at the time, and I am sure that knowing now what she didn't know then, she will in the future do exactly what you suggest.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: whatsanenigma on February 28, 2014, 01:11:15 PM
Well, when Muffy asked, it wasn't actually classtime; if I were the OP, I'd have expected it to be a short conversation. Like, "we need to reschedule your oboe lesson" or "do you know what happened to that music stand you borrowed?"

Something administrative and short--I certainly wouldn't have expected it to be something contentious enough that anybody would have ended up cross (as Muffy way) or crying (as Lulu was).

A little backseat driving (sorry, GNSW):

Quote
At the end of announcements as I was pairing kids up, she still wasn't back.  I peeked into the hall and they were having an intense conversation.

Actually, at this point, a teacher would have every right (and maybe ought to exercise it) to say, "Sorry, you'll have to finish this later, I need Lulu in class."

Quote

 Started working.  Peeked again.  Now Lulu was crying and Muffy was looking cross.

At this point, to be honest, I'd expect a teacher to break it up and ask the student to return to the classroom.

Quote
  TWENTY MINUTES LATER, Lulu enters my class a sobbing mess.
I sorta think that well before this, a teacher would say, "Give me back my student. It's classtime."


But of course, in real life the teacher is juggling lots of other kids, and the lesson itself, and is sort of "delegating" the job of "having enough common sense to send a student back to the classroom" to Muffy.

(ooh, it's so easy, this backseat driving! I bet I have enough time to make a couple of side trips, it won't take anytime at all!)

I agree with this post a lot, and I think you make a good point when you give specific examples about what an orchestra director might need to talk to a student about for a minute and why it would require that the student leave class for a moment.  A rescheduling of a lesson, especially on short notice, would be something a student needed to know about ASAP, and a misplaced music stand (or any number of other things) could mean that the students in the next class are somehow inconvienenced.  Band or orchestra is not the same as a regular class would be, in that aspect, I think, and I think that based on the information the OP had at the time, she did what was reasonable...especially if she thought the request might be coming from the actual director.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TurtleDove on February 28, 2014, 01:14:53 PM
What I took from TootsNYC's post (which I agree with) was that the OP probably should have noticed Lulu was gone past the announcements and called her in before she missed any of the actual class time, let alone twenty minutes of it.  Monday morning quarterbacking, but still.  :)
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: lowspark on February 28, 2014, 01:40:12 PM
LOL yeah, I think it's Monday morning quarterbacking. I can see GSNW being caught up in the process of dealing with kids, getting the lesson started, etc. and just not thinking about LuLu. Especially if, before this incident, GSNW had no reason to think anything more of Muffy other than she's a fellow instructor in the school. I would think that now, if a similar thing happened, that is, Muffy pulling a kid out into the hall for a chat, GSNW would be on high alert.

But you know, when you're in the midst of doing your job, 20 minutes can fly by with hardly a notice until you suddenly realize so much time has passed.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: GSNW on February 28, 2014, 02:51:51 PM
So, another good update!

I totally agree with the "quarterbacking" assessments - and I do this to myself too, FWIW, because REFLECTION.

To address a few questions or respond to a few points:

1.  Not unusual for the music dept at our school to pull kids (this is another issue entirely, but it's normal) for various stuff.  I assumed Muffy wanted to talk about a bow or a fiddle or something.  We have three music teachers (band, choir, and orchestra), and they each have an assistant.

2.  Muffy is not licensed personnel.  She cannot be alone with a classroom of students, for example, nor is she "qualified" in the way that licensed staff are qualified.  Of course, that in no way makes me her supervisor - her supervisor isn't even the orchestra teacher, her supervisor is the dean (each one of our administrators supervises different departments).  *My* supervisor is our assistant principal, who I would have spoken to had I seen him first.  Actually, if it had been the principal, same story -- here's what happened, what do I do?  If anything?

3.  I would not have dreamed of approaching Muffy myself.  There are teachers on campus I would talk to if I had an issue/problem with how something was handled, Muffy isn't one of them.  Aside from the fact that a child was in great distress is Muffy's known quick temper and instances where I have observed her to be quite irrational. 

