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WitchHaus
post Jun 20 2017, 05:10 PM
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Hey x

Long story, that i'll try to cut short. I recently moved into a new school and my TA there is a muslim woman who has since spoke to me quite openly about issues she has. Basically, she asked me on my second day if I was gay (because I reminded her of her gay brother). She assured me that she had absolutely NO issues with it "despite seeming like a strict Muslim in a headscarf" (her words). She spends every lunch time talking to her husband on the phone - she has told me that he is a really angry person and would not accept her working alongside me so she has not told him that it is me taking over the class she is working in. She assures me that it has nothing to do with my sexuality, but with the fact I am a male and he would not allow her to work with a man.

Her son is coming into work for work experience from tomorrow and she has told me that she may have to run out of the classroom if he is around and she will not be able to be in the class fully for interventions etc in case he sees her. She will not be able to talk to me in the staff room or anything. I have been nothing but accepting and have said she can do whatever she wants and I will not talk to her son/tell anyone that she is working with me, but it is really strange and off-putting especially in such an open school where they are so forward thinking (to the point where they allow boys in Reception to wear dresses / categorically stamp out any form of bullying / homophobia / sexism!).

She AGAIN assures me that is not her choice or her beliefs, and I 10000% believe it isn't - it is external pressures from her husband. She is such a dedicated worker and so friendly/funny; she is absolutely LOVELY to me, talks to me about my nights out/antics / sexuality / eyebrows etc. But she is a different person when she mentions her husband and her family. I am point blank not allowed to acknowledge her outside of school or talk to her if I see her - she has categorically said that.

I have not spoke to my headteacher about it.. should I? Or should I just continue biting my tongue because i'll be in a new class in a month anyway. More than anything I feel sorry for HER, but is this a cause for concern more widely too considering it's a primary school and people still have beliefs like this?

Have you ever had similar experiences of discrimination (i'm going to call it that) in your work or know anyone that has? Help would be appreciated xxx


oops tl;dr
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Maurice
post Jun 20 2017, 05:21 PM
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This is tricky situation indeed, If i were in your shoes i would bite my tongue for the month remaining. I feel sorry for her but it shouldn't be you worrying about it.
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Calcified Froot
post Jun 20 2017, 05:23 PM
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That sounds tough, it would be wrong for me to give you advice because I would have no idea. Do you know what her/her family's relation is like with her brother though?
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liamk97
post Jun 20 2017, 05:24 PM
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This sounds painfully complicated; it's like a conflict between doing what you know is right in regards to encouraging people to be free and speak to whoever they choose but, at the same time, not wanting to, however unintentionally, cause problems for this lady. I'm not really sure what to suggest. Maybe it might be an idea to let the headteacher know - even though her relationship with her husband is private/personal, it's getting to the point where it affects her professional life if she would have to leave the room should her son be in the area so, in that case, it kinda is a school issue. I do really feel for her and I feel for you too - I'm only reading what you've said but you're actually experiencing it and will fundamentally have to make the decision. It's tricky, but I know whatever you choose to do will be with the best intentions. See what other people say in here and go with what your gut says.
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Sonia Fowler
post Jun 20 2017, 05:27 PM
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Gah this is a tough dilemma Bal, how is it for her brother? does she mention about what her husband thinks of him?
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SpookE
post Jun 20 2017, 05:29 PM
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I agree with Liam, it wouldn't hurt to bring it up with the Head from a genuinely concerned for her angle. That way you can let them know to keep an eye out for her without feeling like you're intruding or overstepping the mark?
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WitchHaus
post Jun 20 2017, 05:44 PM
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QUOTE(Klaus @ Jun 20 2017, 06:23 PM) *
That sounds tough, it would be wrong for me to give you advice because I would have no idea. Do you know what her/her family's relation is like with her brother though?

His brother now lives in Australia with his partner.. The family were not supportive in the slightest so he moved away, but she still remains in contact with him and when he visits England, she meets up with him. Every other day she mentions something about me that reminds me of her brother - it's quite heartbreaking tbh sad.gif

QUOTE(liamk97 @ Jun 20 2017, 06:24 PM) *
This sounds painfully complicated; it's like a conflict between doing what you know is right in regards to encouraging people to be free and speak to whoever they choose but, at the same time, not wanting to, however unintentionally, cause problems for this lady. I'm not really sure what to suggest. Maybe it might be an idea to let the headteacher know - even though her relationship with her husband is private/personal, it's getting to the point where it affects her professional life if she would have to leave the room should her son be in the area so, in that case, it kinda is a school issue. I do really feel for her and I feel for you too - I'm only reading what you've said but you're actually experiencing it and will fundamentally have to make the decision. It's tricky, but I know whatever you choose to do will be with the best intentions. See what other people say in here and go with what your gut says.

