my boss won’t let me use any of my vacation time, uncomfortable with the way my friend talks about her students, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss won’t let me use any of my vacation time

One of the benefits of my job is the ability to accrue paid time off for vacation. However, I seem to be in a position where any time I request time off I am denied by my manager. On the other hand, my manager takes vacation time off all the time. Am I missing something here? I have a family who I would love to take vacation time with, but I am cut off any time I try. At the same time, my days off have accumulated to almost one month and I am just at a loss of how someone in good conscience would not even consider allowing me. How do I approach this situation?

Say this: “I get X days of vacation each year as part of my benefits package, and it’s important to me to be able to take it. You haven’t approved my most recent vacation requests. Can we talk about what dates do work for me to take vacation time, so that I can schedule it?”

You can also try this: “I need to schedule a week away with my family in the next two months. Is there a time period that’s best, or any weeks that won’t work?”

If you get a flat “no, you can’t take vacation,” say this: “Are you saying I’m not able to use the vacation time I earn at all? Can you help me understand why?”

And then strongly consider whether you want to continue working somewhere that in practice gives you zero vacation days.

2. I’m uncomfortable with the way my friend talks about her students

My best friend and I met in college when we were getting our teaching degrees. I work at a private day-care center. My best friend is a teacher at the local high school. As far as she tells me, she’s very popular with her students and does a good job. However, the way she speaks about her students when we are meeting to catch up concerns me. Occasionally when she’s relaying a story about advice (often about relationships and career choices) “a friend” gave her, she slips up and reveals to me that her “friend” is really one of her students. She also talks openly about playing favorites with her students and how she can’t wait for my daughter to get to high school age so that she can be her “teacher’s pet” for four years. I worry that she is actually not a great teacher at all, but that she abuses her position of power over the students, picks favorites, and crosses professional and personal boundaries in what she speaks to them about.

I have tried to tell her that she should make a stronger effort to keep better boundaries with her students, but she brushes it off and tells me that this is “the direction education is heading.” My daughter will be high school aged in two years, and I’m dreading sending her to this school now. I feel like calling the school administration to voice my concerns is going too far as I am not currently enrolling a student there. Is there anything I can do?

Since she’s your best friend, why not be direct with her about how you’re feeling? You could say something like this: “I’m not a teacher and so don’t have the same perspective as you, but I have to be honest with you — hearing this kind of thing is really unsettling to me. I would have been so uncomfortable as a student to know that my teacher had favorites or wanted me to give them relationship or career advice, and it makes me uncomfortable as a parent now.” If she brushes you off again, you could say, “I understand that we have different takes on this, but it really makes me uncomfortable to hear.”

If she continues pushing this kind of conversation on you after you’ve cleared toward her that you’re not comfortable with it, it might be time to reexamine the closeness of the friendship. A good friend will respect a stance like this even if she sees it differently.

(I’m giving the friendship perspective here though. I’d love to hear from teachers on the professional elements of this.)

3. Limiting emotional venting from coaching clients during initial intake sessions

I’m a coach, and my clients often have stressful lives. I would like to know how to keep conversations, mainly during the first call that we use to ascertain whether an appointment with me would benefit them, from becoming a “dump session” with them laying out all of their problems. On one hand, I do get information to be able to help them better. On the other hand, my goal is to get them in for a one-on-one session, so we can actually work to get their lives more manageable and joyful. I don’t have time to listen to all of their problems at this stage, and the techniques I use do not require that I hear all of this information.

What is a professional way to say “please stop dumping (emotionally) on me”? I understand a bit of venting is allowable, but I can truthfully only handle so much, and the idea is that we use effective processes together so that their subconscious thoughts change. This actually changes the experiences they attract for the better. So, they won’t feel the need to “dump” as much on people, because their lives improve. Still, this can take more than one session.

Well, it may be that some of this is part and parcel of the line of work you’re in.

But you can probably cut down on some of it if you lay out clear guidelines for that initial call ahead of time (probably via email before the call takes place): how long you’ve allotted for the call, what topics you’ll cover, and what is and isn’t most useful to cover. You could even say something like, “Because this is an initial intake call, I ask that we focus on X and Y rather than Z, in order to most effectively figure out if we’re the right match for each other.”

You should probably also be prepared to redirect the conversation if you see it start going down a venting road. For example, you might say, “That does sound frustrating. For this call, it would be most helpful for me to understand (topic you want them to focus on).”