4.  Crying kids - I have made kids cry before, maybe five or less times that I can recall, as the result of a firm discussion or them hearing something they didn't like.  I do not like making kids cry and I feel badly if they do, but (reflection!) if I can honestly say I would have said exactly what I did if my AP was observing me at the moment, I am OK with it.  It's definitely not a "so what?" situation, more that I'm sorry the kid is upset about whatever it is they needed to hear - or in one instance I can think of, I was relieved to see an emotional response to a serious issue.

It is not so much that there was crying, but the kid that was doing the crying - Lulu is a kid that works hard in all of her classes (as evidenced by academic and citizenship grades), she is polite, she is a joy to have in class - truly a pleasure to teach.  All kids, even those types, make mistakes - but her obvious distress after a confrontational conversation with her orchestra assistant made me instantly question what the heck Muffy thought she was doing.  As I said before, if the situation was serious enough to warrant that kind of confrontation, it probably should have been handled through the dean's office or other progressive discipline.

So here is what apparently happened:

Lulu was in the music hall in the morning (before school).  Muffy saw her and made a remark about Lulu's dress (which is within dress code and she's been wearing it all year), something like, "That shows too much skin and is not appropriate." 

Lulu replied that she had worn it before, Muffy apparently went on a rant about how "In my day we didn't dress so trashy, we respected what our instructors said," etc etc.  Lulu got upset and left.  What Muffy was basically doing (in my opinion) was trying to cover her butt because she knew what she said to Lulu was not cool.  Interestingly enough, the dean already knew about the conversation in the music hall because another teacher overheard it and told the dean about it. 

Lulu came to talk to me again during class today.  She is afraid of retribution from Muffy.  She said that Muffy has been trying very hard to act buddy-buddy with her in orchestra, asking her how she is doing, pressing her for more details, etc.  If Lulu doesn't open up to her (beyond "I am fine, thank you," Muffy becomes annoyed and starts asking more specific questions ("How are your other classes, is everything OK?  Are you SURE?  Is ANYTHING bothering you?" and this is making Lulu quite uncomfortable.  I was able to help her through the teachings of eHell, which was great!

I talked to Lulu about polite spine.  I told her it is okay to say, "I am fine Ms. Muffy, but I would like to concentrate on my instrument."  Or, "Please don't keep asking me - I'm fine but I want to string my bow."  Lulu has also asked me and her other teachers NOT to let Muffy pull her from class again (which we are comfortable doing and it speaks volumes that no one asked her why). 

I also told Lulu that she needs to remain polite with Muffy but is not required, due to her being a student, to engage in personal conversation with her - and if Muffy presses the issue to TELL ANY OTHER ADULT. 

It is a tough lesson for kids when they figure out that not all adults can be trusted.

The other good news is that I haven't seen Muffy around or heard from her at all, so I feel like I'm in the clear on that.


Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on February 28, 2014, 02:56:37 PM
So she was haranguing the kid about her dress?

Who does Muffy think she is?

I would imagine that even *you* can't make a student go home and change clothes without going through the office.

Why would she not think that she needed to get an administrator to deal with a dress-code violation.
  (and yes, I know I didn't put a question mark at the end of that, bcs I really don't expect an answer)
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: jedikaiti on February 28, 2014, 03:01:38 PM
I work in a very different kind of educational establishment (and in a different country to boot), so I am genuinely curious about the way this was handled and how others are suggesting it be handled.

If one of my colleagues made a student cry, I would go and speak to that colleague myself, and tell them that their behaviour was out of order, and not to repeat it around me. I am an adult, and i work with adults, and i feel that this sort of thing is best handled by a face-to-face conversation at the time.

What was the necessity of reporting Muffy's behaviour to the Dean? Is it  SOP, in any case of a disagreement between teaching staff, or was it more that in this case a student was reduced to tears?

