Friday, October 19, 2012

My Workplace Snake

I have left some pretty pointed status updates of Facebook about a backstabber at work. Discretion being the better part of valor, I'm obviously not going to give details on FB. I purposely don't have work friends on my Facebook, so I'm not worried about anyone their seeing my updates.

Still, this is my story and I feel like sharing it here, so I'm doing it password protected. This is what has transpired.

Several months ago we lost an instructor (and I was very happy to see her go) and for a short time I had to teach very long days. Overtime or no, it was not a schedule I wanted to keep, so I found someone else to bring aboard.

This person was someone who came recommended highly to me and I also had some feedback on him from a couple of students I had placed where he worked. He really needed the job because he was losing the job he had when I met him (not for job performance--he's a very good pharmacy technician). When my immediate supervisor interviewed him she had some reservations about him because she thought "I have a feeling he's going to want to run the show." My famous last words (which are true) were "I can take care of myself."

His profile: competent, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, immature, arrogant and (it turns out) not a great judge of character. Boy, did he misread me.

The really funny thing is that I actually think we make a very good team. He certainly acted like we were on the same team.

The only reason I wasn't completely blindsided when my supervisor said the three of us needed to sit down and talk is because a couple of students got wind of something and gave me a heads up.

There is a parallel story here without which my main story can't be told. I teach in a modular program where students are coming in and leaving on a monthly basis, so the personality of the class constantly evolves. I have had a group of students (thank goodness they're almost done--they are in his class right now) that were just horrible. Let's call them the Sour Six.

The six of them came in at once and had an immediate conflict with the group of six that had started the month before them. There was palpable hostility in the air. Several people in the new group became enraged over the fact that I expected them to read a syllabus, to follow a schedule without prompting, and to come to class. After the first month--and the terrible grades they had to show for it--they by-and-large got on board with doing things my way. However, they were never going to forgive me for calling them out by responding to whines of "But I didn't knoooow it was due," by saying "Then I guess you'd better start reading the schedule."

In addition to loathing me, this group of students loved Mr. Snake because he subbed for me the second week of their first module.

A couple of weeks ago this group of students entered Mr. Snake's class (the last one of the program) and it must have all seemed so fortuitous to him. They wanted to get rid of me and he wanted my job.

Letters were written, meetings were requested.

On Monday students presented their letter asking for me to be fired and replaced with Mr. Snake.

On Tuesday Mr. Snake had a meeting with my supervisor's two supervisors (Dean of Students and V.P.)
and expressed "concerns" about what a bad teacher I was. The first thing they asked him was, "Have you talked to her supervisor." When he said no they brought the supervisor in. She asked, "Have you talked to her directly?" He said no and she said, "Then this meeting is over. I'll schedule another with her."

That meeting happened Wednesday and I didn't know any of the above. I had that hint from a couple of students that something was brewing. My supervisor just said the meeting was to discuss some communication issues.

She opened with inviting him to express his concerns. Oh, they were myriad. Remember when Barack Obama told  Mitt Romeny, "Please, continue"? It was like that. He was pretty shocked to find out that every single thing he thought I didn't do well was something mandatory in the standardized curriculum I am required to use. And the final exam that he considers to cover the wrong material? The very one I use because it is my job to do so. He was unaware of the binder full (hahahahhaha) of curriculum feedback forms I have submitted to corporate in an attempt to have things changed (a little something I like to call working within the system so that I can keep earning a paycheck). Also, did he realize that the modules he was complaining about were the rollout of a brand-new format and curriculum? He did not.

The upshot was that he seems to understand the whole system a little better than he did before (If only he had read the materials I gave him) and he has (hopefully) learned that ignoring the chain of command is frowned upon in our organization.

In a karma-like turn of events, he was late for class the next day. He tends to run late. Normally I would cover for him, but as I saw his students (the Sour Six) outside his dark, locked classroom I did not do as I normally do--open the door for them and turn on the lights. No, I walked downstairs and said to my supervisor, "There appears to be no teacher in Room ____."

Not being able to leave students with no teacher, she sat in the room for 20 minutes waiting for him. She was not happy with his tardiness, but it did give her 20 minutes to soak in the poisonous vibe of the Sour Six and wonder how I was able to stand it for the last six months.

Which brings us to the Facebook status updates. If you threaten my job, you threaten my ability to pay for my children's college educations and I am not having that. Not for one minute.

I don't want him to lose his job (and he is very lucky I don't) because I think he has some good knowledge that enriches the program.

I do, however, want him to realize that he had better never screw with me again and believe me he will get the point. And it will happen without me behaving in any way that is less than professional. You're not good at paperwork, answering emails, being on time or being accountable for teaching the prescribed curriculum? You'd better get good overnight--cause it. is. on.