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To ask for your help in dealing with this awful work colleague?

(48 Posts)
MintyChapstick Tue 01-Mar-16 15:47:16

Sorry this might be a long one.

I do supply work. I'm a Teaching Assistant, and at present Im at a lovely local primary school. I've been there since Christmas covering someone who's off long term sick. All was well and I was loving it until a few weeks ago when the other teaching assistant in the class went off sick as well, so another girl from my agency came to cover her. Initially I was quite pleased as I enjoy meeting other people from my agency, it's a common ground we have etc but she's worked at the school before and has done several ongoing long term placements theew and seemed to think from the off she was the authority over me because of it. Nothing unpleasant I could put my finger on, but lots of ever so patronising comments, talking down to me and suble undermining of me.

This was always presented to me as helpful advice. so even though it grated on me I ignored it and carried on as I had been, after all the class teacher is pleased with me apparently. I even carried on being nice to her in a "kill her with kindness" kind of way. She might be a TA but she's appalling at spelling, and has asked me to help her with words several times. I always oblige.

Well anyway since half term she seems to have upped her game. The comments are becoming more snide, for example today a little boy took his boots off and I said something about putting his new boots back on. She then said "they're not new, he's had them for ages now" (he's had them about a month maybe, so why does it fucking matter?)constant questioning of what I'm doing and why im doing it, I'll tell the kids to do one thing she immediately tells them to do another. Today she vaguely had a go at me for giving the wrong child a drink of water. Its all subtle never said in front of anyone else either, I've no idea what I've done to offend her?

Now, I want to be the better person and ignore, but quite honestly im on the verge of blowing and I know that when I do what I will say won't be very nice. The other part of me is thinking, fuck this im going to phone the agency tomorrow and say I don't want to this anymore send me elsewhere , but I really don't see why I should in all honesty? Class teacher is lovely and so are the kids, but I can't be arsed. I've not been well lately, some of you will know what I'm referring to and really am not in the best frame of mind. I think one more comment tommorrow and I will explode, and then no doubt get asked to leave, be reported to the agency etc.

So what the hell do I do? I have blown in this situation before and it came back on me and I ended up having to leave my job over it (long story).


PortobelloRoad Tue 01-Mar-16 15:51:48

Honestly if you really feel like you're at the end of your rope with this woman I think you should call your agency. It's not fair, and no, why should you but it's not worth your reputation and career to blow up at her if she is really doing you in.

Do you know when the TA who is off sick is coming back?

rosebiggs Tue 01-Mar-16 15:55:48

She sounds like a nightmare. Ignore her if you can. Other people are bound to notice her silly comments as well.

Iamblossom Tue 01-Mar-16 15:57:34


Seems to me you have three choices:

1. You suck it up, hope she sees she is not having any effect on you (even though she is) and that she will get bored or someone else will pull her up on her silly annoying unnecessary comments. Is she there for a finite period of time or forever?

2. You speak to her about it. In a non-aggressive or threatening way, over a cuppa perhaps. Maybe couch it in a "is everything ok? you seem a bit nervous around me/threatened by me/needing to prove something around me?" Maybe bombard her compliments but at the same time slip in a few "there is really no need to feel anxious around me, we are all in it together, please don't feel I am trying to do your job, you are clearly very good at yours, I need to be able to get on with mine, what do you think?" etc

3. You speak to someone else about it. Explain that you tried to ignore it and you mean no harm or trouble, but she seems threatened and it is manifesting itself in the way you have described in your post. Explain you need to log it objectively with someone in authority in case it escalates and it starts to affect your ability to do your there anything they suggest you do etc

MintyChapstick Tue 01-Mar-16 15:59:20

The one I'm covering is back at after the Easter hols. The one that bitch is covering if off for another sick weeks at least. I only have four more weeks left, and I really don't want to walk away as I'd done a week at the school before and they personally asked me back.

I suspect if I approached the class teacher about it I wouldn't be believed as this woman has been quite clever at ingratiating herself with the other members of staff. But I suspect she's done this kind of thing before and has probably got away with it, and I really fucking hate bullies and think they should all be brought down.

Fugghetaboutit Tue 01-Mar-16 16:01:55

She knows you're good at your job and probably feels threatened as she doesn't sound as good.

I would take her aside for a quiet word about her contradicting you on everything and that it is the teachers job.

TheSnowFairy Tue 01-Mar-16 16:02:17

Firstly, don't blow up at her, you will lose any support from staff.

Her undermining you is a control issue.

If she says something to contradict you in front of the children, act like she hasn't spoken.

Next time she asks re spelling tell her you're busy and point her in the direction of a dictionary.

Good luck. Grit your teeth and carry on.

ohlittlepea Tue 01-Mar-16 16:04:25

I had this, one time I just got to the end of my tether and said 'is there a problem here that I don't know about?' turns out the person involved was just naturally a bit bolshy.

MintyChapstick Tue 01-Mar-16 16:10:59

I have been ignoring her, which is probably why she's upped the anti and has started being a bit more snide. I think the fact Im giving the impression she is not bothering me is probably getting to her.

DaggerEyes Tue 01-Mar-16 16:11:26

Can you use the 'handbags at dawn' method? By this, I mean whenever she tries to take a swipe at you, say something like.."oooooohh, that's me told then!" all very cheery and with a very subtle hint of sarcasm. Also "oh yes, heaven forbid that we get the drinks messed up now! Ho Ho Ho, you do worry don't you?"
I'd also push the angle that she is a worrier, a stress head, and that it's all ok, she can relax etc.

RatherBeRiding Tue 01-Mar-16 16:11:30

Whatever you don, don't blow. You will be the one who loses out and, honestly, it won't be worth it.