A person of authority in a school should NOT be making students cry like that. It's one thing if a kid cries or has a tantrum because they aren't allowed to have a piece of candy, or recess is over, or something like that. Dragging a child out of class for an extended period and making them sob to the point that they effectively miss an entire class period is COMPLETELY out of line and in that case the higher-ups need to be made aware of the situation so they can handle it appropriately.


ETA: Just saw OP's update.

She pulled a kid out of class to berate and insult her over a CLOTHING CHOICE? Not an egregious one, but one that's well within school guidelines and has been worn previously without problem? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Muffy needs to NOT be working with children, and should not be allowed to have one-on-one contact with Lulu, or unsupervised contact with any student.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: lowspark on February 28, 2014, 03:34:16 PM
Thanks for that update! Can I just say, I'm totally weirded out by Muffy's behavior toward Lulu. Does she act like that with any other student? One thing I might have done is tell Lulu to make the dean or vice principal or principal aware of the inappropriate behavior that Muffy has displayed. Especially the part about Lulu fearing retribution. Lulu needs to feel safe at school and it doesn't sound like she does. Although it's really great that she is able to trust you and her other teachers aside from Muffy.

If Lulu doesn't feel comfortable telling speaking with the higher-ups about this, I probably would go ahead and take it upon myself to do so. I know the advice has been against putting yourself in the center of this or making it seem like you can't get along with Muffy but I think this is a case of the children's welfare being paramount and Muffy's behavior is worrisome.


Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: JanaL on February 28, 2014, 04:10:41 PM
Former high school band director here (now in higher ed)...I'm shocked (and a bit jealous) to hear about a music program that actually has an assistant!  :o

Does Muffy have a supervisor in the music department? I think a music teacher would want to know if someone representing the department is being disrespectful toward classroom teachers' instructional time.  In my experience, most music teachers go out of our way to ensure students aren't missing more class than they have to- and the success of our programs depend on that mutual goodwill among faculty.  Muffy's behavior is outrageous- first to that poor child, then to OP, and her abusive emailing is a potential PR disaster for the music department, too. Who else might Muffy feel entitled to lash out at?

If you are comfortable doing so, I'd also recommend mentioning the incident to the appropriate person in the Music Department.  An assistant should probably be making copies, sending emails, tracking sheet music and inventory- or even helping out in lessons if they are musically inclined- they certainly don't need to be running children down in the halls as the wardrobe police.  How odd.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on February 28, 2014, 04:13:04 PM
I think the dean can deal with mentioning Muffy's screw-up to her supervisor.

But I would encourage Lulu to talk to the dean or to the top music person about the badgering, sucking-up kind of stuff that Muffy is doing. It's uncomfortable for her. And inappropriate.
   And even if Muffy is just trying to smooth things over, it's creating a very uncomfortable place for Lulu.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: artk2002 on February 28, 2014, 04:18:16 PM
Thanks for the updates. My feeling is that Muffy belongs in the "Professional Darwinism" thread. She's crossing boundaries right and left. I would make sure that Lulu knows to talk to her counselor or dean about Muffy's excessive interest. That's a very worrisome sign.

Brava to you, OP, for helping Lulu through this.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: LeveeWoman on February 28, 2014, 04:28:31 PM
Telling a kid that age that she dresses "trashy" probably is heard by the teen that she herself is trash, and with girls, it might be tantamount to calling her a sl#t.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: jedikaiti on February 28, 2014, 04:56:43 PM
I think the dean can deal with mentioning Muffy's screw-up to her supervisor.

But I would encourage Lulu to talk to the dean or to the top music person about the badgering, sucking-up kind of stuff that Muffy is doing. It's uncomfortable for her. And inappropriate.
   And even if Muffy is just trying to smooth things over, it's creating a very uncomfortable place for Lulu.

Absolutely. This, so many times over.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on February 28, 2014, 05:25:06 PM
Muffy reminds me of Professor Umbridge, and hopefully her time in your school won't be too long.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: RegionMom on February 28, 2014, 05:31:53 PM
Was subbing 7th/8th grade in a private school with a strict dress code.  Even outerwear (sweatshirts, jackets, coats) must be school color.  But that can be from medium blue to almost black/blue, so not a hardship to find a way to stay warm. 

