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Help with a Co-worker

Co-Worker Issue 


Senior Member
Advice for getting along with a Co-worker

Hey everyone, I just need to vent and get some advice. I hope this isn't going to be too long - I'll try to briefly explain the situation.
I've been teaching kindie for almost 15 years. Last year I moved to a new district and there were two kindergarten classrooms but because of super low enrollment, there was only one class and the other teacher was taking a year off (she planned to come back and they saved her position.) I taught last year by myself. She came back this year and we are both teaching kindergarten. Before she left she had taught kindergarten for 2 years and an upper grade before that.
Now that we are teaching together and we have to plan together, it is really difficult for me because we don't agree on what should be taught. We have standards to follow but we can use whatever methods/materials to reach those standards. Even though I have more experience with this age group, she was at the school before me and she thinks it needs to be done the same way as it was always done (which hasn't been updated in a very long time.) There are many practices that are just outdated and not research-based. My principal just wants me to "try my best" and "see how it goes" concerning our working and planning together.
We teach each others' students during parts of the day. I'm feeling frustrated because when we plan, I feel as though I'm "regressing" in my teaching skills (and being "forced" to teach what she wants) instead of using what I know to be more developmentally appropriate. She uses things (lots of worksheets and a "letter of the week" program) that I used during my first few years as a teacher but since then I've refined to be more of what the kids need. She isn't open to my ideas and when I share with her something that I do and what works for my students, she just says, "I'll stick to what I did in the past." Or, "that's way too hard for the students, I don't think they would get it" Or she just doesn't say anything and changes the subject. Things can get tense and I really don't like working in a tense environment. We do agree on the fact that we both have very different ways to doing things but we haven't made any progress on how to remedy that and make it a less stressful environment. I feel tense all the time and I don't like it :( I'm trying hard not to be the stubborn one and see things her way but I just don't agree with some of her methods. I would like to feel more appreciated and respected and I feel those things are lacking.
Has anyone had a similar experience? What did you do to "fix" it or make it better?
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Senior Member
My biggest reaction is to this:
"I'll stick to what I did in the past."

If she gets to do that, why can't you?

We teach each others' students during parts of the day.

What's this all about? It seems like ending this would fix the planning conflict. Each of you teach your own kids and do your own thing.


Senior Member
Thanks for your response! I would love to stick to what I did! Our principal really wants us to plan together and share students so all the kids get instruction from both teachers during the day. The other grades 1-6 do it this way too. The principal doesn't want parents thinking that a student in one class is getting more or less than a student in the other class = all things are equal. Yes, we have the same standards so the goals are the same. Things should be equal no matter who's room they are in but my principal doesn't seem to understand that we just don't have the same ideas about how to teach kindergarteners. She still wants the joint planning and the same projects going home, etc. I don't know if I need to "suck it up" because this is my 2nd year at the school but I just can't compromise what I believe is best for the kids - I refuse to do that. I feel stuck because no one is listening to my side of the story.


Senior Member
Hmm...is your evaluation tied to test scores? That's why my school ended the sharing students deal. Maybe that could be your out?

It does sound like you're stuck, though. I guess make the best of it? See if maybe the two of you can come to a plan where each of you gets one "gimme." Also, perhaps your P (since this directive comes from him/her) could sit in on your collaboration meetings?


Senior Member
Yes, I will ask if our p can sit in on a meeting and we can get her thoughts/she can hear ours. It's not an easy place to be but something good should come out of all of this.


Senior Member
I think having the P sit in on one of your meetings is a great idea. Maybe that will either give her a better perspective on what you're dealing with, or she can give you some help on how to better work within those boundaries.

As for the same projects, etc. coming home - I have a big problem with that. We all have our gifts and the things we like to do and they are not the same. My partner has some art projects that she loves to do and I hate, so we each do what works best for us. We have the same theme, but the outcome is different. If all a parent has to complain about is that they got a different project sent home than the other class then they are very lucky! However, if push comes to shove that's where I'd bend if that makes sense.

When it comes to being developmentally appropriate, as long as you are teaching the standards then I wouldn't just suck it up and do what the other teacher is doing. That's where I draw the line and shut my door and do what I know is best for my kids.

What part of the day do you teach each other's students? And for how long? Maybe that's where the projects, etc. get done so that all of the kids bring home the same thing. But the meat of your teaching can be with your own kids and in your own style. I don't know...

What a tough place to be! I'm sorry you are having to deal with that. I have some colleagues who I love but we have VERY different teaching styles. I'd be a horrible teacher if I had to do everything their way!


Full Member

Maybe you can do both/and?

I do letter of the week (well, two), but only for a small part of our phonics program (though it's primarily because I teach ELLs and it gives us a chance to review vocabulary and build letter sound production-otherwise they can't do most letter/picture sort activities).
During the rest of our reading we focus on a variety of letters, handwriting doesn't follow the letter of the week, neither does reading, I always bring it back to the whole alphabet.

Alternatively, could you switch off on subjects? You teach reading/math she teaches science, social studies, etc.

I can sympathize though, I just moved to a new school, and while I am the KG teacher, the old teacher is still there and I am expected to mostly follow what she did, plus she is my mentor and team leader. Even though I have a very different teaching style. I haven't used this many worksheets since my second year teaching!
I am slowly building up our centers and activities to be more hands-on and interactive (and not just "playing" with manipulatives while waiting your turn to do a worksheet), but it's a balancing act to try and accommodate school expectations and my own style.


Senior Member
Wow - I can relate to that - it sounds like my experiences :) My team teacher wants to do so many worksheets and like you said, I haven't used this many in years! I'm incorporating more of what I want to do twice a week when we don't get together. It's slowly working itself out - I'm trying not to stress about it. I think change will happen (for both of us) slowly if we just add in a little here and there/replace "old habits" with more dev. appropriate ones.
Keep me updated :)