Working Moms

How nice do I have to be?

If you make it to the end of this, please let me know how you would handle this situation. (And yes, I know it may not be the best idea to write all of this in a post, but at this point I'm not sure I care...)

 I'm a teacher, and have been working at the same school for three years now. All during the past three years, my direct supervisor has been really nice and encouraging. He has written me glowing evaluations, told me what an excellent job I'm doing, and has never had any major criticisms of me (in all honesty, he should have had SOME criticisms...but no, he didn't).  

A few months ago, my supervisor pulled me aside and told me that he would not be recommending me for tenure this year. Which means that I'll be out of a job once this year's contract runs out. He basically told me that I was an "A" quality teacher, but not an "A+" quality teacher, and right now the standards are really high and he's being discouraged from granting anyone tenure, blah, blah, blah... He actually cried when he told me. I know he feels bad, and I know he's got the right to make the decision he made (legally, he can let me go for no reason at all) but I still think the whole thing is lame. I think it was cruel, misleading, and a little short-sided to gush over the great job I was doing for three years, only to tell me at the last minute that I'd have to go because some magical spark was missing.

In the few months since, I've been coming to work everyday, doing my best for the kids and trying to remain professional. My supervisor continues to be very nice and try to make small talk with me, but honestly, I don't feel like talking to him these days. I'm always polite with him, but short. And I avoid him whenever possible. TO make matters worse, about a week ago my supervisor walked into my classroom at the end of the day and announced that he was having a little going away party for me, with a "Good Luck" cake and everything. Only a few of my coworkers actually showed up (if I were them, I wouldn't have showed up either). The whole thing was humiliating. I mean, who wants to celebrate NOT getting tenure? Who wants a cake to remind them they won't have a job for next year? I know my supervisor meant well, but I thought the whole thing was in poor taste and frankly, downright bizarre. And I don't want a cake from him right now. He's deciding to let me go; he doesn't get to still cheer me on and be my friend. 

Today is the last day of work, and I'm not sure how I should behave. It's a short day; I just have to stop in for a few hours, pick up my last check, and have my supervisor sign me out officially. My question is, if it were you, how would you act towards this guy? I have no desire to be out-and-out rude (that wouldn't help anything anyway, and could only hurt), but I'd prefer not to act like everything between us is perfect, either. I know he's probably going to try to say some things, wish me luck, thank me for the great job I did, and a lot of other meaningless things. I'd really like to cut all of that as short as possible, but again, I don't want to burn this bridge completely. How would you handle it? 

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Re: How nice do I have to be?

  • Be polite and professional.  I don't know if it would be too much, but maybe you could ask him to write a recommendation for you.  If he really does think you are a high quality teacher and did not recommend tenure because of political reasons, I would think he'd be happy to write a glowing recommendation.  And hopefully that will help you obtain a new position elsewhere. 

    I am sorry that you are going through this.  Good luck today!

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  • I think you be polite and professional and you shouldn't avoid him on your last day. He's trying to end things well - today is your last impression. What do you want him to remember when he gets a call as your reference?
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  • Wow, that sucks. Did you explain how you feel you were never given the chance to improve to higher standards since you were under the impression you were already meeting them based on his reports? I imagine he was happy with you and didn't realize over the last 3 years that he would be put in this position where he wouldn't be able to offer you tenure, at least that's how it sounds from what you wrote. Did you have a mentor there? I guess I would provide him with constructive feedback about how to improve the process, explain that you are disappointed in this outcome but 'understand', and how you hope you can again one day work together in the future (even if it's not true). My guess is that you need him as a reference, and the more graceful you are in how you handle this, the better off and easier it will be for you as you look for a new position. That cake thing is horrible, by the way... Yeah, just suck it up and be 'perfect'. Then vent later. It's in your own best interest.
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  • you have to be nice.  You may want to ask him if he'd be able to write you a recommendation or if he would mind if you used him as a reference.  A good recommendation from a reliable source is hard to come by, you want to make sure to keep it.
  • image mommymegan831:
    you have to be nice.  You may want to ask him if he'd be able to write you a recommendation or if he would mind if you used him as a reference.  A good recommendation from a reliable source is hard to come by, you want to make sure to keep it.