Had a teacher tell me that "Susie" got to wear her non-school color jacket one day, because she was popping out of her blouse.  She had been "blossoming" and had outgrown her shirt.  So, an e-mail had gone out to not fuss at Susie for being out of dress code. 

I thought that was a simple was to take care of it.  Respectful to Susie, no fuss, no embarrassment. 

Pulling out a student for something that a dozen other teachers had already seen- I mean, if her dress was so bad, she would be sent to the office/parents called/uniform infraction, etc...whatever was deemed necessary, is just sounding like there is something weird in this relationship. 

Maybe one time Lulu confided in her, and now Muffy is playing killer mommy?

(I also was jealous to hear of music assistants!)
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: GSNW on February 28, 2014, 06:20:40 PM
Yeah - with dress codes it *can* be very subjective (there are some obvious and not-so-obvious infractions).  Usually I will send a kid to the dean, and it's the dean's call.  They have PE clothes in the office for kids to wear when they violate dress code, so it's really not a big deal.

Lulu spoke to the dean yesterday and so the dean is aware, and Lulu knows to tell anyone - including her actual orchestra teacher - if Muffy is making her uncomfortable at any point.

The sad thing is that Muffy was, once upon a time, a great orchestra assistant.  She is very knowledgeable and I can imagine that it would be nice to have help when 60 6th-grade beginning strings students are screeching away.

Part of the problem is that Muffy is angry and bitter over the loss of our previous orchestra teacher, who we shall call Perry.  Perry was a wonderful teacher loved by all the kids.  He really did amazing things with that program.  Muffy was obviously obsessed with Perry, and not in a healthy way (she is 25 years older and Perry is married to another teacher that works here.)  Last year, Perry got a student teacher, Babs.  Babs proved to be a great talent in the classroom and when Perry took a job at an area high school, Babs was immediately hired on to replace him.

Muffy dislikes Babs and makes it pretty obvious - they have been butting heads all year, from what I understand.  At one point Muffy was made to help out in the front office to give a week of "cool-down time" (during this time Muffy was not allowed in the orchestra room).  Babs is a first-year teacher trying to establish herself in the classroom and Muffy has been more difficult to deal with than some of the kids!  Muffy was resentful last year of the attention Perry paid to Babs and is resentful this year that she is still here and Perry didn't take her "with him" to his new position.

I don't know why admin doesn't get rid of her, but I know firing people in our district can be incredibly difficult -- and I don't have all the information our admin surely does. 
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Carotte on February 28, 2014, 06:35:51 PM
So wait, Muffy had made some nasty comment to Lullu that morning, then went back later that day to berate her for the same reason while Lullu should have been in class?  :o
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: greencat on February 28, 2014, 06:42:06 PM
I had a very similar situation with a coworker I can also only describe as nasty - not involving a student, but involving a complaint about that coworker's work ethics, or lack of them as it was.  Our boss came in and talked to the group of us, and after all our supervisors left for the day, she opened her mouth and started lecturing the rest of us about "Tattling" to the boss instead of talking to her directly.  The first problem was that we had already tried to address it with her directly with no result.  The second problem is that coworkers are not students in a kindergarten class and the handling of workflow-related issues, even those exacerbated by a personality problem, is in fact the duty of management.  Coworkers do not "tattle" on each other when they relay serious issues to management, especially when they affect "customer" interactions - for educators, the students are the "customers" in the arrangement.


I'm glad your management team is on top of this, although I do hope that Muffy is dealt with soon for the sake of the students and the new orchestra teacher.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: AlephReish on February 28, 2014, 08:50:13 PM
GNSW, good for you - you've advocated for your student. It sounds like the administration may be trying to build a file to work on the process to fire Muffy.

I'm currently teaching 8th grade earth science as a maternity leave replacement - I wish I would be with my students long enough to use that lesson! (We're covering weather right now, and I leave before we get to the fun stuff.)
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: cicero on February 28, 2014, 11:18:15 PM

Lulu was in the music hall in the morning (before school).  Muffy saw her and made a remark about Lulu's dress (which is within dress code and she's been wearing it all year), something like, "That shows too much skin and is not appropriate." 