I will respect her decision and not talk to her outside of lesson time in case he spots us - as much as that goes against everything I believe in, I value her happiness and decision more and would not want to compromise that. I may talk to the headteacher in confidence - if only to ensure the TA is paired up with someone she is completely comfortable with next year and not another male (it shouldn't have to be like this in2017 but unfortunately it is </3)! I know she has spoken to the Head before I started at the school explaining her predicament of working with a male, but the headteacher had to overrule it and paired us up regardless due to staffing issues elsewhere.

On a day-to-day basis it's not a major issue. It's just with her son coming into school from tomorrow that it is complicated. Also her husband drops her off at school every day and so I am not allowed to smile at her or acknowledge her at the school gates like I do with literally everyone else.
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liamk97
post Jun 20 2017, 05:56 PM
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QUOTE(HausofSZA @ Jun 20 2017, 06:44 PM) *
I will respect her decision and not talk to her outside of lesson time in case he spots us - as much as that goes against everything I believe in, I value her happiness and decision more and would not want to compromise that. I may talk to the headteacher in confidence - if only to ensure the TA is paired up with someone she is completely comfortable with next year and not another male (it shouldn't have to be like this in2017 but unfortunately it is </3)! I know she has spoken to the Head before I started at the school explaining her predicament of working with a male, but the headteacher had to overrule it and paired us up regardless due to staffing issues elsewhere.

On a day-to-day basis it's not a major issue. It's just with her son coming into school from tomorrow that it is complicated. Also her husband drops her off at school every day and so I am not allowed to smile at her or acknowledge her at the school gates like I do with literally everyone else.

This seems like a pretty good idea. You're absolutely right that this shouldn't be what life is like in 2017 but, as you say, it is a reality and if there's anything that the school can to ease the situation for her, that would be a great help. I think making the headteacher aware of the situation regarding her son coming into the school is a good step and hopefully they can put things in place to help or at least be understanding should she be absent from classes.
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kye
post Jun 20 2017, 08:39 PM
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What is she going to say if her son asks her which teacher she's a TA for? Will she have to lie? Does she have a female teacher that's willing to lie for her or it could unravel pretty quickly?

Personally, I would speak to the headteacher and make them aware of the situation.
Your TA may be completely lovely, sweet and understanding of who you are as a person but she is asking a lot of you. You're going to constantly be on edge and it's an added stress that you don't need.

You're looking at it from the right angle, though. I would make the head aware of the situation again and really drive home your worries about who she is paired with next teaching year.
It's horrible being in a situation like this because you totally feel for her. But, in the end, you have to make sure that you do what's right for you and what's best for the school.
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WitchHaus
post Jun 20 2017, 08:57 PM
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QUOTE(Kye @ Jun 20 2017, 09:39 PM) *
What is she going to say if her son asks her which teacher she's a TA for? Will she have to lie? Does she have a female teacher that's willing to lie for her or it could unravel pretty quickly?

Personally, I would speak to the headteacher and make them aware of the situation.
Your TA may be completely lovely, sweet and understanding of who you are as a person but she is asking a lot of you. You're going to constantly be on edge and it's an added stress that you don't need.

You're looking at it from the right angle, though. I would make the head aware of the situation again and really drive home your worries about who she is paired with next teaching year.
It's horrible being in a situation like this because you totally feel for her. But, in the end, you have to make sure that you do what's right for you and what's best for the school.

She explained that she'd say she works predominately in the year group partner's class (a female) and that she occasionally pulls out children from my class for interventions. The issue she thinks her husband will have is her being in the classroom with me all day, talking to each other and working together, including when children aren't there (as it would just be me and her and he would not allow that).

Most mornings, we spend time in the classroom preparing things for the day ahead - if she's unavailable for these due to these circumstances it will be a big hindrance on the organisation of the class/day and I will have to either get in much earlier or speak up!

