This week, Ask WeAreTeachers takes on if a teacher can really teach at two different schools, trash-talking colleagues, and more.
I’m thinking about accepting two teaching positions at different schools since one is virtual and the other is in person.
I accepted a virtual teaching position for next year at what I’ll call School A. But my passion is teaching in person. I interviewed for an in-person position in my dream grade at School B. I think the probability is high that they’ll offer me the position. If this happens, I was thinking instead of having to choose, I could tell the first principal at School A that I’m moving and see if she’ll allow me to work from home since it’s virtual (we’re supposed to report to our classrooms). If not, then at least I had a legitimate excuse that got me out of it without burning a bridge. But if she goes for it, I was thinking I could teach the students from School A virtually while also teaching my class in person at School B. I would be at School B teaching in person while teaching online and giving the students tasks to complete and putting them in breakout rooms every now and then. That’s what most of us did this past year, isn’t it? —Best of Both Worlds
No. It’s not the same. At all. What we did this past year was crisis teaching, and it was not ideal at all. I strongly advise you against this course of action. First, what you’re talking about likely puts you in breach of contract. Even if it doesn’t, it’s highly unethical. Because making this happen involves you lying. And it’s just not fair to the kids in your care. They deserve your full attention.
This also just isn’t good for you. I think you’re underestimating the amount of work of a remote teacher. I asked teacher Richard Kennedy, who has experience teaching both virtually and in person, and he noted, “Even if it’s not illegal, you’d definitely be spreading yourself thin.” You will burn yourself out doing double duty—if you don’t get fired before that.
It sucks that a teacher would even have to consider this in the first place, but too many teachers feel the need to have side hustles and second jobs just to make ends meet. We need a system that better supports having ONE job with normal hours and a professional salary.
My admin accused me of sitting on my butt during recess duty.
Every other day, I have recess duty during the last half hour of the day. The two fourth grade classes have to stay in separate areas due to COVID restrictions. In order to readily get to students misbehaving or hurt, I position myself evenly between the playground and the field and regularly walk and scan both areas. Yesterday, unbeknownst to me, while I was dealing with a student who was yanking classmates by the backs of their jackets, a few students in the field were tackling students and playing soccer aggressively. No kids reported it to me, but some parents waiting for dismissal saw it and complained to the nearest adult—the principal. He sent an all-school email about being more proactive about supervision. He didn’t name names, but it’s pretty clear he thinks I dropped the ball. Is it just me, or is that out of line? —On Duty
You didn’t do anything wrong. It was unfortunate, but you can’t be two places at once. This might be a good time to bring up the need for better supervision/more coverage.
I talked to elementary principal Kela Small, who said, “He maintained confidentiality, which is a good sign that he doesn’t blame you for the kids’ roughhousing; he’s just taking advantage of the timely reminder. My concern is that it sounds like you’re the only person out there with two classes. If we wouldn’t put one teacher alone in a classroom with two classes, we shouldn’t put one teacher on duty at recess with two classes.
“If I were you, I would go to the principal and let him know that you will make sure your eyes are always scanning, even if you’re dealing with a side issue. I’d then propose some assistance during those 30 minutes. Approaching your principal this way shows a sense of responsibility, accountability, and investment in the safety of the kids.”
I’m being replaced as the theater director, and it’s the best part of my job
I teach HS English, and I am the theater director at our school. I’ve been putting on productions for a decade. Last year, we were unable to put on a production. This year, we had no fall production because of COVID. This spring, the principal approached me, saying the kids were dying to put on a show. I put in a lot of work (directing, costuming, building set pieces), and the show went well, all things considered. But at my evaluation, he told me he’s bringing in someone to take over theater full-time. He “has someone ready to step in” but wants me to “help out.” He’s only been at the school for the past two years, so I feel like he didn’t get the chance to really see what I can do! He did ask how I felt about it, but I got the distinct impression that it didn’t matter what I said, I won’t be offered the theater contract. I sat in my car crying for 10 minutes before I could get it together enough to drive home. I love my job, but I’m tired and angry, and I don’t know how to move past it right now. —Capital D Drama
I can see why that would be a tough pill to swallow. But do you have to? I think it’s worth speaking up and directly asking if you can be considered for the full-time theater position, especially given the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic. Try saying, “Given the challenges I’ve faced this year, I don’t feel like I’ve been given a chance to prove myself. As the experienced in-house director, I’d like to be considered for the job.” The worst he can say is no.
If he already has someone in mind for the job, then you may be out of luck. We don’t have much recourse with these things, as principals are well within their rights to hire and move staff around. This could be a good time to reflect and think about where you really want to be. If your heart is in directing theater, maybe you should consider moving schools or working in community theater. Or maybe now is the perfect opportunity to explore a related area, like English literature.
Change is hard. Give yourself some time to grieve, and then start taking some steps in the direction you feel called.
A colleague is trash-talking me in the staff room, and I feel miserable.
I am a middle school teacher, and one of my colleagues came to tell me that another colleague said that I did not know how to handle one of my classes. So, I decided to confront her the next day and invited her to talk about it. In the beginning, she denied everything. When I gave her the name of the teacher she was talking to, she ended up admitting it. She also said that she couldn’t manage one of her classes and that my lessons were great, and kids enjoyed what we were doing in class. I feel a little better, but I can’t get over feeling like my colleagues are talking about me behind my back. What’s the best attitude to take here? —Belittled and Beleaguered
I know it’s no fun to hear that someone was talking badly about you, but honestly? There’s not much you can do about it. People are going to talk. I think you’re better off ignoring that kind of stuff and minding your own business. Focus on what you can control i.e., what you’re doing in your classroom with your students.
I talked to middle school science teacher Caleb Willow, who recommended a “Who cares?” attitude. He told me, “Teachers love water cooler conversations. Just keep doing the job you know how to do.” In the immortal words of RuPaul, “Unless they gonna pay your bills, pay them no mind.”
As for that teacher who told you about the trash talk? They’re not your friend.
Do you have a burning question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My school celebrated all the other teachers and left us out.
I’m part of a small group of teachers from my high school that is teaching exclusively remotely for the entire year. For Teacher Appreciation, the admins left goodie bags in mailboxes yesterday, have an ice cream truck coming in today, and tomorrow there’s a celebration breakfast. Kind of hard to take part when you’re not in the building. They said that remote teachers can be part of a raffle, but they didn’t explain how to enter the raffle. Just as well, the raffle prize yesterday was free lunch for a week. I didn’t go into teaching for the recognition, but being left out hurts all the same. Should I say something, or will I sound whiny?