    I agree w/this.  It is a short day, you have held your tongue so far, why blow it on the last day?  It is a bad situation, and I can understand why you are upset I would just hold your tongue though.  Nothing good can come from making a stink about it now.

     

  • image st.augbride:
    Yeah, just suck it up and be 'perfect'. Then vent later. It's in your own best interest.

    I'm sure it's not what you feel like doing, but I completely agree with this PP.  It's only going to hurt you in the long term if you burn any bridges on your last day.  Keep in mind that things could change in the future and at a minimum you want to make sure to get a great reference from this guy.

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  • All of you are right, of course. Much as I don't feel like being gracious, I know that's what I need to do.

    FWIW, this supervisor has already written me a very good rec letter. He did it very quickly, in fact--I had it within about a week of finding out I wouldn't be asked back. But obviously, this doesn't mean that I can burn my bridge with him...I guess when I'm trying to be nice today, I'll focus on things I genuinely think he did well, like writing me such a good letter so promptly...

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  • I agree with PP...don't burn that bridge, you may need him for a recommendation, or you may find yourself getting another job with him as the boss int he future be it at the same school, or if he moves to one you're at.  Politeness and professionalism is always the best answer compared to bitterness.
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  • shannmshannm
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    Act professional. You can be disappointed that he didn't mentor/manage you well but you are correct, you shouldn't burn that bridge.
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  • I would be snarky but not flat out rude.  I tend to cloak some truth in humor by saying something like, "well, off to find the job that won't let me go for having perfect reviews and an A grade".
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  • image hopefulmom81:
    I would be snarky but not flat out rude.  I tend to cloak some truth in humor by saying something like, "well, off to find the job that won't let me go for having perfect reviews and an A grade".

    That just makes you sound like a teenager talking back to mommy.  

    She need to be professional and upbeat.  Many teachers are not asked back after three years.  There is probably a lot of politics involved and maybe her supervisors hands were tied. 

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  • image outnumbered:

    image hopefulmom81:
    I would be snarky but not flat out rude.  I tend to cloak some truth in humor by saying something like, "well, off to find the job that won't let me go for having perfect reviews and an A grade".

    That just makes you sound like a teenager talking back to mommy.  

    She need to be professional and upbeat.  Many teachers are not asked back after three years.  There is probably a lot of politics involved and maybe her supervisors hands were tied. 

    Yeah, I would not be snarky.  You never know if you will have an opportunity in the future to work for this school again.  Or maybe your supervisor will be transferred to another school where you will be.  Until you have tenure, your job is not guaranteed, so while it sucks you aren't being asked back, it doesn't sound like it was because of you - could be budget related, could be not enough teachers are retiring, so there aren't enough spaces for new teachers, could be class sizes are decreasing, so not so many teachers are needed, etc.  OP, you're a professional, and have good observations to back up your teaching skills.   Don't blow it by letting your emotions get in the way at the last minute.

  • I just went through the same thing, except that my maternity leave sub got my position because he wanted to go in a "different direction" even though I had improved in spite of difficult circumstances, so it totally sucks and I feel for you. I would just keep it professional and short. Have you asked him for a letter of recommendation? I would also keep your evaluations for future applications as well. Is there another supervisor who has observed you that could also write you a recommendation? Since I worked in a K-12 environment I was able to ask the high school principal to write me the recommendation since I was not comfortable talking to the elementary principal/ superintendent who let me go. Good luck and I'm so sorry.
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  • Thanks for the advice, everyone! I took what you all said to heart and was positive, gracious, and professional. And now it's all finally over.  I ended up only needing to be at school for less than an hour, so it wasn't too bad; I also brought LO with me, and having him there sort of decreased the tension a bit.

    Anyway, thanks again for the much needed perspective! 

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  • image Greco1014:

    Thanks for the advice, everyone! I took what you all said to heart and was positive, gracious, and professional. And now it's all finally over.  I ended up only needing to be at school for less than an hour, so it wasn't too bad; I also brought LO with me, and having him there sort of decreased the tension a bit.

