Some Bosses Have No Principals

, , , , , , | Healthy | January 4, 2021

I teach high school, and I am going through an unknown medical ailment for which I am undergoing a battery of tests. This happens over text, as I’m updating my principal as to what is going on.

Me: “I’ve just finished with my spinal tap. They said I can work, but I may end up with a debilitating headache, so would someone be able to cover my class if I need to go lay down for an hour? Or should I just take the day off?”

Boss: “It’s too hard to find a sub. If you need it, we will find someone to cover your class.”

A few hours later, I get a call from my doctor. I’m told to check myself into the ER based on the results of my spinal tap. I text the principal again.

Me: “I’m sorry, but I can’t come in tomorrow after all. I’m currently at the hospital; my doctor told me to go to the ER immediately when he got the results of my spinal tap.”

Boss: “Seriously? You know how hard it is to find subs. You’ve put me in a very difficult spot here. When will you be back?”

Me: “I can’t tell you. I haven’t been told anything besides, ‘Check yourself into the ER,’ at this point. I’m guessing it’s going to be at least a couple of days.”

Boss: “I hope you know what a terrible inconvenience this is for us. You know we have a hard time getting subs, and especially at this late notice and without any information, it’s going to be difficult to cover your time off. You’ve already taken off a good portion of this year and now you’re taking off more time?”

I recently gave birth to my first child and took maternity leave. At this point, I’m sobbing, terrified of not knowing what’s medically wrong with me, and feeling terrible for having to take off because of my boss’s comments. It takes my husband an hour to calm me down.

For the record, I wound up in the hospital for nearly a week and went back to work with an IV still in my arm for continued treatment at home. I was not sad at all when I left after that year ended. And no, my boss never so much as asked me how I was doing at any point through the entire ordeal.

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Not Just Blowing Our Own Horns Here

, , , , , , | Learning | December 31, 2020

I am a music teacher at a high school in the US; specifically, I teach the band. Due to the health crisis, all of my students sit six feet apart and use hand sanitizer at the beginning and end of the period, but apparently, this isn’t enough for some people.

One day, near the beginning of the school year, I have this conversation with the principal.

Principal: “Your students need to wear masks during class.”

I laugh and think he’s joking, because… really?

Principal: “I’m serious. You need to make them keep their masks on. It’s a health hazard.”

Me: “They can’t. It’s band. They cannot play their instruments with masks on.”

Principal: “You aren’t trying hard enough to find a solution. This is important.”

Me: “Look. The orchestra wears masks when they play. You’ve somehow convinced the choir teacher to have students wear masks while they’re singing. But the band cannot play with masks on.”

Principal: “You just need to try harder!”

By now, I’m fed up. I tell him to wait for a minute and I get my flute. I come back and take my mask off for a moment.

Me: “Listen to this.”

I play a long note and then put my mask back on.

Me: “Now listen to this.”

I raise the flute again and blow, but, to the surprise of absolutely no one with two or more brain cells, there is no sound. I see a look of understanding dawn in his eyes.

Principal: “I, uh, see.”

He walked away sheepishly.

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Adorning Yourself With Malicious Compliance

, , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: TandyAngie | November 16, 2020

Our junior high dress code is a pain. Most teachers don’t care so long as kids aren’t distracting. The principal of the junior high, however, insists on enforcing every single rule.

A friend of mine wears a long-sleeve shirt under a tank top.

Principal: “You cannot wear that tank top; tank tops are against the dress code. Please take it off.”

Friend: “I can’t take off the tank top; the long-sleeve shirt is slightly see-through.”

That’s another violation. Instead of allowing her to simply wear the tank over her long-sleeve shirt, the principal sends her home.

I decide this won’t stand. I study every rule in the dress code to prove how stupid it is. I start off small and work my way up.

Dress Code: “No open-toed sandals.”

This one is easy. I wear open-toed high heels. There’s nothing in the rules against high heels, and the open-toed rule only applies to sandals the way it is written.

Dress Code: “Shirts must be tucked into pants. Belts must be worn through belt loops.”

I knock out two here by wearing a skirt. Skirts, or at least the one I wear, have no belt loops and aren’t considered pants so I am not required to tuck in anything or wear a stupid belt.

Dress Code: “Backpacks must be plain-colored with no pins or excessive accessories.”

I pick up a briefcase from a resale shop and slap it with every sticker I can find. Any random logo or inspirational sticker I have laying around gets slapped on it. Technically, a briefcase isn’t a backpack.

Dress Code: “No costumes allowed.”

I verify this; my school considers a costume to be anything only worn for a certain period of time or for a certain reason. If you wear it all day, it is an outfit, not a costume. I abuse this one so badly. Once a week, I dress up as a lawyer, a clown, a hippie, a Shakespearean actor, a superhero, a cameraman, etc., complete, of course, with as many accessories as I can handle. So long as I never take them off — this makes gym class interesting — they aren’t considered part of a costume. I end up letting classmates pick out what I will dress as each week.

Dress Code: “No crazy hairstyles.”

I keep my hair natural colors, and I keep the styles something that was at least popular at one point. The beehive takes forever but is the most satisfying. I give myself bonus points if I can find pictures of adults who are still wearing their hair like that currently.

Dress Code: “Shirts are not allowed to have logos or print, only patterns and consistent designs.”