I agree it's a control issue, and for some reason she feels threatened by you. Maybe because you are a nice person, good at your job, and well thought of at the agency. And she isn't! Try to keep that in mind when she is being irritating and it might help deflect your emotions a bit.

Stay completely calm, do not let her see you are bothered, keep a huge wide-eyed smile on your face at all times when interacting with her and find a way of dealing with her snide comments that won't result in a blow-up.
"I'm sorry, did you say something?" about 10 seconds after a snide remark in a very distracted way with a puzzled look on your face. "Oh, what do you mean?" in a genuinely innocent way, again with the puzzled look and tilted head - and wait until she explains herself.

Take a little of the power back - won't stop her being a bitch but it might help you feel better about the situation and prevent an eruption!

VagueIdeas Tue 01-Mar-16 16:18:28

Since ignoring doesn't seem to work, how about responding to every patronising/undermining comment with the same phrase? Like Rather says, taking some of the power back and making it crystal clear that you know she's being a dick and you're not having it?

"Oh, what do you mean by that?" or a mildly sarcastic "^thankyou^, X!" (with a sickly smile) should do it smile

chumbler Tue 01-Mar-16 16:18:50

Can you speak to the class teacher?

I had a similar situation with a colleague, I never said anything but always wish I had, something like "what a strange/odd thing to say to me', or even to sit down and ask in a friendly if I've done anything to offend her, listing some examples of when she's been off with me (even though I'm thinking she's a total bitch!!!!) I never did and ended up leaving, I do wonder if things would have improved if I'd stood up for myself a bit more but it's so hard when theyve worked there longer and when it's so subtle. I also found it hard that other colleagues never said anything to her as she had form for it and lots of people knew it was going on! I hope you manage to sort it, what a shame some people just never grow up

Fugghetaboutit Tue 01-Mar-16 16:20:06

Don't leave because of her

MintyChapstick Tue 01-Mar-16 16:23:28

I don't think she's bad at her job in the sense that she's bad with the kids. In fact she's very good with them, but she has no GCSE's due to a learning disability (told me this early on) where as I've been to Univerisity and have a degree etc. I don't boast about it, but when people ask me about my qualifications I will obviously tell them about it.

Notonthestairs Tue 01-Mar-16 16:29:31

Dont challenge her - she may well enjoy a bit of confrontation and you wont come out of it well. Teachers are busy enough without worrying that their TA's are squabbling (which is totally unfair in this instance but it is how it will look to a bystander). And I would put money on the fact that you havent offended her.

Ignore, smile and/or act distracted.

Its four weeks - hang on in there.

Fizrim Tue 01-Mar-16 16:33:57

Quote from the OP I have blown in this situation before and it came back on me and I ended up having to leave my job over it

Honestly, I would check with a third party (such as the class teacher) before you make any comments or complaints. You sound quite aggressive towards the other TA, calling her a bitch and a bully. Killing with kindness is the way to go!

BrightBagLady Tue 01-Mar-16 16:34:12

YYYY to repeating back/asking politely what she says? It turns the focus back on her and requires her to come up with a response/reaction iyswim. Be super, super polite but firm. This way she could not complain about you doing so.

"Oh Johnny doesn't have drinks like that". "Oh, sorry, can you explain - why does't Johnny have drinks like that". "The paperwork shouldn't be put there" "Oh? Please can you explain what you mean the paperwork shouldn't be put there?"

Some like the shoes one - again repeat but no necessarily question "Susies had those shoes for ages" "Oh Susie - Miss BF says you have had these shoes for ages, I thought they were only a few weeks old -never mind, silly me."

She is trying to goad you/push you. She may not even realise she is doing it.

By turning the stuff back to her to explain you will put her on the spot. She will not like it. It will become uncomfortable to her, she will realise what she is doing and hopefully she will stop.

Inertia Tue 01-Mar-16 16:36:39

I think if your mental health is fragile and you feel as though you are going to blow your top, it would be better to deal with the situation before that happens- either go to your doctor to get help with that, or ask the agency to be moved and tell them why.

You could approach the teacher to explain that you're seeking support with managing an awkward situation (as opposed to feeling as though you're telling tales), or approach your line manager at the supply agency to ask how they manage this particular behaviour from this woman.

However, if you can respond by staying calm- either jolly and patronising, or act puzzled so that you has to explain bitchy comments- then you will be managing the situation yourself. It sounds as though she lacks confidence in her skills in comparison with you.

MintyChapstick Tue 01-Mar-16 16:38:03

In what way am I agressive towards her Fizzrim? I have had to put up with these snide comments for weeks and have until now ignored them. Everyone has a limit and I've reached mine, and yes, what she is doing is attempting to bully me so I feel quit justified in calling her a bitch.

MadamDeathstare Tue 01-Mar-16 16:39:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MadamDeathstare Tue 01-Mar-16 16:46:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LagunaBubbles Tue 01-Mar-16 16:48:54

You sound quite aggressive towards the other TA, calling her a bitch and a bully

Its aggressive to call someone a bully? Even if they are displaying bullying behaviour? Really? No wonder bullies get away with it so much.

TubbyTabby Tue 01-Mar-16 16:51:29

she's jealous.
take the high ground and ignore the aul' bitch.
if you blow up at her, you'll have played right into her hands.

MintyChapstick Tue 01-Mar-16 16:51:42

My mental health is better than it was a fortnight ago. I'd have been on the verge of blowing regardless of it as I tend to take stuff for ages and then just explode. I had thought of reporting her to our agency, but I think that's quite vindictive.

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