Losing your job

Career|

Q: It’s “transfer season” for my large public school system. This is the time when schools get staffing allocations and teachers find out whether their jobs are safe. Well, my .6 literacy position has been cut. I still have a guaranteed job in the county, but I have to leave a school where I’ve happily [...]

Discussing controversial topics with middle schoolers

Career|

Q: As a middle school social studies teacher, I often talk about current events. Needless to say, that’s become much more complicated lately. I leave my personal views out of the discussions, but I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. Some of my students have very real fears about issues such as health care [...]

When the reading specialist is a mean gossip

Career|

Q: I’m an elementary school teacher, and I often rely on our reading specialist to come into the classroom to observe students. Last year, we hired a new one, Lara. Lara is competent, but she’s toxic. She’s unusually close with the principal, and she often reports information to him after visiting teachers’ classrooms. She tells [...]

When a counselor hears consistent complaints about one teacher 

Career|

Q: I’m a school counselor, and I’ve had constant run-ins with one teacher, Jane, for the past four years. She has zero ability to relate to kids who aren’t straight-A students, and she holds all but the highest performers to unrealistic standards. She seems practically gleeful when kids do poorly in her class. Every year, kids [...]

Should a principal treat all staff members the same?

Career|

Q: I’m a high school principal and consider myself to be fair and reasonable. I have an employee — let’s call her Christine — who is extremely unreliable. She doesn’t get grades in on time, doesn’t always show up when it’s her turn to chaperone evening events, and generally is nowhere to be found when [...]

Am I crazy to consider leaving teaching?

Career|

Q: I’ve been an 8th-grade English teacher for 10 years in the same school. Some days I love what I do, but most days it feels stale, and I wish I were doing something different. While I’m sure that’s true for many people, I spend a ton of time mentally plotting my exit. In my [...]

A teacher’s promotion to leadership doesn’t work out

Career|

Q: As principal, I try to promote staff when they have done a good job and show potential. I recently hired one of my teachers, Kelly, to be a department chair. It was well-deserved. She’s an enthusiastic and hard-working teacher, the kind of person who gets the best work out of her students and consistently [...]

What to do when a meeting goes wrong

Career|

Q: I’m the head of the special education department at my school, and I recently ran a screening meeting for a 6th-grade student. Her parents went through a nasty divorce, but both agreed to attend the meeting together. At the meeting, her father got really belligerent, blaming her mother for all of their daughter’s problems [...]

How to react when a teacher is too loose with students online

Career|

Q: I’m a high school teacher and baseball coach in my early 30s. My students relate to me, but I work hard to make sure they view me as their teacher, not their friend. I use social media, but I don’t interact with kids online. The only exception is Facebook, which I use to organize [...]

How to give credit when credit is due

Career|

Q: I’m the principal of a middle school and am struggling to figure out ways to honor teachers who are doing good work. In the past, I have called attention to their accomplishments at staff meetings. Recently, when I privately complimented a teacher for going above and beyond, she nervously asked me not to mention [...]

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