DEAR HARRIETTE: I am an after-school program instructor at a public elementary school. I'm going on leave for a few weeks, and I had to train the substitute that will be taking over for me. I'm super-thankful that she could step in, but I immediately felt like something was off about her. I do not like the way she talks to my kids at all. The kids are very young and don't respond well to an aggressive teaching style such as hers. I feel really guilty about leaving them with someone I don't approve of. I'm not sure what type of say I have in this. Should I speak directly to her, or should I take it to a higher-up? I don't want to cause unnecessary tension. -- After-School Instructor
DEAR AFTER-SCHOOL INSTRUCTOR: Trust your gut. Talk to your replacement first and let her know what methods you believe the students respond to best. Give examples of how you have noticed the children react when they are addressed in different ways. Point out that you think she might soften some of her ways of engaging them to ensure their positive attitude.
Next, go to the administrator of the after-school program or the school and directly outline your concerns. Describe what you have observed about this substitute teacher, the aggressive manner that you have seen her employ and how you have witnessed the students react to this behavior. Point out that you do have to go on leave but are worried about your students’ mental and emotional health. Ask leadership to observe this teacher and take proper action if needed. Let them know that you have spoken to her so that there’s no need for secrecy. The children are your priority. Make it clear that this is why you are speaking up.