Lulu replied that she had worn it before, Muffy apparently went on a rant about how "In my day we didn't dress so trashy, we respected what our instructors said," etc etc.  Lulu got upset and left.  What Muffy was basically doing (in my opinion) was trying to cover her butt because she knew what she said to Lulu was not cool.  Interestingly enough, the dean already knew about the conversation in the music hall because another teacher overheard it and told the dean about it. 

Lulu came to talk to me again during class today.  She is afraid of retribution from Muffy.  She said that Muffy has been trying very hard to act buddy-buddy with her in orchestra, asking her how she is doing, pressing her for more details, etc.  If Lulu doesn't open up to her (beyond "I am fine, thank you," Muffy becomes annoyed and starts asking more specific questions ("How are your other classes, is everything OK?  Are you SURE?  Is ANYTHING bothering you?" and this is making Lulu quite uncomfortable.  I was able to help her through the teachings of eHell, which was great!

I talked to Lulu about polite spine.  I told her it is okay to say, "I am fine Ms. Muffy, but I would like to concentrate on my instrument."  Or, "Please don't keep asking me - I'm fine but I want to string my bow."  Lulu has also asked me and her other teachers NOT to let Muffy pull her from class again (which we are comfortable doing and it speaks volumes that no one asked her why). 

I also told Lulu that she needs to remain polite with Muffy but is not required, due to her being a student, to engage in personal conversation with her - and if Muffy presses the issue to TELL ANY OTHER ADULT. 

It is a tough lesson for kids when they figure out that not all adults can be trusted.

The other good news is that I haven't seen Muffy around or heard from her at all, so I feel like I'm in the clear on that.

Thank you for helping lulu thru this. I have to say that my creep-o-meter went way up when I read this update . this person should not interact with children, she is very very inappropriate. She called this girl trashy, berated her for being "disrespectful" and now is trying to be her friend in a creepy way. I don't like this at all.

Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Danika on March 01, 2014, 02:17:49 AM
Thank you for helping lulu thru this. I have to say that my creep-o-meter went way up when I read this update . this person should not interact with children, she is very very inappropriate. She called this girl trashy, berated her for being "disrespectful" and now is trying to be her friend in a creepy way. I don't like this at all.

POD. I was thinking the same things. Plus, it's noteworthy that she's targeting a student who's known for being well-behaved and who tries to work hard. That's generally the kind of child who follows instructions and doesn't like to make waves. It's someone who is easier to push-around and intimidate and who is less likely to fight back. I don't like any of this. I'm glad that OP and the dean are aware of the problem. It's sad that Lulu had to tell all her teachers not to let her get pulled out of class though. OP, I'm glad you're instructing her that she doesn't have to make polite chit-chat with Muffy if she doesn't want to.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: JoieGirl7 on March 01, 2014, 02:59:55 AM
So, after bullying her, the woman harasses her to find out the extent of what she has maybe told others.  That's horrible!

Has anyone had a talk with Lulu's mom and dad?

If Lulu were my child I would want assurances that Muffy would not be interacting with my child again, assistant or not.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: barefoot_girl on March 01, 2014, 04:20:36 AM
OK, having read all the updates, I would like to apologise and change my mind. I think you were ABSOLUTELY right to contact the Dean about Muffy's behaviour, because this woman sounds utterly appalling and (to my mind) someone who really isn't appropriate to be around children. In fact, i find her whole pattern of behaviour around Lulu to be really disturbing and worrying, and i think that someone higher up the school needs to be talking to Lulu and possibly Lulu's parents as well.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on March 01, 2014, 06:03:24 AM
Just pod'ing those who find Muffy creepy!
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Auntie Mame on March 01, 2014, 10:56:43 AM
Oh that poor kid! Muffy is beyond appalling.  I am so glad Lulu has so many people supporting her.

