Tales from new teachers

22nd May 2015 at 01:00
when the enemy strikes

The problem

As a newly qualified teacher, I quickly learned that you can't get along with everyone in the staffroom. My naive vision of us all happily coexisting was shattered five minutes into my first day when two teachers started yelling at each other in the car park because one had stolen the other's parking space.

It was then that I decided to keep my head down and try to avoid arguments. I was nice to everyone and kept my mouth shut unless someone asked for my opinion. This approach seemed to work until Christmas. And then, somehow, I acquired an enemy.

I didn't know she was an enemy at first; in fact, I didn't really know her at all. But soon people were saying things like "What did you do to upset Emily?" and I began noticing the death stares across the assembly hall.

I decided to ignore the issue, but then she became outright hostile, tutting at me, giggling with her friends and pointing. I didn't know how to handle it.

The options

My first call was to my mum. She said what all mothers would say: punch her in the face (this is what all mums would say, right?).

Clearly, this was not a viable option, so I decided to talk to my mentor. Suddenly everything became clear. It turned out that the colleague in question was friends with someone who had been up against me for my job. When I was hired, this teacher and her friend had complained, but to no avail.

My mentor told me not to worry and said he would inform the senior leadership team about what was going on and ensure the problem was addressed.

The result

I half expected to be called into a meeting where we would be made to hug each other and pledge to be lifelong friends. Thankfully, this did not happen.

Instead, a senior leader took me aside a week later and told me that the issue had been resolved. He added that if I experienced any further hassle or negativity from "the enemy", I should report it to him immediately.

Straight after this I stepped into the staffroom and there was Emily, sipping a coffee. I waited for the stares or the giggles but instead she simply ignored me.

Indeed, since that day I have not heard a peep from her. Whatever was said clearly worked, so I was glad I had left it to my mentor to sort out rather than taking my mum's advice. I have a feeling that could have been quite counterproductive.

The writer is a newly qualified teacher in the South West of England

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