Reporting Out of Control Colleagues
In case you’ve been aware of my work, you know that the positions I held in the education field include a K-12 teacher, a university professor, and a school of education dean. In my first position, I wholeheartedly helped pupils achieve their academic ability and tried to transform them into productive citizens. When carrying out the responsibilities of the other positions, my focus was on building the next generation of teachers and people interested in educational administration. However, I decided to step into educational entrepreneurship around two years ago. Since then, I’ve been doing several things, including establishing my education company called Lynch Educational Consulting and managing three web properties: The Tech Eedvocate, The Edvocate, and Edupedia.
But I haven’t been able to forget the classroom environment. When I miss that, I focus my energy on creating a resource, project, or post that’ll add value to the practice of all teachers. Here is a series of case studies, which I recently created to help you understand the real problems in the field. Pre-service teachers will also be able to use the case scenarios to shape their approach.
We see the education community as a family, and hence, it’s our responsibility to safeguard its members. But what are the consequences of a fellow educator becoming out of control, which is impacting their teaching potential, and in turn, their students’? The case study below will help you obtain a clear idea of the consequences of an educator letting an uncontrollable colleague hit their lowest possible point.
The Case Tanika Auala
Tanika Auala teaches science to fourth-graders at the Hazlewood Elementary School in a medium-sized city called South Bend. She has been working closely with Karla Jefferson, a fourth-grade mathematics teacher, for the last five years. Initially, Karla demonstrated high enthusiasm about teaching, but during the last two years, Tanika observed some upsetting changes in her. Around two years back, Karla started gambling as her brother suggested that she may make some additional money from it. While she couldn’t make much, she was spending more time at the casino, neglecting her teaching career.
Initially, Tanika would hide Karla’s wrongdoing. As their subjects were significantly overlapping, she could easily teach some mathematics concepts together with her own lessons to save the students from missing out excessively. However, when Karla hit rock bottom, both financially and personally, Tanika suggested that she get help. Karla also realized her addiction to gambling and its adverse effects on her personal and professional life. She worked hard to get things back on track again. Tanika was very happy to see her colleague recovering and regaining control over her professional life.
However, a few months back, the school provided every teacher with a personal laptop to be used throughout school hours. Tanika observed a sudden, drastic fall in the quality of teaching of Karla. In fact, her students requested Tanika to merge more mathematics concepts with her science lessons. Though Tanika tried to talk to Karla about it immediately, Karla showed evasion and aggression, saying that her students couldn’t question her teaching procedures. Tanika thought it’d be helpful to deal with this after a few days.
One day Tanika was waiting outside the classroom and observed that Karla’s students were behaving like playing a game in the classroom, despite Karla being present at her desk. But Karla was solely focused on her laptop without paying any attention to the children. One moment, her body language showed exasperation, and she uttered a swear word. Some children objected to this and sought an apology from her.
Karla aggressively shouted to the kids that it was already bad enough that she told them to lie to Tanika in exchange for good grades. She also told them to remain quiet so that she could focus on her roulette game. The children got frightened by her tone. By observing this, Karla said that she’d buy them chocolate if they remained quiet. This made the children happy, and they got back to what they were doing.
Considering the story as a whole, Tanika realized that she wouldn’t be able to manage it on her own. She recalled Karla’s aggression during her last attempt to deal with the issue and was concerned that Karla seemed to have the students with her. She knew that she couldn’t cover up for Karla anymore, but she also didn’t know what should be done next. She was also concerned that the school authority might implicate her in the bad performance of Karla’s students because she concealed Karla’s gambling problem from them. Tanika left the classroom without talking to Karla, thinking that she first needed to decide what should be done next.
Now, it’s your turn to think about the following questions thoroughly and modify your practice.
- What’s the biggest barrier in Tanika taking action?
- What should be the first action of Tanika before she makes a strong decision on tackling Karla’s situation?
- What are the ethical issues that Tanika is facing right now? Which seems to be the most important to you, and why?
- What should be the ideal decision of Tanika, keeping her moral responsibility as the education community’s member in mind?