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To think that this is workplace discrimination?

(65 Posts)
poshsinglemum Mon 17-Aug-09 11:39:16

Or am I just shite at my job. I suspect I am.

I got pregnant two months into a new job that had a lot of potential. It was shit timing for me and my employers. I felt really guilty telling them. They also knew that I was facing the pregnancy alone as my boyfriend was being an arsehole.

Before I told my employers that I was pregnant I was an emotional wreck and could not focus on work as my boyfriend was putting a lot of pressuer on me to get an abortion and I was really torn about what to do.

I was teaching btw and during this time I upset one of the students as I told him off. You have to understand that nowadays, syudents get very indignant at being told off as they ''know their rights.'' To be fair, my teaching was poor as I was a mess.

This said student started a hate site in on the internet about me. A few of my students wrote some very nasty comments about me including a violent comment about me. When they found out I was pregnant then one of the students threatened violence to my unborn child.

Of course this all came to light and I was devastated. My manager had a meeting with me and told me that they had to examine why this happened. He told me that I should not have told the students I was pregnant. (Hello- I had a bump and they guessed anyway.) He also told me that if my teaching was better then they wouldn't have written this stuff about me.I walked out of the meeting.

AIBU to think that he was being out of order. Even if I was the worst teacher on the planet it dosn't excuse students writing violent comments about me.
I feel that they disapproved of me being pregnant alone and wanted to deflect blame onto me ratrher than the students.

i feel like I left that job on a bad note and I am worried about references. Although after the way I've been treated mabe teaching isn't the best option for me.

I can admit that I was a crap teacher and that I didn't react to the revelation in an entirely professional manner but then I was pregnant, alone and scared. I am very upset about all this and am not sure how to come to terms with it.

Longtalljosie Mon 17-Aug-09 11:44:14

You sound very down and keen to blame yourself. Doubtless you didn't react to it perfectly - but neither did your employer by the sounds of things. Are you in a union?

poshsinglemum Mon 17-Aug-09 11:44:33

Also, it was my probabtional year and my manager kept failing me.
I asked him to set me targets each week as I wanted to know what he wanted me to do and I didn't feel that he was being clear enough.
He started to give me about four substantial targets per week. I wasn't able to complete all of the targets in a space of a week although I did try to complete most of them. If I didn't complete all of the targets, he then used this as ''evidence'' to suggest that I hadn't reached all of my standards. He kept suggesting that I couldn't take criticism. Even though, towards the end of the year I had completed all targets. I was heavily pregnant at teh time and the other student teacher didn't have any targets to complete.

i think he just hated me because I stood up to him and didn't want me to pass.

poshsinglemum Mon 17-Aug-09 11:46:01

I'm in a union but they havn't been veryu helpful and have just told me to put it behind me.

It never ceases to amaze me how crap human beings are to each other.

poshsinglemum Mon 17-Aug-09 11:50:23

I feel ver despondent at work and just feel that I am going to be stuck in a job I hate forever. It's just the politics that gets to me.
I would have been able to keep my head down if it wasn't for my pregnancy.

I feel like a drama queen.

staggerlee Mon 17-Aug-09 11:54:25

I'm incredulous at both your students and employer! I'm so sorry this happened when you were feeling so vulnerable anyway.

First of all some of your students broke the law by threatening you. Your employer also has an obligation in terms of your health and safety and to undertake a risk assessment due to your pregnancy. They have failed you on a number of levels and you may want to consider taking advice about this-are you a union member?

I feel really sad that you are blaming yourself for this. Even if your teaching was poor there is no excuse for what happened. Its a disgrace that your manager reacted in this way and frankly giving students the message that its ok to bully and threaten pregnant women.

Please get some specialist advice about this and good luck.

randomtask Mon 17-Aug-09 12:01:33

I don't know about all of this but, my DH has just had his PGCE year and yes if he didn't manage to hit his targets it would have been a mark against him. Seems fair enough to me. I do realise though that if you've asked for those targets it's not quite the same.

