View Full Version : Think good thoughs tomorrow

Zoe Girl
4-21-11, 9:26pm
Whew, I am working with my one school that is rough. Most of the staff is divided, the lead teacher and the rest of the staff at odds. It is not just that I relate well to the lead teacher but I really don't think this is a good one (or that she deserves it). So a few staff members asked if we could have a staff meeting and i said we could sure set it up, and immediatly smelled an ambush. We had to talk to one staff about some issues like her family hanging out at our school, her tone that is rough with the kids and families, etc. She was fine and passive in the meeting, signed the document about our talk and didn't offer much. Since then the rest of the staff is gossiping obviously about the lead teacher. It is childish. My lead teacher is standing up to some long standing things people are doing but we have talked and given them a chance to handle it respectfully and privately. My hope is that unlike the last person in my job I can help her learn how to handle these things instead of just getting her in trouble without offering any management training or support.

Anyway I have a plan and have some good advice to avoid an ambush. I am going to clearly state my expectations at the beginning of the meeting, individual issues will be handled privately and not at this meeting by first going to the person you have a concern with and then going up the chain of command if needed. The meeting will be about our program and our teamwork, any concerns the staff have that they can express without pointing fingers or attacking. We may even start with examples of 'positive I statements' if needed. I had to really assure my lead teacher I would not let them attack her to get her willing to do this, right now it is sooo uncomfortable at work that she wants to just deal with it directly.

So friday at 2 mountain time,

4-22-11, 9:35am
Set boundaries with an agenda for this meeting including some of what you have posted. If items go beyond the agenda, indicate clearly that another meeting may be required as any group can only tackle so many issues at once.
Mostly people want to be heard so get the emotionalism out of the way acknowledging the feelings and then work to solutions. Don't put too many expectations on this first meeting as you will be disappointed if you and the lead member hope for too much. Change is both an outward and an inward process.

Have I mentioned Stages of Change to you? Look it up for understanding where people are coming from. Realize that some people will be at the precontemplation stage and others will be at the planning stage. Tiny steps ahead is good.

4-22-11, 9:50am
Will be sending good wishes, ZoeGirl. People will likely be annoyed if they are hoping for a big showdown, dramatic airing of grievances, etc, but it is good practice to set the agenda and then be very clear when people try to circumvent it.

People certainly behave differently within a group than individually. I can appreciate your efforts to try to make a team out of this group. Perhaps they could generate some values of teamwork as a prelude. Of course people will differ on what they think a team IS, and how they can imagine themselves working as part of a team. If they can say why it is better to work as a team, then you can help them to use that the shift behaviour.

One principle of small group work is that everyone gets to (has to) speak. It is considered unethical to keep your silence if you are working in a group. Thus you might have to make time and space for the people who don't like to talk so they can say their piece. I have found that often the ones who are silent in the group have negative undermining things to say after the meeting. It helps to make a forum where people can say what is not working for them (without it being about a person or personality). Anyway, you can't assume that silence means agreement; in fact, they might be arguing every single point in their heads. If you feel strong, you can invite the negativity into the open (but NOT about a person or personality; perhaps about policy?).

Ah, well, I meant to just say I will be thinking of you and I ended up with this long thing....Best wishes today. Deep breathing and keep noticing that your feet are firmly planted on the ground. Those things always help.


4-22-11, 11:19am
I've worked in all-female, all-male (except me), and mixed work groups. I'm pained to report that the all-female groups were noticeably more rife with drama, agendas, cliques, and pettiness--just like the stereotypes. I wanted to think my experience was just an unfortunate coincidence, but reading your posts, I think maybe it wasn't. Your plan to establish firm ground rules up front sounds like a good one--keep a firm hand on the reins.

Zoe Girl
4-23-11, 10:20am
Well it was okay, not as bad as it could be but still not creating teamwork in a day. I pretty much knew that, I had hoped to get a firmer boundary but we had such a hard time slipping over that edge frankly. I know that people came prepared with what to say and then my expectations made that impossible so we struggled. I will try another one before the end of the year.

What I noticed was that my quiet lady really spoke up more and told the others that she thought they worked well together and we should worry about our own work and not others. Sorry gotta run to work but I will tell more later

4-23-11, 10:44am
Zoe, they are lucky to have a manager who will address these types of situations and not put her head in the sand.

Are you trained in Responsive Classroom? Your philosophy seems to be very in line with it. We use it at our school and one component is a class problem-solving meeting which is a structure to address issues proactively or reactively. We have used it as a staff, too. I know you already had your meeting but maybe it's something to look at for the future.

Zoe Girl
4-26-11, 10:04am
Thank you Fidgie, I will look into that. I am kinda burned out on this right now. The one 'problem child' is just frustrating me. In a private meeting she really had nothing to say and then wanted to talk about the private meeting in the public one. I had to say i keep those conversations private. She does a good job but she cannot seem to handle getting her family to leave her alone at work!!! They just have to let her work and not be there. I heard her stepdaughter was dropped off the other day, my lead did not know what to do and now I have to have another conversation and with a month left I REALLY don;'t want to.

Meanwhile we have lots of changes that are making staff mad. We have had 'lead teachers' in our programs with only experience and no actual education in anything. Now we are a year behind the licensing mandate that they be trained and educated. That means to keep their current job they need to be more educated. What is frustrating is that I am getting the anger as the front line person but the people who really should have told them about this a year ago are fired now for other reasons. No other school district or after school program has staff without education in the field honestly so we are behind.

Sorry for the griping today,