From here on out, hen it comes to Muffy, document every interaction, save every email and keep your eyes peeled.  I will bet my favorite pair of stilettos that the Dean is building a case to fire her.  This would not be "tattling" or "stirring the pot", this would be proetcting kids from Muffy.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on March 01, 2014, 02:09:34 PM
Sounds like Muffy has no business working in a school.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: whatsanenigma on March 01, 2014, 02:19:35 PM
Oh that poor kid! Muffy is beyond appalling.  I am so glad Lulu has so many people supporting her.

From here on out, hen it comes to Muffy, document every interaction, save every email and keep your eyes peeled.  I will bet my favorite pair of stilettos that the Dean is building a case to fire her.  This would not be "tattling" or "stirring the pot", this would be proetcting kids from Muffy.

I agree! And I found this sentence in the OP's update to be very encouraging:

Quote
Interestingly enough, the dean already knew about the conversation in the music hall because another teacher overheard it and told the dean about it. 

Obviously the atmosphere at this school is such that the dean is open to hearing these things and will take action, if another random teacher overheard and took the problem to the dean.  (Why that teacher didn't directly intervene at the time is another question, but, again, hindsight is 20/20.)

I'm wondering if there might even be more to this story, not in the sense that Lulu did anything wrong, but that maybe she has a better working relationship with Babs than Muffy would like.  (It sounds like Lulu plays a violin-don't the violinists have a closer relationship with the conductor than those who play other instruments, especially the first chair? I don't know much about orchestras, especially not at this level.) 

Maybe Muffy expected that the students would get up in arms about the departure of Perry, and when the expected protest was not forthcoming, she decided to take it out on someone and Lulu just happened to look good. Maybe she even overheard Lulu saying something nice about Babs and somehow is taking it personally.  Who knows? Muffy seems to just have some serious problems and poor Lulu is just caught in her wrath for no fault of Lulu's and no way she can fix it without help-which it sounds like she has, from the OP and other adults at the school.

I also feel sorry for Babs-she's going to lose good orchestra members if this keeps up.  And it's going to be more difficult for her to pull students out of class for a few moments for fully legitimate reasons, if Muffy loses the credibility needed to do it on her behalf (which it sounds like she might, regarding all students, not just Lulu) and teachers just refuse to allow it at all.

I'm glad the dean and the other teachers are on top of it and I hope the story of Muffy eventually  has cause to find its way to the professional darwinism thread!
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: whatsanenigma on March 01, 2014, 02:24:05 PM
One other thought here: Does Perry know about all this?*  It sounds like he still needs to watch out for Muffy, who might try to get hired at the school where he is now if she gets fired from this one-or at least try to volunteer or something.  And if Perry and the staff there don't know about the fact that her obsession with Perry is continuing, there could be some real problems.

*I know Perry knew about it while he was the director at OP's school, but he might think her behavior stopped when he left.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on March 01, 2014, 03:33:30 PM
I also think it's ridiculous that Muffy seems to think Perry should have taken her with him when he went to his new school....since when does hiring someone mean you're hiring them and all their subordinates??  If I took another job in a different shop, I wouldn't be expecting to bring my assistant along...they hired me, not both of us.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: artk2002 on March 01, 2014, 04:59:12 PM
I also think it's ridiculous that Muffy seems to think Perry should have taken her with him when he went to his new school....since when does hiring someone mean you're hiring them and all their subordinates??  If I took another job in a different shop, I wouldn't be expecting to bring my assistant along...they hired me, not both of us.

I wonder if Perry didn't deliberately avoid taking Muffy with him. From OP's description it sounds like she was obsessing on him to an extent. If I were Perry, I'd want to get away from that.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on March 01, 2014, 05:15:29 PM
My thought also, Art!

And that's why I disagree with this:

One other thought here: Does Perry know about all this?*  It sounds like he still needs to watch out for Muffy, who might try to get hired at the school where he is now if she gets fired from this one-or at least try to volunteer or something.  And if Perry and the staff there don't know about the fact that her obsession with Perry is continuing, there could be some real problems.

*I know Perry knew about it while he was the director at OP's school, but he might think her behavior stopped when he left.