Surely your standards folder showed you'd done all of them? DH hit his (was stressed as newly married, family problems etc but obviously not pregnant and was getting support from me) but the only people who were given targets were ones who weren't very good teachers and it was used to chuck them off the course if they didn't hit their targets. I wonder if that's what they were trying to do with you.

I don't think it's good that they seem to have not supported you in your first year but TBH, if you're admitting you were a crap teacher and were struggling with it, they probably hoped you'd drop out. I don't agree with it (and definitely you should have more support) but I suspect that's what happened. Plus, if a teacher has that much of a messy personal life and can't keep it at home, pupils will tear them to shreds.

It's bloody difficult teaching and also handling pupils, but it sounds like you admit you took the wrong approach and put your teaching aside whilst worrying about your personal life (perfectly understandably). Maybe once things are settled you can reconsider if teaching is the right thing for you. All of us would be struggling if we were in your situation, let alone in a probation year of teaching.

As for what the pupils did, it is unacceptable and they should have been reprimanded but unfortunately in this day and age it's too common. I do youth work and if you're not 'on a level' with the youngsters they will be very unfair and cruel. I imagine if you were a teacher it would be much worse. You probably could have gone to the police about it but I think the union people are right to say put it behind you and move on. You won't win if you think you were a bad teacher, even if the management were bad, they'll just argue you weren't working with them.

Sorry you're having to deal with this when you should be enjoying your baby.

poshsinglemum Mon 17-Aug-09 12:09:02

I think so. I am not a very good teacher- I know this as my heart isn't in it and I do want to change careers.
I asked for the targets however, as i came out of my meetings woiith him none the wiser as to what he wanted me to do that week. I was very confused.
the good thinng is, I have had time to think about how to do things differently as I have a chance to go back and do it at a different school. If I don't pass my NQT year it will be dissapointing but no great surprise.

Stigaloid Mon 17-Aug-09 12:09:02

Threaten libel action. report the site to the police - especially the violence threatened. Any child over 10 can be prosecuted.

poshsinglemum Mon 17-Aug-09 12:14:39

Actually, most of the students were lovely about my pregnancy and they knew I wasn't married. It was just a bitter minority.
Most of the staff were lovely too- again, just a bitter minority were awful.
I don't think that I can get references though.

I was discouraged from going to the police.

They will probably read this and use it as further evidence of how unprofessional I am.

I was made to feel like a trouble maker although I suspect I AM a trouble maker.

If they were trying to get rid of me by squeezing me out through bullying tactics rather than telling me straight then I don't want to be involved inb such a profession.

IMO most of the so- called ''caring'' professions employ similar tactics. My mum was forced into an early retirement.

Going self-employed is the way foward imo.

staggerlee Mon 17-Aug-09 12:15:06

The students were more than unfair and cruel, they were threatening. Their behaviour was condoned by the management at the school. As a parent I would be furious if my son behaved like this and got away with it.

The problem with 'moving on' Random is that the problem then persists. That said its up to posh how she chooses to deal with it.

poshsinglemum Mon 17-Aug-09 12:16:58

I would love teaching if I felt that the teachers have any rights. The most you can do is give detention.

Big deal- most of the kids use detention to show how 'cool' they are.

KembleTwins Mon 17-Aug-09 12:20:23

I do have sympathy with you posh Teaching is hard, and not for the faint hearted. It is really difficult to teach at all, let alone well, if you are not able to put everything into it, and it sounds like you just weren't in a position to be able to do that.

However, your manager was at fault for not supporting you. This isn't terribly helpful advice after the fact, but did you keep a written record of your meetings? If you did, then you can use that to help bring a grievance, as you were not supported as you should have been in your NQT year. Your union should be able to help you with this. If your school rep isn't very good, go for your county rep, and if you still get no joy, the go for your national exec member. You pay your fees (presumably) so are entitled to get support from them - no national exec member would simply tell you to "put it behind you".

