I Don't Have to Prove Myself

| Tuesday, August 10
 ^not me^

So, I've officially started my new job as 5th grade teacher as of today. The teachers are back on contract, but we don't have students until NEXT Tuesday. Which is also my 29th birthday. Anyway, back to my point I was trying to get to before I start rambling off into space.

I've now met all of my colleagues except one who's not been at the school yet due to family issues, and from what I've heard keeps to herself all the time anyway. There are a total of 8 5th grade teachers in our school. 5 of them have made me feel super welcome and comfortable ever since I thought I might be getting the job. I met 4 of them at professional development curriculum workshops the week between getting the call from the principal and the "official" call from Human Resources. They were super nice, come to check on me, joke with me like I'm already a part of the crew, and one has even come to *me* for teaching advice.

But if you do the math, here, that means there's one more teacher who doesn't fit into either of the above categories. And of course, she's the one who I share an office with and have to team-teach with. Right now, she's making me feel like I've got to prove myself to her for me to be accepted. I feel like she resents me because I took the position her best friend vacated. It really was bothering me, when I first started dwelling on it, because I'm honestly not used to people automatically not liking me without ever getting to know me.

Then I started thinking (along with encouragement from the Hub) that I don't need her approval for multiple reasons. First, I know I'm a good teacher. Parents are whining that I'm not at the middle school anymore because I taught their older kids and now they have more that are going into 6th grade, and they were hoping I'd be one of their teachers. Apparently, now there are parents making requests for me at the elementary school already. So, see, I know I must be good. The kids and parents like me for the most part. (And I'm not always the nicest teacher. I have high expectations of work quality and behavior.) Second, it dawned on me that this teacher that's making me feel this way is younger and has less experience than me! I definitely don't need to prove myself to a teacher who's been doing this less time than I have, no matter how great she thinks she is.

Plus she talks down to me and words things in a way that makes it sound like she's doing me a favor, like by "saving" me from having to plan both science and social studies, when she's just doing that because she doesn't want to teach social studies (because she's always taught science - always being the previous two school years). Or that she graciously "took over" the low-level math class that the teacher I replaced had taught the year before so I wouldn't have to "get dumped on". Seriously? Do yourself a favor, and stop being a martyr. You should be doing this to help the kids in the best way possible, not to make yourself look like a saint!

So, I've decided I'm going to tolerate her "living" next door to me until Thanksgiving, then pray when she goes out on maternity leave, that she does decide to stay out for the rest of the year. I just don't want to deal with such condescension on a daily basis.  It's not worth it. I'm better than that. I'm just going to go out there, do my thing even if it is different than the way she's "always" done it, and do what's best for my students. And continue to shake off the feeling that I need to demonstrate that I am, indeed, a good teacher and a fun human being. (Plus I like talking with the teacher across the hall better, anyway. She'll be my friend and let me vent. I can tell already!)

6 more days to get my room (and lessons) ready before the students walk through my door for the first time!!


catherine said...

Sounds like you've got a good system :)

From what I can tell, you seem like a great teacher and very capable. So you have nothing to worry about (and kids' parents are requesting you! that's gotta make you feel really good!). So I have faith in you :D

Good luck starting back! We'll have to swap stories once the year gets going :)

Eleni said...

That's too bad that you have to work with a teacher as disagreeable as that. I can understand her not liking the fact that she doesn't have her best friend there anymore, but it's not like that's your fault (I'm assuming you didn't sabotage the friend's career and get her fired so you could take her place). Does she get along with the other 5th grade teachers? Anyway, it's nice that the rest of them seem really nice, so at least you won't have mean colleagues teaming up on you. Hopefully once classes start going she'll see how good you are and stop being a jerk.

michelle said...

wow what a pita. i hope she comes around; it's frustrating having to share a space with someone who's so against you. my friend had an officemate who sounds kinda like this. he generally kept to himself until they went up for the same position. she got it, and he was extremely bitter. he kept telling people that he didn't really want it in the first place because it wasn't good enough. luckily, the new position came with an awesome new office so she can stop trying to kill him with kindness :)

Herding Cats said...

Keep your chin up. That other teacher sounds like she's very insecure. I'm sure you are a fabulous teacher, and there is no "one way" to teach - so just do you!

Amy said...

It's hard to have co-workers like that and especially when they are in such close proximity. I hope she gets over it... but if not, it sounds like you have good plan for dealing with her.

Ruth said...

Nope, you don't have to prove yourself! I sometimes get into similar problems with the guy in the cube next to mine.

Hope she either gets used to you or decides to take the rest of the year off. Sounds like the rest of the bunch are a good crop of coworkers, though! Good luck this year. :)

Holley said...

Sounds like she's a bit self conscious. Anyone who starts off like that is probably scared of change. If she's newish maybe she was just really attached to before-you teacher... and maybe she's afraid of how you'll turn out.
I hope it works out for the best and that you both end up liking each other!
How exciting for a new (school) year!

TabithaVenasse said...

Sorry to hear that your office mate is such a prat.

Once you get your students though, I bet you'll barely even think about the things she's doing, because you'll be loving your class so much. :)

Ambiguous Geek said...

One of my least favourite feelings in the world is feeling like you have to prove yourself to a co-worker or boss. It makes it feel like everything you do is an additional challenge, and that there's no room for any sort of error, and it's stressful.

But you're right, you don't have to prove anything. Besides having the experience under your belt, you also have the age and maturity thing going for you, which kinda trumps her childish behaviour immediately.

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