One of the greatest dangers to the success of a new teacher is the influence of what I call Poison Teachers.
Poison Teachers are those teachers who spend their time complaining about everything and everyone.
They complain about the students. They complain about the parents. They complain about their workload. They complain about other teachers. They complain about the discipline policy. They complain about the administration, the district, the state, the government.
Poison teachers have nothing good to say about anything.
It has an effect on their students, their team, and eventually the school.
New teachers have to avoid Poison Teachers at all costs.
New teachers are the prime victims of Poison teachers. New teachers are looking to forge relationships in their new school. They want to be part of the school family. New teachers are still learning how things work, and they are open to advice and counsel of veteran teachers.
Poison Teachers will prey upon these rookie teachers, because the other teachers who know them don’t want to be around them.
I’ve seen how new teachers arrive at a school site with all this youthful energy and their Save-Every-Kid enthusiasm, and it’s refreshing and inspiring. Then they become connected with a Poison Teacher, and all that positive energy is drained from them, infected by the negativity of the Poison Teacher.
It’s so sad.
Administrators can’t fire a Poison Teacher because of tenure, so little by little the school atmosphere is sucked into the abyss of pessimism as the poison spreads. (That was deep.)
If you’re a new teacher, heed this warning: Keep away from Poison Teachers.
They’ll find you. You’ll be posting student work on your classroom walls or setting up a parent conference or laminating your positive behavior posters or standing out in the front of the school supervising the students as they walk in, and without you hearing them approach, the Poison Teacher will appear.
They’ll want to talk to you about “something that’s been on their mind.”
You won’t want to be rude, so you’ll listen, nod your head and smile.
But please, please do not let their poison infect you.
To help you to avoid being infected, I’ve come up with a few ways to politely get away from a Poison Teacher.
1. Say, “Did you hear that? I think it was the principal calling me. I’ll be right back.” Don’t come back.
2. Say, “Excuse me I think I have to throw up. I’ll be right back.” Don’t come back.
3. Say, “I think my car is on fire. I’ll be right back.” Don’t come back.
4. Start reciting the 10 Commandments in your head, while nodding. It will keep you focused on something other than what the Poison Teacher is saying to you. If you don’t know the 10 Commandments, you can recite some Lil Wayne lyrics.
5. Make “I think I just lost my hearing” gestures and walk away in a panic.
6. If you’re outside on student drop off duty, pretend you see someone in a parked car, and say, “I need to speak with this parent” and walk to a random car and strike up a conversation with the driver.
7. Say, “What you’re saying is important, and I don’t want to forget it. Let me go get some paper and a pen, and I’ll be right back.” Don’t come back.
8. Say, “No hablo Inglés” and walk away frustrated. Find a native Spanish speaker, and learn how to say it without an English accent, so you sound convincing.
9. Look at your watch and say, “Oops. Sorry. I’m late for a meeting with the superintendent,” and walk away. Make sure you are wearing a watch.
10. Grab your chest and say, “I think I’m having a heart attack. I’ll be right back.” Don’t come back.
If you want a not-so-subtle way of avoiding a Poison Teacher, say, “I just read a blog post about you. Check it out at SuccessInTheClassroom.com.”
If you know of a new teacher, and you think this post is something they should read, please send them a link back to this page. Here’s the link: http://successintheclassroom.com/10-ways-politely-walk-poison-teachers/
Unfortunately, Poison Teachers can be found in every school. They are bad for students, bad for the school and bad for the teaching profession.
If you’re a new teacher, please don’t let their negative attitude dampen your desire to change the world.
If a school is going to be infected with something, let it be the youthful enthusiasm and love for children that new teachers bring to the classroom.
Until next time, here’s to your Success in the Classroom!
I have just found your website, and am amazed at the wealth of information for teachers in formation. Thanks for your sharing of your experience.
PS I had one teacher who consistently blamed the children. How sad for this person. It was very evident that it wasn’t just the children.
Hi S. Donna, thank you for the comment. It’s easy to place blame on students. Effective teachers adjust their lessons to meet the needs of the students. Thanks again.