As for the website - if necessary, take it to the police. Is the website still live? At my last school, a sixth former set up a website to say bitchy things about another sixth former she had fallen out with. The girl's parents went to the police, and it was dealt with very seriously - "cyberbullying" is a big issue.

You poor thing - it's hard enough to jump through all the hoops for NQT year, without having to deal with other things too. Agree with randomtask to an extent though - maybe teaching isn't for you??

randomtask Mon 17-Aug-09 12:21:10

If you know your heart isn't in it, of course you'll struggle. DH loves it and everybody who has seen him teach says he's 'meant to be a teacher' and he's still struggled in the past year as it's stressful, it's very pressured and he still needs to maintain an air of 'relaxed' around his pupils. He's about to start his NQT year and we know it'll be hell again.

Your manager/mentor can make a big difference. DH's first mentor was wonderful, he flourished and enjoyed it. Second one was rubbish, barely spoke to him and didn't encourage him at all (she was younger than him with less experience and seemed to hold it against him) in fact all she did was spend all the time telling him not to smile at girls(?!). The third mentor was fun but more of an 'equal'. Needless to say, all schools offered him jobs and he's accepted the first.

If you really don't want to be a teacher, don't waste your time and energies doing your NQT year. It'll kill you and the kids/staff will know. (sorry to be so blunt but I feel you should know what you're facing).

poshsinglemum Mon 17-Aug-09 12:22:45

I am really enjoying my baby thanks random. I am having the time of my life as I don't have to go back to work for ages.

I feel that I have dealt with it quite well as mostly it's buried but it does bubble to the surface.

I have chosen to feel that the students involved are pathetic and that their comments are a testament to that.

I have chosen to rise above it and I have realised that my manager was stressed as he himself had a very young baby at the time.

I think That I am happier in my ''messy'' personal life than I have ever been. I have decided to give my NQT year one last shot and if I don't pass then it is an opportunity to explore new pastures.

What irkes me is taht I feel like the perpetrator an nuisance in an incident that was against me.

I just feel that what happened to me is a clear indicatoin of how the profession is going. Students are ruling the schools and teachers are powerless to do anything.

They will be asking students to make up the rules nest.

poshsinglemum Mon 17-Aug-09 12:25:54

Funnily enough, I absolutely love tefl teaching and I am good at it. I got a lot of glowing reports.

Mind you, teaching poor kids in Asia who actually want to learn is very different from teaching in the local comp.

My dad is a teacher and he found it tough in the comp which is why he now teaches in a posh school.

I loved my rough comp in Liverpool as the kids were upfront.
The school where the cyber thing happened is a middle class school- the kids aren't a sin your face naughty- just more devious!

slug Mon 17-Aug-09 12:29:03

This is a bit of a common tactic by SMP I'm afraid. If anything goes wrong, blame the teacher. The fact is, you were in your NQT year, you should have been supported. Your employers have failed in their duty of care towards you.

The school has no right to discourage you from approaching the police. The fact is, many of them use this tactic to hide the shortcomings in their own internal systems. You absolutely should go to the police about this. You, and your unborn child have been threatened. Your school has failed in it's duty of care towards you. And finally, nobody gets teaching right first time. It takes time and experience to mature into that job.

Check out the TES forums for support and advice about what to do now.

poshsinglemum Mon 17-Aug-09 12:29:25

Also random, I have found that the thing that has ruined teaching me is not the students (they are the reason why I do it after all) but the other teachers and the politics which I have encountered.

randomtask Mon 17-Aug-09 12:36:27

The politics change from school to school. Some of the schools DH looked at he hated-said you can tell what they're like by the staff room. If you can find a school where there is a nice atmosphere, then you'll be happy there.

I've had loads of people tell me I should be a teacher and I'd love it from the pupils point of view but couldn't cope with politics. It's bad enough in a money making office! That's why I stick to youth work as you get to choose what you do more.