“Consistent designs” is my loophole here. No print, fine, but consistent print made specifically to look like a design? At this point, the principal is going mad and she doesn’t let this one slide. She insists I change, which I expected.

Dress Code: “Gym shorts must reach students’ knees or as long as their fingertips.”

Guess whose fingertips reach about three inches below her butt? Me! I go from wearing a shirt that says, “Bite me!” all over it to an outfit that includes short shorts. But my shorts are still longer than my fingers. I even offer to change back into my other clothes.

At this point in the year, we are almost done with school. Other kids are following my lead, and we are driving the principal mad. I decide to kick it up a bit further. I attack what should be the most basic rules.

Dress Code: “No sunglasses.”

Rose-colored glasses aren’t considered sunglasses because you can easily see through them. Still, the principal jerks them off my face and insists that I won’t get them back until the end of the day.

Dress Code: “No tank tops.”

I wear a dress with spaghetti straps. It isn’t a shirt, so I’m not breaking a rule.

Dress Code: “Belts must be plain with no dangerous materials.”

Plain it must be, so plain I go. I wear a shoestring as a belt. I wear a braided yarn string as a belt. I even wear a spandex band sewn to my pants as a belt.

Dress Code: “No Crocs.”

Crocs are not the only rubber shoe, my friends. I find every off-brand Croc I can get a hold of.

Finally, at the end of the year, I wear one of my most outrageous outfits. I wear a see-through dress — like a bathing suit cover-up — over leggings and a shirt that barely classifies as a T-shirt. I wear shoes with a four-inch cork heel. I have on fake glasses — no lenses — and a four-inch-wide headband. I wear bangles up to my elbows and anklets on each foot. I have a box to carry my books in that is decorated with blinking battery-powered fairy lights. I walk right up to the principal and give her a smile.

Kids pause to see what will happen. I wait to see what the principal will say. We’ve had this conversation all year. She will point out the rule I “broke” and I will prove that I haven’t done so.

Principal: *Sigh* “Fine, but if even one teacher says you’re distracting to the class, you change clothes.”

We shake on it. The only thing I have to ditch is most of the bangles; they keep clanging while I write.

In the end, I ended up getting the dress code rewritten and amended, and the principal implemented a new procedure where dress code violations did not result in being sent home; they were noted and students had to wear a piece of duct tape indicating the specific violation. If you forgot a belt, you put a piece of tape on a belt loop.

Kids only started to get in trouble after three dress code violations in the same week. Since she lightened up on the dress code and how harshly it was punished, she stopped having trouble with kids breaking it all the time. It worked out for everyone.

Related:
Malicious Compliance, One Gram At A Time
Unloading Some Beautiful Malicious Compliance
REALLY Malicious Compliance
The Currency Of Malicious Compliance

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Welcome To Boss-Underling Relations The World Over

, , , , | Working | July 30, 2020

I’m an elementary school teacher. Our building is very old and has stairs going to the front door with no wheelchair ramp. Disabled students have to be dropped off in the back, as do deliveries that require carts.

I research grants and find a place that will provide the materials for a ramp for free. I contact the high school’s vocational prep teacher who says his students can build the ramp free of charge. But when I submit the grant to my principal for approval, she denies it, saying a ramp would interfere with pedestrian traffic when parents drop off their kids. Our students in wheelchairs continue to have to use the back door.

Several years later, the school was renovated. The board’s plan included a new ramp at the front door. Since it was built by a construction company, I’m sure it was quite pricey. 

I guess some things are bad ideas when an underling suggests them but great ideas when they come from your bosses.

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Teacher-Parent-Principal Relations Are Hardly Elementary

, , , , , , | Learning | June 17, 2020

At one point in my career, my family and I were moved to an oil town in west Texas. There were lots of non-natives constantly moving into and out of the city; we contrasted with the locals who’d been there for years. At first, it seemed there were no issues, but I turned out to be wrong.

We lived in a higher-income part of town primarily for the elementary school. We moved in the summer and our daughter entered second grade on time. There were three second-grade teachers of about equal and above-average ability so we would have been happy with any of them. My daughter had a great year.

Third grade was a different story. As with second grade, there were three teachers. One was roughly equivalent of the ones we’d had before and she’d be fine. One of them was God’s gift to education. Her classes did enormously creative things, homework was both practical and fun, and people would kill to get in her class.

The third teacher, though, was the antithesis of the great one. Her classes were dull, kids learned little, and she tended to belittle her students. She was colloquially known as “The Blonde-Haired Witch” and we wanted to avoid her like the plague.

My wife had spent our daughter’s second-grade year volunteering at the school and got to be friendly with the office staff. Knowing what she knew, she tried to ensure that our daughter got into the great teacher’s class, or at least avoided the BHW. Alas, the principal got wind of what she was trying to do and called her into his office.

The principal was a weaselly piece of work. He had a Ph.D. in education from one of the lesser universities in the state and insisted upon being referred to as “Doctor [Principal],” which gives you an idea of the pomposity of the man. He laid into my wife, informing her in no uncertain terms that the class lists would be put together in late July and she wasn’t to ask about it again.

My wife was humiliated and angry, and got even more so when one of the office staff took her aside and told her in confidence that the super teacher’s class for the next year was already set; all the students were children of the local movers and shakers, with no one with our transient status allowed.

To make things worse, our daughter ended up with the BHW. We ended up pulling her out and homeschooling her for a year before moving again.

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