My Boss Is Unwilling To Help

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about interrupting, pushy coworker:

I am a teacher, and I have been having problems with the teacher whose classroom is next door to mine. She interrupts my class very often, sending kids asking for things like tape and markers. I have let things slide, but the other day I got very angry. She wanted to sell to me a fundraiser card for her son’s football team, and I told her I didn’t have any cash on me, that I would buy it from her another day when I did have cash. She is very pushy and just left it on my desk and said to pay her back whenever I could. Since the bell had rung to start the next class, I didn’t have any opportunity to say no.The next day, she sends student, DURING class-time, to ask me for the money. I decided to take it up to the principal, and he asked if I had talked to her in the past. I said yes, I have told her a couple of times before not to interrupt my class. He told me that we need to resolve this like adults, and if not that we will have to have mediation, and that will go on my file and will not look very good on me. I don’t think it is fair that I look bad when I have told this person in the past not to interrupt my class. Also, I am not the only teacher who has had problems with her. There are several (about 5) more teachers who have had issues with this person. I would hope administration would see who the real problem is, but my principal seems to be doing the CYA.

Signed, Don’t Like Being Pushed

Dear┬áDon’t Like Being Pushed:

I expect that you will like my answer. Your principal probably is CYA, but if you told him what you describe in your question to us, he likely didn’t see a major problem. Sure the next-door teacher is pushy to you. Sure she assumed you would cough up the money for her kid. Sure she sent a student to interrupt your class and has sent students for this and that other times. All minor irritations, that to you are major because she rubs you the wrong way. Why should he trouble himself by telling Ms. Pushy to back off.

You are an adult and you obviously have the nerve to tell her to back off again and say it more firmly. There are many and much more serious problems before you such as a classroom of students who want your attention. You can handle an occasional interruption with you simply sending a student back with the requested item or with a note: “Please, don’t send a student to interrupt my class again.”

The fact is that you don’t like your co-worker. And that’s OK. You can be civilly uncooperative if you choose. Or you can be nasty if that suits you better. Hopefully, you will not allow the woman sour your mood in such a way that you complain about her to other teachers or your students. Hopefully, you can be so excited about your students and connecting with their parents that you will surprise them with creative ways to learn. Hopefully, you will see the larger picture and not also fill your heart with anger toward your principal. Hopefully, you will find some small value in my advice as you say, “That is easy for him to say; he doesn’t have Ms. Pushy in the next classroom.” And hopefully you can laugh as you have my signature echo in your mind: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden