Got fired from being a teacher, effective next week

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Fire
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31 May 2012, 12:51 am

I'm kind of down about it, I thought everything was going so well.

A little background. I'm a teacher. Ironically, I am a special education teacher who specializes in autism. I was actually diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as well as ADHD after I became a teacher. I also have mild Tourettes. I am not "put of the closet" about any of those things except for the tourettes which is kind of hard to hide anyway.

I was doing really well at one school as the inclusion teacher. I had been working there as a parapro but because of my skills got promoted once I got certified to teach. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Socioogy with minor in math. I also went through a teacher certification program. Its my first year teaching. I got transferred to a different school because of a budget problem. They didn't want to let me go but they were forced to as I was the most recent one hired.

The new school is where things went down hill. Since I am certified in special education and math, they put me in charge of a varying exceptionalities class with students with severe behavior problems, rather than autism, most of them had emotional disturbances, oppositional defiant disorders. Although a few just had an intellectual disability and were some of my best students at that time, never giving me any trouble other than needing help. 1 week in, with little communication or support from the administration, or even a curriculum for that matter, I got called in to the principal's office. My classroom management skill were not going over well at all. For one, I had never actually been in charge of a classroom before and a mentor who they appointed later told me that the class they put me in charge of would be very difficult for even an experienced teacher. My attitude had been to treat them, the way I would want to be treated. I didn't want to be a hard ass like the teachers I had always hated. But I wasn't very good at picking up on when the students were lying to me (and they lied a lot.)

Let me not mince words. My principal is an as*hole. He is about as approachable as a Sith Lord. Talking to him is like talking to Darth Vader where you feel like he will force choke you for "failing him for the last time." The school I teach at is a failing school and he was brought in to get it in line. He was not understanding at all about my inexperience or the culture shock of switching schools, communities, or working with a completely different set of skills. I pretty much wound up on his s**t list of f**k ups then and there.

Luck would have it that there was a vacancy in the autism department which I was moved to and things have been going lot better since then. It was about here that I actually was officially diagnosed. I went to a psychiatrist and a therapist about the tics and the depression (caused by the stresses at work).

Though there have been problems. For one, I haven't been allowed to go to trainings. I would speculate this is because the principal had been planning on letting me go this whole time. Also our state has a new metric for evaluating teachers that requires a certain number of observations as well as feedback from the administration. No such feedback was given. When I went to the district about it, I got called in to a meeting with the principal where he told me we had a number of meetings. I told him we din't and he said we did "Do you understand?" I told him I didn't understand. He told me he could end my career forever with a stroke of a pen. I later found out that he was essentially telling me to lie, I just didn't pick up on it right away since he expected me to "read between the lines" as he could not outright tell me to lie.

Incidentally I really hate that so much that happens in the business involves rules that aren't really rules. Or "looking good on paper." I love the teaching part of teaching. I feel like I am really making a difference in the lives of these teens. The ever increasing amount of paperwork and documentation for every little thing is kind of a pain in the ass but just the other day I had parents tell me how much they enjoy finally having someone who understands teaching their kids. I have great rapport with the students, my supervisor, and my colleagues. It's just that principal. He has a reputation as bully and has fired entire departments before. The "hammer fell" so to speak last week when I was informed, first by the union and then by him that he was not only not renewing my contract but making it so I couldn't work in the system for a year.

So that's my story, mostly I'm just venting. I'm going to try and find another job, maybe actually finish my manuscript.



ictus75
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31 May 2012, 2:56 am

Sorry to hear of your situation. One thing you might do, if your union is more than just a tool of the administration, is to file a complaint against the principal as to his behavior, especially him saying you had meetings that never occurred (if they were required meetings, there should be records of them in your file). It might not help you get your job back, but may just give you a more positive ending.

Good luck on your future.


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Fire
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31 May 2012, 10:59 pm

I've been encouraged to try and get a letter of recommendation from him which is not going to be fun. The less I talk to this guy the happier my day is.



visagrunt
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01 Jun 2012, 12:22 pm

Are teacher's unionized in your state? Or do they have a professional association that can go to bat for you?

No one should accept this kind of behaviour from a principal. At a minimum a complaint of harassment seems well founded, and you probably have a good case to sue for wrongful dismissal--which would bring the school district down on the principal in short order. (And if it got you reinstated would ensure that you never got assigned to a school with that principal again).

That being said, is teaching the place you want to be? Knowing that the the education bureaucracy produced a principal like this, is this an environment in which you want to work? Would your skills be better used at a private or independent school, perhaps?


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Fire
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09 Jul 2012, 9:49 am

I wouldn't say its harassment exactly. He's just a hard ass. He gets away with it because he turned the school's grade around so he is perceived as a renegade but one who gets the job done.

Anyway, I got a letter from the union saying they basically got my job back. But it won't necessarily be at the same school. The good news is that I won't have to work under him. The bad news is that I won't be working with the same people or the same kids. I really like working with teens with autism, probably because on some level we're on the same wavelength but the new assignment could be anywhere, gen ed, day treatment, even working at the prison school.



ooo
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22 Jul 2012, 12:27 am

Fire wrote:
I wouldn't say its harassment exactly. He's just a hard ass. He gets away with it because he turned the school's grade around so he is perceived as a renegade but one who gets the job done.

Anyway, I got a letter from the union saying they basically got my job back. But it won't necessarily be at the same school. The good news is that I won't have to work under him. The bad news is that I won't be working with the same people or the same kids.


Transferring schools within the distract sounds like the ideal solution.

I'm sure you'll miss your students and the type of classroom you had...

You don't want to work under someone who says they'll cease your career with a stroke of a pen.

Maybe the district will place you in a decent school in a classroom setting you want. Does your distract allow you to request a transfer later?

Congrats on getting the job again.



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21 Aug 2014, 11:42 am

Well, you said it yourself, he has fired entire departments before, so it isn't you personally, it is him. I know it will be tough without a job, but at least it doesn't seem to be your fault.



katiesBoyfriend
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21 Aug 2014, 11:51 am

It's a sad fact that the educational system is filled with such people. Bullying and harassment is widespread and can happen to anybody.

I used to teach at a certain post-secondary institution. I endured years of harassment and abuse for reasons I never officially found out.

I suspect that envy as the reason. When I started, I had a master's degree. When I quit a dozen years ago, I added one more master's and a Ph. D. (the institution allowed me time off for that). I had also become a member of Mensa and Intertel. Those qualifications alone made me stand out from the rest of the department, and you know what happens to nails that stick out, don't you?

On top of that, I was, and still am, unmarried and I wasn't dating anyone. My lack of a marital status inspired a number of rumours about my personal life and the fact that I rarely talked about it only confirmed those allegations in the minds of my accusers.

I eventually quit but under terms that I dictated, though not necessarily ones that I liked.

By the way, if there's a union or staff association, don't depend on it. At my institution, the former president of our group was a collaborator. He was more concerned with the instructors as a whole rather than individually. What's throwing a body to the wolves if it means that the rest of the herd is left in peace?



kraftiekortie
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21 Aug 2014, 8:41 pm

I understand that you're not working with the kids you want to work with--but you got your job back! At least you're not working under that "hard-ass."