I wouldn't be taking any of this to Perry--he's out of the picture, and the last thing he needs is for someone to drag him back in. He can deal w/ any "Muffy trying to get hired at the school where he is now" if it ever happens.

Until then, the guy deserves his peace.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: whatsanenigma on March 01, 2014, 05:52:46 PM
My thought also, Art!

And that's why I disagree with this:

One other thought here: Does Perry know about all this?*  It sounds like he still needs to watch out for Muffy, who might try to get hired at the school where he is now if she gets fired from this one-or at least try to volunteer or something.  And if Perry and the staff there don't know about the fact that her obsession with Perry is continuing, there could be some real problems.

*I know Perry knew about it while he was the director at OP's school, but he might think her behavior stopped when he left.

I wouldn't be taking any of this to Perry--he's out of the picture, and the last thing he needs is for someone to drag him back in. He can deal w/ any "Muffy trying to get hired at the school where he is now" if it ever happens.

Until then, the guy deserves his peace.

Should the administration at the other school be notified at least, I wonder.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 01, 2014, 09:31:21 PM
I also think it's ridiculous that Muffy seems to think Perry should have taken her with him when he went to his new school....since when does hiring someone mean you're hiring them and all their subordinates??  If I took another job in a different shop, I wouldn't be expecting to bring my assistant along...they hired me, not both of us.

I wonder if Perry didn't deliberately avoid taking Muffy with him. From OP's description it sounds like she was obsessing on him to an extent. If I were Perry, I'd want to get away from that.

Like the citizens of Tokyo fleeing Godzilla!

Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on March 01, 2014, 11:10:12 PM
My thought also, Art!

And that's why I disagree with this:

One other thought here: Does Perry know about all this?*  It sounds like he still needs to watch out for Muffy, who might try to get hired at the school where he is now if she gets fired from this one-or at least try to volunteer or something.  And if Perry and the staff there don't know about the fact that her obsession with Perry is continuing, there could be some real problems.

*I know Perry knew about it while he was the director at OP's school, but he might think her behavior stopped when he left.

I wouldn't be taking any of this to Perry--he's out of the picture, and the last thing he needs is for someone to drag him back in. He can deal w/ any "Muffy trying to get hired at the school where he is now" if it ever happens.

Until then, the guy deserves his peace.

Should the administration at the other school be notified at least, I wonder.

Why on earth should they be? This has absolutely nothing to do with them.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: JeanFromBNA on March 01, 2014, 11:28:57 PM

Why on earth should they be? This has absolutely nothing to do with them.


Lulu's parents, OTOH, need to know.  If she were my daughter, I would be livid and making a big deal out of this.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Queen of Clubs on March 02, 2014, 10:39:58 AM

Lulu's parents, OTOH, need to know.  If she were my daughter, I would be livid and making a big deal out of this.

I agree with this.  Sheesh, poor Lulu!
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: whatsanenigma on March 02, 2014, 11:25:17 AM
My thought also, Art!

And that's why I disagree with this:

One other thought here: Does Perry know about all this?*  It sounds like he still needs to watch out for Muffy, who might try to get hired at the school where he is now if she gets fired from this one-or at least try to volunteer or something.  And if Perry and the staff there don't know about the fact that her obsession with Perry is continuing, there could be some real problems.

*I know Perry knew about it while he was the director at OP's school, but he might think her behavior stopped when he left.

I wouldn't be taking any of this to Perry--he's out of the picture, and the last thing he needs is for someone to drag him back in. He can deal w/ any "Muffy trying to get hired at the school where he is now" if it ever happens.

Until then, the guy deserves his peace.

Should the administration at the other school be notified at least, I wonder.

Why on earth should they be? This has absolutely nothing to do with them.

Well, honestly, I think that if I were working somewhere and a co-worker was this obsessed with me, and then I left and she was still obsessing, being mad at me that I didn't take her with me, and harassing students for no reason and not getting along with the new person in my position....well, I don't want to jump to any conclusions but I think I would want to know about it so I could make extra sure my doors were locked at night, maybe is a good way to say it. 