I will see how tomorrow goes, with it being day 1 of her son being there, and if it seems like it's not feasible to work effectively I will either talk to her personally or go direct to the head. If I can cope, I will keep quiet about it and ride out the time her son is in. Regardless of how it is though, I will be speaking to the head so she can plan somewhere appropriate for her next year - it's the least I can do!
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WitchHaus
post Jun 21 2017, 07:41 PM
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UPDATE~

She came into my classroom fairly late this morning, after dropping her son off in the class he's in. The day went by without the two of them making any contact. At the end of the day I was going through the plan of what we're doing tomorrow and he came looking for her and she PANICKED as did I so I just stopped talking to her mid sentence and turned to my computer. She left without saying anything and then a few minutes later came back and mouthed "see you tomorrow" :')

Was crazy how one can be so scared to be seen to be working with someone else - I won't ever understand it!

So yeah, I can survive with her running away if that's what she needs to do. I'll just carry on as normal ~
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liamk97
post Jun 21 2017, 09:18 PM
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Damn that seems tense. :/ Have you spoken to the head at all?
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WitchHaus
post Jun 21 2017, 09:33 PM
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QUOTE(liamk97 @ Jun 21 2017, 10:18 PM) *
Damn that seems tense. :/ Have you spoken to the head at all?

Not yet, I wanted to see how it was with her son here. I will though, i've promised myself that!
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liamk97
post Jun 21 2017, 09:37 PM
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That's fair, not trying to pressure or anything, just curious! Sounds like a tense near-miss but I hope that's the worst it gets. At least you know how to handle the situation should it happen again.
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WitchHaus
post Jun 23 2017, 04:12 PM
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BIG UPDATE

I spoke to the head argh. She reassured me that she is fully aware of the situation and that she has spoken to the TA on multiple times and is working on building up her self-confidence to put her foot down and not be so controlled by her husband. She suggested I ask the TA that if it would be easier, we could arrange a swap for the two weeks while her son is in to avoid any uncomfortable situations. I asked the TA after and she said she wouldn't want to put anyone out of sync or to make an even bigger deal out of the situation so said she'd stay and continue as we have for this week. The head has reassured me that the TA will be with a female next year but has categorically said that she disagrees that this has to be the case, but at the same time she has to take her staff's wishes on hand and keep them happy.

The TA also said that when she goes to her SON'S parent's evening - she is not allowed to look at his teacher in the eye and has to keep her head bowed... It's a world I have no clue about and will never understand sad.gif

The end result of the meeting was a focus on how we can help and support the TA to be stronger and more independent. It probably won't happen because she's been with him for 20 years but we (as a school - or at least the people that work with her) are going to try and support where possible.

SO YES a positive day and hopefully we can move forward and help where possible. The headteacher is so reasonable and understanding and i'm so glad that if this has to happen it is happening in such a forward thinking/modern/accepting school <3
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kye
post Jun 23 2017, 04:16 PM
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I think that's so great that the head has taken it all in to account and will place her with a female next year.

Does the TA want to confront/leave her husband etc?
Like, I understand that she feels she has to act a certain way because of her husbands wishes but has she ever said that she would do anything 'drastic' to get away from it?
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WitchHaus
post Jun 23 2017, 04:33 PM
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QUOTE(Kye @ Jun 23 2017, 05:16 PM) *
I think that's so great that the head has taken it all in to account and will place her with a female next year.

Does the TA want to confront/leave her husband etc?
Like, I understand that she feels she has to act a certain way because of her husbands wishes but has she ever said that she would do anything 'drastic' to get away from it?

I said to her after school today about putting her foot down with her husband and letting him know that you work in a school with a whole range of people and he has to accept that... She said "it's been 20 years, it's too difficult to change now" which broke my heart a bit sad.gif We can make small steps, maybe build her confidence around him a little but i'm doubtful how much impact it will really have. Even if she stops having to be on the phone with him during her entire lunchbreak - that would be a big step!

She has kids with him ages up to 18 years old and has had a really horrible life before him.. It's a horrible web and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Who knows maybe one day she will see sense and leave him, perhaps when her children are all able to support themselves, but right now all we can do is make sure she has a laugh at school and a bit of freedom!
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Lorderella
post Jun 23 2017, 04:40 PM
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Yeah I would never understand that world either. It's still freaking England. You can believe something and abide by whatever you feel like abiding but not if that goes completely against everyone else's way of life in the society you live in. I'm obviously talking about the husband here. If TA is scared then hopefully she can realise that no one can make her do anything in that country regardless of religion or marital status.
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