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“Oh, I’m Replaceable?”: Teacher Takes Vice Principal At Their Word And Quits During An Education Shortage
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“Oh, I’m Replaceable?”: Teacher Takes Vice Principal At Their Word And Quits During An Education Shortage

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“To run one’s mouth” is considered a bad thing for a reason. Similarly, “to put your foot in your mouth” carries a similar emotion, one which makes us wish real life had an edit button. But in this way, regret can be a powerful lesson for people who really need to learn thinking before speaking.

A paraprofessional shared his perfect opportunity to instantly teach someone a little bit of regret when a pushy Vice Principal told him that he and all his hard-working colleagues were basically “replaceable.” So OP decided to hold him to that and left the job in the middle of an educational shortage. As one can imagine, it didn’t go that well for the school.

Not insulting valuable employees seems like common sense

Image credits: Tima Miroshnichenko (not the actual photo)

But one paraprofessiona ended up quitting the moment a vice principal said he was easily replaceable

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Image credits: Pavel Danilyuk (not the actual photo)

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Image credits: Quen_the_wizard

Decision-makers don’t always have the best grasp of the situation

Despite being in a senior role, this vice principal did not seem to grasp the actual supply and demand for labor in the field they ostensibly operate in. Teaching can be a richly rewarding job, but in many places, it tends to be underpaid. Underfunded areas, poorly maintained classrooms and long hours do not attract that many workers in the long run, hence the education shortage OP mentioned. In contrast, managerial positions, like the vice principal, who doesn’t even have the pressure of being the “big” boss will always find applicants. Similarly, a school without teachers will not function from day one, but a school without a VP will probably manage to keep on going for a while.

Unfortunately, it’s common enough that people in “higher” positions are more clueless than the “workers.” We can see this in OP’s story because the VP manages to make two major mistakes in the span of a few seconds. First and foremost, they seem to be operating under the impression that teachers at this school, or perhaps even the area, are replaceable. Further events showed that this was deeply untrue, something a VP should have already known, seeing as they would still be involved in the hiring and firing process at some level. Then, they went from making a factual mistake to directly insulting an employee. This is just bad form one way or another, there is no disguising it. But insulting a valuable employee is even worse and the VP should have known a lot better.

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Entitlement makes one look bad and make poor decisions

This sort of poor decision-making is surprisingly common in many leadership positions. There are a combination of factors at play. Firstly, humans seem generally bad at assessing risk, independent of cognitive abilities. Perhaps the VP thought they needed to make a powerplay and went for a badly thought-out bluff. Alternatively, they could be a deeply entitled person who doesn’t even understand that they are wrong. Setting aside the issue of having someone like this in a leadership position, entitlement in very small doses can look like confidence. This is actually a useful trait, with measurable benefits to one’s career or academic performance. Issues arise then that confidence is not backed up by any real knowledge, skill, or experience. As we saw earlier, it’s clear that this VP does not actually understand their own field and put the entire organization at risk because they wanted to run their mouth. But one’s loss is another’s gain, so good for OP for making the best of the situation.

OP answered some reader’s questions

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And others share their stories of disrespectful bosses

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davidforce avatar
David Force
Community Member
8 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My wife used to teach Special Ed and was a former Teacher of the Year before becoming a school Principal. She loves her job and she made a big deal about teacher appreciation week and she put a lot of effort into making her staff meeting’s entertaining and fun. Every teacher in the district wanted to work for the Mary Poppins of administrators. She did have high standards but she would work with underperforming staff to help them in a kind and professional way. When she finally retired after 38 years they brought in a top down administrator who had the complete opposite personality. Her first act was to stop paying the paraprofessionals during their 1/2 hour lunch breaks. Within a year approx 1/2 the staff quit or transferred out.

charmhockaday avatar
Charm Hockaday
Community Member
8 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And the lesson here: Don't fix what ain't broke. I applaud your wife for being the example of what a good leader is and does. The new admin should've observed and taken notes upon arrival.

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rbarrattpeacock avatar
RP
Community Member
8 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I knew that teachers in the US were underpaid, but 14K?! That is social security (scaled for exchange rate) in some other countries!

andyfrobig avatar
Andy Frobig
Community Member
8 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Where I live, that's less than half what a full time worker at Burger King or Taco Bell makes

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sonja_6 avatar
Sonja
Community Member
8 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

People who give the 'everyone is replaceable' line want you to forget that while this is true, it's still not desirable to pay a lot of money and risk having to go through several bad fits to replace someone who is perfectly capable and already experienced. Replacing someone is expensive and risky. So just because you can doesn't mean you should. Bullying away good people is definitely not in the best interests of any company. Because they'll easily find work elsewhere. But with modern technology word gets around and the good people will avoid the job, so you'll find out that your behaviour might mean that no, you can't replace them! Even though in theory you could.

alanavoeks_1 avatar
Nykky
Community Member
8 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My ex was constantly being threatened that he'd be fired if he took days off (he had back issues from his brother being an a*****e when they were young). He worked as a cart pusher for Walmart, and even though their store was the only supercenter in their little town, he would always panic over it. I continuously told him that they were fear mongering him. Turns out, a few months after we broke up, he left the place. He was their best worker, every customer loved his down south, home boy politeness, and they are still floundering to find any kind of decent replacement. They begged him to not leave. But that was part of why I left him, he never listened to me

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davidforce avatar
David Force
Community Member
8 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My wife used to teach Special Ed and was a former Teacher of the Year before becoming a school Principal. She loves her job and she made a big deal about teacher appreciation week and she put a lot of effort into making her staff meeting’s entertaining and fun. Every teacher in the district wanted to work for the Mary Poppins of administrators. She did have high standards but she would work with underperforming staff to help them in a kind and professional way. When she finally retired after 38 years they brought in a top down administrator who had the complete opposite personality. Her first act was to stop paying the paraprofessionals during their 1/2 hour lunch breaks. Within a year approx 1/2 the staff quit or transferred out.

charmhockaday avatar
Charm Hockaday
Community Member
8 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And the lesson here: Don't fix what ain't broke. I applaud your wife for being the example of what a good leader is and does. The new admin should've observed and taken notes upon arrival.

Load More Replies...
rbarrattpeacock avatar
RP
Community Member
8 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I knew that teachers in the US were underpaid, but 14K?! That is social security (scaled for exchange rate) in some other countries!

andyfrobig avatar
Andy Frobig
Community Member
8 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Where I live, that's less than half what a full time worker at Burger King or Taco Bell makes

Load More Replies...
sonja_6 avatar
Sonja
Community Member
8 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

People who give the 'everyone is replaceable' line want you to forget that while this is true, it's still not desirable to pay a lot of money and risk having to go through several bad fits to replace someone who is perfectly capable and already experienced. Replacing someone is expensive and risky. So just because you can doesn't mean you should. Bullying away good people is definitely not in the best interests of any company. Because they'll easily find work elsewhere. But with modern technology word gets around and the good people will avoid the job, so you'll find out that your behaviour might mean that no, you can't replace them! Even though in theory you could.

alanavoeks_1 avatar
Nykky
Community Member
8 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My ex was constantly being threatened that he'd be fired if he took days off (he had back issues from his brother being an a*****e when they were young). He worked as a cart pusher for Walmart, and even though their store was the only supercenter in their little town, he would always panic over it. I continuously told him that they were fear mongering him. Turns out, a few months after we broke up, he left the place. He was their best worker, every customer loved his down south, home boy politeness, and they are still floundering to find any kind of decent replacement. They begged him to not leave. But that was part of why I left him, he never listened to me

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
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