I had my first dose of dealing with a negative co-worker while being in a leadership role yesterday. I wanted to sit down and write this right after it happened, but the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in my teaching career is to never say (or write) anything while upset. So I slept on it.
This year, I’ve been put in charge of small group meetings with our middle school pod (about 12 people). I facilitate the meetings and act as a liaison between my pod and our principal. One of my pod-mates is a very cynical, pessimistic person when it comes to change, as he’s been teaching for nearly 30 years and is somewhat stuck in his ways. He resents having to attend our bi-weekly meetings. He’s a good teacher (usually), and he genuinely cares about his students. He’s just not good at keeping his comments and complaints to himself.
So, as I was leaving yesterday, he and a group of other staff members (not all part of our pod) were standing near the front door. As I walked by, he made a comment about our pod meetings being awful. I stopped, looked him in the eye, and said, “Thanks,” then continued walking out of the building. A good friend and co-worker happened to be listening too, and I’m sure he got an earful from her after I left.
When I got to work this morning, there was an apology e-mail in my inbox, and he also made the effort to walk by my room and apologize in person this morning. I accepted his apology, but I still felt that I needed to let my principal know that it happened because it was not just between he and I, but other staff members as well. My principal, of course, was very supportive and ensured me that I was doing a good job.
This wasn’t the first time Mr. Negative has been brought up to them, and I’m sure it won’t be the last before he retires (which could be very soon).
Was I right to inform the principal? Did I react appropriately? I don’t know. I’m always looking back at these kinds of exchanges and analyzing what was said and what I could have said or done differently… I’m usually a really positive, optimistic person, and I don’t often let these things get to me – especially since I know that’s just his personality. But it really did this time.
Any advice on dealing with Mr. Negative?
Until next time…