I Hate it When this Happens

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There was an informal gathering of teachers (organized by a union) at my school yesterday. We have been very busy lately with lots of compulsory evening meetings initiated by our administration, more than in previous years. A lot of us worry about this; we fear that piling up meetings upon meetings won’t solve all the problems we face even though they are necessary to a degree.

However I did not attend the union’s casual gathering for two reasons. First it took place during a school hour and I didn’t want to miss a class as I’ll be away for two days next week due to the High Holidays. Then, with years, I have become wary of political response to school internal issues; I feel it often divides more than it unites us.

As I was leaving for lunch, a colleague came up to me and summed up what the people had just been saying, grieving over the fact that they seemed belligerent and in favor of an hostile letter to the administration rather than sending a delegation of our representatives as a first step.

We were in the corridor, next to the room where the other colleagues were discussing and arguing. I was telling him that I could see his point and would not sign something that was aggressive. One colleague overheard the last word and jumped to the conclusion that I was caling them all aggressive, especially the union man (a quiet man in fact). He then opened the door to join his “friends” and vilified what he called my attitude in front of 30 other people, most of whom are honest folks I rather appreciate even if I disagree with them on this particular issue – or rather the means to get to an end.

The conversation in the staff room stopped and everybody stared at me. I obviously felt awful and hurt that my words had been so distorted and there was very little I could do. I tried to defend myself but felt it was rather useless. I now have the feeling that 30 people think I have been insulting them behind their backs.

Is there anything I can do?

12 thoughts on “I Hate it When this Happens

  1. Oh, these are annoying situations. It strikes me how childish teachers can be. I am left speechless when I see what teachers dare to say to each other during meetings, or the fuss they make about things that are (imo) not that important. There is so much frustration in that behaviour.

    Personally, I think you should just leave it. You didn’t do anything wrong. One of those teachers, in the heat of the moment, overheard you say something and explained it in his own way, then started a revolt with teachers that were already agitated.

    Often, after the weekend emotions will have calmed down and people will have forgotten all about it. Even if they didn’t, emotions will have calmed down so you could explain what happened to one of them, and then the rest will know soon enough. Good luck and shabbat shalom!

  2. I think that it’s awfully unfair what happened to you. I don’t agree that it will blow over soon. I think that you have every right to correct your colleague’s misperceptions about what you said.
    Why not try writing your thoughts down and posting it in the teacher’s lounge for the other teachers to read? Just be very careful how you word your message, so that it doesn’t get misconstrued again. And take the memo down after a day or two, so that the whole issue comes to an end.
    Good luck.

  3. Maybe you could bring a little basket of fruit in or something to snack on, with a note attached, just saying that you are sorry for any mis-understandings. You could leave it in the teacher’s lounge or break room.

    Melissa

  4. I know the feeling! I recently heard that a colleague had drawn her own conclusions from what I’d said and spread the word efficiently amongst other colleagues, I heard from all this from another one, a friend of mine who offered to help… but I said: Unfortunately people always believe what they want to believe, those who do not have a nice impression of me, won’t change that whatever I try to do — so I don’t even bother. Those who are my true friends, they’ll come to me and ask: is this what you really said, and when tell them what I actually said, they believe me.

  5. The problem was that you were put on the spot in front of 30 people. I’m sure that on an individual basis, most of your colleagues will continue to maintain a professional relationship and will soon forget this ever happened. The few that remain irritated were probably not your favorite people to begin with.

    I do hope this blows over soon. Good luck.

  6. Oy, what a nasty piece of business. I’m sure that in time, when tempers cool, people will be more willing to listen and see that you were misunderstood. Good luck!

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