School, of course, is all about teaching and learning. But it's also a workplace with all the joys and aggravations that come with most workplaces that employ lots of people who have to interact with one another on a daily basis. Introducing a new feature in today’s blog – CAREER QUESTIONS.
Q: A colleague of mine who took my under her wing when I first began teaching has lately
been asking me for favors. Can I watch her class so she can make a phone call? Can she
borrow my materials? Can I cover her for bus duty? “Just this once” has turned into
multiple favors, but I feel like if I try to say something, she’ll be hurt. I do feel like I
“owe her one” for helping me adjust, but is it going too far?
A: You do owe her one. Maybe even two. But you are not obligated to play the role of a peep for the rest of your career.
Certainly it was kind of your colleague to help you adjust to your new teaching environment. With so many new protocols to learn along with the daily responsibilities of classroom teaching, those first few years are tough to do alone.
But at this point, she is taking advantage of the relationship and acting like the mother hen. Ask yourself, does she ask anyone else to cover for her or share materials? If you weren’t there, would she just do bus duty herself?
My guess is that other faculty will notice the favors you do for her, and you will not earn their respect by covering your colleague’s duties.
So the next time she asks for a favor “just this once,” you have to say no, explaining that you have another obligation. She’ll eventually get the message. I will be surprised if she is “hurt”; more likely she’ll be annoyed, maybe even a little angry. Prepare for that, but don’t be cowed. She may not like you as much for refusing to cover for her, but she’ll respect you more.