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Backroads

How to start trusting a colleague/coach again

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Yes, got new job, love new job, feel new job has lots of good opportunity for practice and growth. Quite happy still in this position.

However, today I left the school feeling less than Christ-like toward another faculty member. Add to this feeling ones of distrust (possibly paranoia now) and disgust.

This faculty member happens to be the instructional coach. Since I'm new to this school, I have a mentor who also mentors a couple of other new teachers. The instructional coach is more or less over our mentor and thus over us. Now, she presented us with her role: essentially being she's there to help us learn the curriculum, give feedback, answer questions, find things for us, etc. I liked her well enough three weeks ago when school began. Since then, she's done and said a few things I have found odd, but more or less chalked up to being her way. Then, one day, very randomly, another faculty member essentially gave us new teachers the cryptic warning to take everything she says with a large grain of salt. Okay, fine.

Today after school, I wandered toward another teacher's classroom for something, and realized Coach was in there chatting with Random Teacher. Coach was speaking very nastily about another new teacher, sharing what I am quite confident were confidential notes and information that, as a professional, I feel she should not have been sharing with another teacher who is not involved with the mentoring or coaching in any way.

Since I'm new, I'm really not sure how to bring it up with the principal or even if I should. I feel worried about what she could have been saying about me (there's the unproven paranaoia). Mostly, my feelings toward this coach have gone toward a very negative light. Frankly, I don't want her popping into my classroom or helping me with anything now. 

I don't know how to handle this. From a professional standpoint, as a new teacher in a new district, I can't help but feel I should suck it up for the sufficient minimum I have to interact with the woman. 

From a professional perspective, how ought I handle my interactions and dealings with her now? 

From a spiritual standpoint, how do I gain more positive feelings toward her?

ETA: To add, I don't believe I was seen. I waited outside the door when I saw they were talking, I left when I realized I probably shouldn't be listening to the seemingly confidential material myself.

Edited by Backroads

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Professionally speaking: this woman is WAY out of a line for a professional, let alone in the specific role of mentor.   Not only "should" you speak with her supervisor about this, it is your *responsibility* to do so.

You are also not being paranoid about your concerns about her talking behind your back: she probably is.  You have every rational right to feel the way you do and not want to be involved with here.

 

From a spiritual standpoint: there is nothing un-Christian about doing your duty and speaking up when a coworker is violating her job description (especially to such a toxic level).  There is nothing un-Christian about not being a doormat and refusing to work with this toxic person.   The mentor is a child of God (no one is denying that) but she's also clearly a toxic person you shouldn't work with.  

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Welcome to Real Life®, and sorry you have to put up with this.

I do not know the correct answer. If I were in your position, I would keep my nose clean and work on a going-forward basis. BUT -- I would not be an idiot. I would not put myself in a position to be criticized by this "mentor". I might, for example, video record everything in class, so that if/when this person's poison tongue lashed out at me, I could simply take the video into the principal's office and prove her a liar.

It's tempting to be a White Knight and fight the battles for the downtrodden, like the poor gossip victim. But then, you don't really know what the background was to their conversation. As a friend, I would encourage you to keep working and keep positive, but be on your guard, especially around this person.

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*STOP* don't do anything to "correct" her just yet. You need to make a name for yourself first. Do what she tells you and don't outshine her, YET. Gather all the Intel you can about your other colleagues without being a busy body. Listen to them and be willing to help. Say no when appropriate but also open to listening to them vent. DON'T give your personal opinion on ANYONE right now. Just be positive and cordial. Be assertive; not a pushover but not over bearing. Read up on your staff policies and keep them close to you so you stay out of trouble but also so you can hold others accountable IN THE FUTURE. 

You have to remember that office politics are very real and cutthroat. Loyalties are huge and can take precedence over "the right thing". Carry a little notebook with you and start documenting negative encounters (if any) also write when you address any issues directly with another co-worker. Once you feel like a person has crossed the line, even after speaking with them directly, then go to your higher-ups but remember you need to establish who you are and make sure their higher-ups aren't their out of office friends.

Remember the saying "it's just business" is a lie. Reporting someone is a full frontal attack and will activate others self defense and self preservation instincts. You will essentially be putting their livelihood in jeopardy, which means "war" and there will be fallout. Have you heard the term "get mad professionally" or "get even professionally"? It's when someone pretends to have no qualms or issues with a person but is secretly watching and waiting for someone to violate standards/company policy so they can then terminate them or put them in bad light. This makes it easier for the "victim" to be passed up for promotion, position and even honors. It is a lot like the note taking in the beginning I described but from an offense stance actively watching and hoping the watched party messes up. Whereas you will be taking notes for protection (cover your own booty) or if the issues are bad enough for reporting purposes.

Unless you own your business, and don't have to worry about getting fired, office politics, toxic leadership or even cliques, try to keep yourself out of the fray, until you know you have a support group and can win. Two sayings: "Keep what you got" and "Pick your battles (wisely)"

 

Edited by Overwatch

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Given the cryptic warning, I think you are not the first to observe this behavior, and so I don't know that reporting it would help.  Being the new person, I tend to agree with the view that you should keep your head down and watch your back.  Try not to worry about what she (likely is) saying about you, because again you are not the only one that is going to take her advice/comments with a grain of salt.  

From a spiritual standpoint....you asked how to gain more positive feelings about her....first of all being Christian doesn't mean getting walked on.  It is perfectly fine to be cautious and watchful in regards to this person.  At the same time, you don't want to allow your heart to be filled with anger, and resentment because we know where those feelings come from.  What I would do is pray to see this person the way God does, while still keeping yourself safe.   For example, perhaps this person is trying to get acceptance, and fill some deep inner pain and longing....that doesn't make the behavior right.  You still need to protect yourself, but at the same time, you can have a little compassion rather than disdain, for a lost soul trying in vain to ease some inner pain.   If that seems silly, just remember that the Savior sees all of our weaknesses and still loves us, so I don't think I'm so far off. ;)  

ETA..just saw this video that helps illustrate my point...
 

 

Edited by LiterateParakeet

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I would suggest a little patience. Try to play the detached observer for awhile. After all, you don't know all the details and dynamics of this new environment. And it sometimes happens that the first impression is the wrong one.

If, however, after a time of passive observation, you conclude that it's wise to talk, then by all means do so. But I would first wait some time and just try to read people, without getting caught in any office politics or taking any sides.

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Sorry you're dealing with this. What came to my mind:

1 - "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer"

2 - Come up with responses you can have on the ready for when you might be told info and/or something about someone else. Comments that tactfully defray the situation but put a stop to it. 

Hoping for the best for you!

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