DH found he hated the 'posh' schools and loved teaching in the comps as there was more teaching to do. But then as I say, he's ridiculously relaxed and laid back whilst teaching so in his first year has only given out two detentions. I find that quite annoying but it's probably why he's enjoying it!

poshsinglemum Mon 17-Aug-09 12:41:35

I felt under pressure to give a lot of detentions at the said school random. Then when I gave them out my tool of a manager told me I was giving out too many. In fact the more I write this, the more I realise it was probably HIS issue.
He was a new manager and had to proove himself. Plus he had a baby boy and may have felt a bit out of his depth with me!

dollyparting Mon 17-Aug-09 12:42:28

Agree with random's question about whether your heart is really in it?

Your OP is full of self doubt about whether you are / can be any good at your job. We all have some of those feelings some of the time, but if that is how you feel most of the time then you are really going to have to do something.

One of the biggest challenges of teaching is getting control of, and staying in control of, a large group of people. Even if you have all the makings of a great teacher, if you have a lot of self-doubt then that is going to be extremely difficult, particularly with a crowd of teenagers.

My friend was a successful teacher for years but lost confidence after a couple of years in a very difficult school environment. She left teaching (thinking that she hated it and was crap at it), studied for a PhD, worked in research and has now returned to teaching. She is in a school with students who are more willing to learn, and with colleagues and managers who are supportive.

So how can you generate belief in your own abilities to teach and to control a classroom? It's going to be a long, tough journey if you don't like the profession, love the job and love yourself.

violethill Mon 17-Aug-09 12:44:12

As far as the threats of violence are concerned, I would inform the police. It's totally unacceptable that anyone should be treated like that, and frankly, if more professionals took a firm stand against this type of criminal behaviour, the better for everyone.

Regarding the rest of your post, you recognise yourself that you weren't up to scratch. If you weren't meeting your targets, there's every chance you would have failed the NQT year anyway. Teaching in the state sector is very demanding and rigorous, and tbh, if you were letting your personal life affect your work life, then your employer was right to be concerned. I'm not saying they handled this correctly btw, just that it seems on balance as though you weren't going to make it through the year successfully.

However, your post shows a good deal of insight - you recognise that this job is not for you, so hopefully you can now move on from this and find a career you really enjoy.

KembleTwins Mon 17-Aug-09 12:45:26

You have had a rough time posh. I've taught in three very different schools - one top comp, one bottom of the barrel comp and one inbetween. All schools have their problems. I found more politics in the nicer school, but more problematic students in the rough one. The cyber bullying incident was at the middling one. If you're able, try to find a totally different school to finish your NQT year, and if you feel you're having problems with your line manager, record everything - you are entitled to much more support than you recieved.

violethill Mon 17-Aug-09 12:52:04

As a (very) general rule, I'd say the 'nicer' the school, the worse the politics tend to be. When you are working in a truly challenging environment, people have less time for petty politics and pull together. Conversely, I know people who teach in posh schools where politics are rife and the staff are not happy.

oneopinionatedmother Mon 17-Aug-09 12:53:10

1) your first year in a new job is going to be difficult -and you are unlikely to be perfect. This is why people value experience.
2) the threats against you should have been acted on by the school, but also by the host of the website - they should remove it if you complain. It may take place out of school, but that doesn't mean tthey couldn't take action.
3) Targets you ask for but are not contractually obliged to meet are different.

what happened though - did they sack you, or do you just not want to go back?

mentioning your pregnancy to your class is your own business, your employer mentioning pregnancy in any negative light (i mean you could distill what he said as meaning 'its your fault for being pregnant') seems discriminatory.

being crap at a job when you start is not a sign it isn't meant for you. In my work place they reckon on 18 months at least before you start to be good. Certainly my sisters first year of teaching went badly, (she had to extra on her PGCE) but now she works in a prestigious school and greatly enjoys it.

i have to say i found being in a new job whilst preganant and going through all the exhaustion etc (even with supportive husband) very difficult - there is no 'autopilot' to switch on.

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