I am just thinking that maybe Perry needs to know about this so he can make his own choices about what might be good for him to do for his own well being, KWIM? And the reason I mentioned the administration of where he works now is that if anything inappropriate is going to happen, it might happen at the school or in some way regarding the school.

It's just a thought and maybe not at all necessary, but I thought I would put it out there, because...well, people are strange and strange things happen.  And I am sure that Perry has seen a lot more strangeness from Muffy than we have or even OP has-or, at least, the specific character of it.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: PastryGoddess on March 02, 2014, 12:51:49 PM
My thought also, Art!

And that's why I disagree with this:

One other thought here: Does Perry know about all this?*  It sounds like he still needs to watch out for Muffy, who might try to get hired at the school where he is now if she gets fired from this one-or at least try to volunteer or something.  And if Perry and the staff there don't know about the fact that her obsession with Perry is continuing, there could be some real problems.

*I know Perry knew about it while he was the director at OP's school, but he might think her behavior stopped when he left.

I wouldn't be taking any of this to Perry--he's out of the picture, and the last thing he needs is for someone to drag him back in. He can deal w/ any "Muffy trying to get hired at the school where he is now" if it ever happens.

Until then, the guy deserves his peace.

Should the administration at the other school be notified at least, I wonder.

Why on earth should they be? This has absolutely nothing to do with them.

Well, honestly, I think that if I were working somewhere and a co-worker was this obsessed with me, and then I left and she was still obsessing, being mad at me that I didn't take her with me, and harassing students for no reason and not getting along with the new person in my position....well, I don't want to jump to any conclusions but I think I would want to know about it so I could make extra sure my doors were locked at night, maybe is a good way to say it. 

I am just thinking that maybe Perry needs to know about this so he can make his own choices about what might be good for him to do for his own well being, KWIM? And the reason I mentioned the administration of where he works now is that if anything inappropriate is going to happen, it might happen at the school or in some way regarding the school.

It's just a thought and maybe not at all necessary, but I thought I would put it out there, because...well, people are strange and strange things happen.  And I am sure that Perry has seen a lot more strangeness from Muffy than we have or even OP has-or, at least, the specific character of it.

I think you're jumping to conclusions that are unwarranted.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: Hillia on March 02, 2014, 12:55:51 PM
I could see maybe, maybe giving Perry a heads up, but any info to his new employer should come from Perry and Perry alone.  There is no indication that Muffy is any sort of physical threat to anyone, and making a bigger deal of it than necessary to his employer can't do Perry any favors.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: TootsNYC on March 02, 2014, 01:57:56 PM

Well, honestly, I think that if I were working somewhere and a co-worker was this obsessed with me, and then I left and she was still obsessing, being mad at me that I didn't take her with me, and harassing students for no reason and not getting along with the new person in my position....well, I don't want to jump to any conclusions but I think I would want to know about it so I could make extra sure my doors were locked at night, maybe is a good way to say it. 

I am just thinking that maybe Perry needs to know about this so he can make his own choices about what might be good for him to do for his own well being, KWIM? And the reason I mentioned the administration of where he works now is that if anything inappropriate is going to happen, it might happen at the school or in some way regarding the school.

It's just a thought and maybe not at all necessary, but I thought I would put it out there, because...well, people are strange and strange things happen.  And I am sure that Perry has seen a lot more strangeness from Muffy than we have or even OP has-or, at least, the specific character of it.

This is nothing to do with Perry or his new school.
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: GSNW on March 03, 2014, 11:13:59 AM
The good news there is that Perry is well aware.  His wife still works here and she is good friends with our choir teacher, who has been mentoring Babs as a new fine arts teacher and whose shoulder Babs has cried on (understandably).  So no need for me to stick my nose in there!
Title: Re: Goal for Today: Ignore Nasty Co-Worker
Post by: jedikaiti on March 03, 2014, 11:38:13 AM
The good news there is that Perry is well aware.  His wife still works here and she is good friends with our choir teacher, who has been mentoring Babs as a new fine arts teacher and whose shoulder Babs has cried on (understandably).  So no need for me to stick my nose in there!

Good. One less thing to worry about.