    Anyway, thanks again for the much needed perspective! 

     I am SO happy to hear this. :)   Handling frustrating and disappointing circumstances with grace is what sets some people above their peers.  Everyone can be professional and friendly when the world is treating them fairly.  But showing that you can pleasently manage the good with the bad makes people want to take that extra step to help and support you.

  • image outnumbered:

    image hopefulmom81:
    I would be snarky but not flat out rude.  I tend to cloak some truth in humor by saying something like, "well, off to find the job that won't let me go for having perfect reviews and an A grade".

    That just makes you sound like a teenager talking back to mommy.  

    She need to be professional and upbeat.  Many teachers are not asked back after three years.  There is probably a lot of politics involved and maybe her supervisors hands were tied. 

    Who cares what it makes you sound like?  It's funny.  

    Professional and upbeat is going to send the message that the way she was treated was okay and it isn't.  

    I say do something to stand up for yourself.  

    I also wonder if you would ever tell a man to be "upbeat" ? 

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  • image hopefulmom81:
    image outnumbered:

    image hopefulmom81:
    I would be snarky but not flat out rude.  I tend to cloak some truth in humor by saying something like, "well, off to find the job that won't let me go for having perfect reviews and an A grade".

    That just makes you sound like a teenager talking back to mommy.  

    She need to be professional and upbeat.  Many teachers are not asked back after three years.  There is probably a lot of politics involved and maybe her supervisors hands were tied. 

    Who cares what it makes you sound like?  It's funny.  

    Professional and upbeat is going to send the message that the way she was treated was okay and it isn't.  

    I say do something to stand up for yourself.  

    I also wonder if you would ever tell a man to be "upbeat" ? 

    It is not funny.  It is immature.  She needs to be professional and positive because she is looking for a new teaching position. That new position could be in the same school district.   It is better to leave people with a positive impression.  I would give a man the same advice. 

    Smiley: April '05 Rocky: May '06 Tex: July '09
  • Oh my heart is going out to you! Tenure climate right now is so tense. I believe you have every right to be ticked (I was mad for you for your ding dong supervisor throwing you a 'good luck' party...grrrr) 

    I would be respectful and definitely not burn a bridge. You might need a glowing recommendation for a new job.

     Good luck and best thoughts! 

  • image outnumbered:
    image hopefulmom81:
    image outnumbered:

    image hopefulmom81:
    I would be snarky but not flat out rude.  I tend to cloak some truth in humor by saying something like, "well, off to find the job that won't let me go for having perfect reviews and an A grade".

    That just makes you sound like a teenager talking back to mommy.  

    She need to be professional and upbeat.  Many teachers are not asked back after three years.  There is probably a lot of politics involved and maybe her supervisors hands were tied. 

    Who cares what it makes you sound like?  It's funny.  

    Professional and upbeat is going to send the message that the way she was treated was okay and it isn't.  

    I say do something to stand up for yourself.  

    I also wonder if you would ever tell a man to be "upbeat" ? 

    It is not funny.  It is immature.  She needs to be professional and positive because she is looking for a new teaching position. That new position could be in the same school district.   It is better to leave people with a positive impression.  I would give a man the same advice. 

    It IS funny, you just are too uptight. 

    OP's question is how would YOU handle it, so I answered.  That is how I would handle it. I hardly think being snarky to someone who knows they were wrong in the way they mismanaged the situation is going to blacklist her from another teaching position.  I am quite successful in my career and I definitely have an edge to the way I handle crappy bosses and situations and people find my immature snarkiness quite amusing.  I don't take crap from poor managers.  I don't allow people to get away with walking all over me professionally.  That manager will continue to mismanage because no one is calling him on handling the situation poorly.  

    By not calling him on what he did, in jest or in a real conversation, OP is allowing the next teacher to get surprised.  There should have been a string of feedback that led up to this OR the A vs. A+ conversation should not have happened.  Running around with a smile on your face when you get crapped on might be fine for you, but it isn't for me. 

    You obviously would not tell a man to be "upbeat" because you just changed your wording in your response to leaving a positive impression. 

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