But again, with this line of work, I think some of this is probably unavoidable.

4. Raise for internal promotion is less than others with the same title are making

This is happening to a former colleague of mine, and I am really curious what you think. This friend is a marketing coordinator at a large, private company. When a colleague was promoted to marketing manager of a different business unit within the company, he asked her to transfer to his team, with a promotion to senior coordinator. Both this new manager and her current manager report to the same director.

She agreed to make the move on certain conditions (that they move her quickly and completely, so she’s not doing two jobs for a long period of time). She knew the move would upset her former manager, who is very sensitive. Also, I think both her current manager and her prospective new manager have rubbed their director the wrong way in recent months (a point I don’t think she’s putting enough stock into). I think regardless of her own actions, she’s being painted with their brushes.

She asked for the same salary she believed other senior coordinators were making, but which represented a huge raise from where she was (specifically, her ask was for a 56% increase! This begs another question of salary disparity…),.

She went through the formal interview process and was offered a position via HR. They offered her 20% more than her current salary, but 25% less than other senior coordinators make at the firm (confirmed). She asked for more and they adjusted their offer within a week to a 30% raise for her but 18% less than other senior coordinators were making.

She feels slighted and doesn’t know what to do. On the one hand, playing hardball with her existing managers and directors seems like a bad idea. She has to work with these people. Also, she has no leverage – they know her current salary and title and they currently employ her. On the other, she is right to ask for the same salary as others at the firm are making for the same job. What should she do?

She can ask them to help her understand why her work will be worth less than the other people with the same job title. Who knows, maybe they’ll actually have an explanation that makes sense — different responsibilities despite the same title, more experience, tougher clients, or something else. Beyond that, though, there’s not really much else she can do (unless she can point to a pattern based on sex, race, or other illegal factor). Lots of companies have policies that you can only increase your salary by X% when moving internally; it’s a bad policy, but if they’re wed to it, she’d need to decide if she wants the job for that salary or not.

5. Letting my internship know that I need to start looking for full-time work

I graduated from college in June and have been doing a paid internship since graduation. They love me there, have asked me to extend my internship, and have offered to give me more hours. I’m super productive, super helpful, etc.

However, I know that there is no opportunity at this company. It’s very small and competitive to get in, and someone just got hired at the level I would have (she was hired before I even became an intern, but just started recently).

Unfortunately, I’m at the point where I need a full-time job. The internship (and the other one I work at as well) just aren’t cutting it. What’s the best way to let them know I reaaally want a job there, but can’t work as an intern anymore at this time? I also don’t want to quit, get a new job and then find out there’s suddenly an opening!

Be straightforward: “I’m at the point where I need to look for full-time work. I’d love to work here if there’s any chance of that. If not, I need to talk with you about what makes sense for an ending date.”

(Or, if you’re willing to stay there until you have a new job lined up, you don’t necessarily need to set an ending date; you could just let them know that you’re looking and will give notice once you have a new job, which is a pretty normal thing to do during an internship if you want to.)

{ 315 comments… read them below }

  1. Lillie Lane

    It sounds like OP #2 is indeed a teacher, so maybe she should use language more like “My students are not as old as yours, but this sounds like you are crossing the teacher-student boundary of propriety.”

    I’m not a teacher, but it sounds inappropriate.

    1. Lillie Lane

      And it’s also weird that the teacher is getting career and relationship advice from the students?!?

      1. MK

        I think that’s what she means when she says that’s “the direction education is heading”; there seems to be a school of thought that says teachers and parents should try to be “friends” withthe kids. Sounds like a nightmare to me.

        1. Sara

          If you were to ask me to summarize “the direction education is heading,” probably the last response I would give is “towards a situation where we are BFFs with our students.” This is the (adult, teacher) friend justifying her unprofessional choices.

            1. Doodle

              Agreed. While teachers are expected to be sounding boards *for their students,* I can’t imagine the advice regularly going the other way. I have a number of *former* students who I’ve kept in touch with and years and years later am happy to call friends, but I can’t imagine this occurring while a student was in high school.

              Friendly, yes. Caring, yes. “Friends”? No. A friendship implies a level of similar standing that just can’t be the case between teachers and their students. It’s the same reason that the CEO shouldn’t be close personal friends with his/her direct reports — there’s a level of status difference that makes it inappropriate and potentially coercive.

