Teacher can’t resolve ongoing conflict with colleague

Career, Career Confidential|

Q: I’ve been clashing with a coworker, Natalie, over the most ridiculous things. We’re both teachers, so it’s not a supervisory relationship, and I don’t know what her problem is with me. From the get-go, she’s been cold. I’ve always been friendly anyway. But then she started picking fights. She confronts me about things like [...]

Lack of organization puts teacher’s job on the line

Career, Career Confidential|

Q:  I teach middle school science. Last year, I got written up for not meeting standards. I lost students’ papers and quizzes and didn’t return them within the required time frame. Grading is a problem for me, but sometimes it's not my fault. Kids will either pretend they handed in work or will forget to [...]

New principal is already butting heads with staff

Career, Career Confidential|

Q:  I’m a high school principal in Michigan. I was assigned to a new school in my district because I have a track record of turning around struggling schools. Not something I wanted, but it is what it is. I’m not the easiest person, but I get the job done. It was hard to leave [...]

Teacher hates a student, but sticking it out could be life-changing for both

Career, Career Confidential|

Q: I really can't stand a specific student. I just found out he will be in my class again this year. Teaching him once was more than enough! I know it's not politically correct to hate a student, but this kid is the worst. I've tried every classroom management strategy, but he just pushes all [...]

Teacher resents being told to assign antiquated work

Career, Career Confidential|

Q: I’ve been teaching math for four years but will be new at my school this year. I’m also about 35 years younger than the head of my department. He assigned his incoming students pages and pages of summer math problems. They’re pretty brainless, rote stuff. It’s the kind of antiquated homework I did as [...]

Teacher wonders if she should give in to double standard

Career, Career Confidential|

Q: I’m a female high school history teacher, and I’ll freely admit that I’m demanding. I don’t let my students dial it in, whether it’s a class discussion, an essay prompt, or an exam question. I insist on rigorous analysis and critical thinking. I don’t inflate grades, and I don’t give extensions without good reason. I [...]

Part-time teacher feels like a second-class citizen

Career, Career Confidential|

Q: I work part time as a teacher. I made this decision after working full time for years. The tipping point was having my second baby. My husband travels frequently because he consults for an out-of-state client so I wanted more flexibility. My principal totally gets it, and she’s been super supportive, down to freeing up [...]

Is it necessary to push college readiness in middle school?

Career, Career Confidential|

Q: I’m a counselor at a public middle school in a high-achieving area. Our students are so stressed that we expend a disproportionate amount of energy counteracting the academic pressure. We have a crazy number of kids with suicidal ideation, cutting, and other self-harming behaviors. My large school system now wants us to adopt an [...]

Don’t make me talk to adults! Public speaking isn’t my thing

Career, Career Confidential|

Q: I teach in a school in an area where lots of districts have open enrollment choice plans so parents can select any school they want for their children. Our school is really good, but we’re having trouble ramping up our enrollment, and my principal is understandably anxious. She wants teachers to “get out there” [...]

Is gender bias to blame for teacher’s firing?

Career, Career Confidential|

Q: I just had a startling conversation with a colleague, Naomi, who’s a high school department chair. She told me she was feeling guilty because she had maneuvered to cut a teacher’s job. This teacher, Sandra, recently had her fourth baby. “I feel bad,” Naomi said, “but honestly, I think she should be home with her [...]

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