              I agree with the advice not to contact the administration at this point, but I would continue to watch this — teachers who have no sense of boundaries can be more than unprofessional, they can be dangerous.

              In regards to your own kid, I would wait until the spring before she enters high school and then make the request for a different teacher. I agree with the other posters than even schools that don’t traditionally honor teacher requests will be willing to take a kid out of a class where her mom is the teacher’s best friend.

              I would be up front with your friend, also — “Actually, I think we’re going to have Lavinia put in a different class — it wouldn’t be fair to the other kids for her to be in your class, and as she gets older, I want her to get to develop independent relationships with her teachers that aren’t based on her mom’s friendships.”

              1. Kyrielle

                Agreed, but depending on the size of the school, it may not be possible. The school I went to had one teacher who did all freshman English, one teacher who did all sophomore English, etc. (Sometimes the same teacher for 2 years of a subject, as the school was small and a single grade of a single topic wasn’t a full-time job. One teacher for any year of Spanish…though that could be dodged by taking French, but what if you wanted to take Spanish?)

                1. bkanon

                  Same at my school. When I attended, my senior class was sixty people, and a quarter of those went to the vocational school. It was one teacher per subject, no chance of getting a different one unless you moved to another town and went to their school.

                2. Anna

                  My graduating class was 32 students. We had one teacher who taught all 9th grade English, one who taught all 10th grade English, etc. My sophomore English teacher was the mother of one of my close friends in high school. We still didn’t have that kind of relationship with our teachers.

                3. Kyrielle

                  Anna – agreed. I’m just thinking that if it’s such a small school, the OP may have trouble keeping their kid out of their friend’s class – unfortunate but something to keep in mind. (Since OP’s friend doesn’t seem to have the professional boundaries they should.) I agree that in normal situations, ending up with a friend of parents as a teacher shouldn’t be an issue or result in favoritism – but in this case it seems like it will, and the question is whether or not another teacher is available for any relevant subject(s) so that OP can avoid having her daughter in that person’s class.

                4. OfficePrincess

                  I had 52 in my graduating class, so there was no choice in teachers, but it’s not the norm, so it’s worth it for OP to try. Incidentally, thanks to some retirements and teaching assignment shuffling, I had the same English teacher 5 times between grades 6-12 and we were also distantly related. It’s a good thing we got along.

          1. Sunflower

            I totally agree that it’s inappropriate but I have seen it a lot. I have lots of teacher friends and one of them for sure is wildly inappropriate. She is a kindergarten teacher and the majority of her students parents are around her age. She is constantly spending time with both the parents and the kids outside of school, going to their sporting events and birthday parties. She has gone out drinking with some of the parents. The parents seem to really enjoy her being around but I think it’s totally wrong and multiple people have warned her she could lose her job over it. I think she has some issues relating to people her age.

            On the flip side of this, I have a friend (Special Ed Teacher) who changed districts a while back. One of her students who is autistic called her everyday for 6 months after she left and always wanted to hang out with her. I know a couple times she did go see him. His parents had her cell number(I guess for emergencies?) and they would let him call her! I was just totally baffled by both how the parents proceeded to let him call her and how she continued to answer the phone.

            So I don’t know. Given this is all young children, not teenagers who are giving advice to their teachers. It could be either the parents or the teachers who are responsible for this stuff happening. All I know is growing up the only place I saw my teachers was in school. And if I ran into them at the grocery store it was HELLA WEIRD realizing that your teachers existed outside of school

            1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

              Is it really *wildly inappropriate* to be friends with your students’ *parents*?

              I really get why it’s not cool to be friends with your students (including going to their birthday parties and sporting events), but I don’t see what impact *adult* friendships outside of school would have. Perhaps my response is colored by the fact that I grew up in a smaller town, and there was a smaller pool of people available for socializing, but I know that lots of teachers were friendly with parents of students. It certainly doesn’t seem like something that would endanger one’s job to me. Maybe I’m missing something, though.

              1. Charlotte Collins

                I lived in an area where the school district was very big. Most teachers I knew lived in a different area from where they taught, partly to avoid having to negotiate the combined personal/professional relationships that they and their kids would find themselves in if they had taught in the schools their kids and their neighbors’ kids attended. Unfortunately, not everyone has that luxury, and some teachers have to socialize with their students’ parents, because those are their neighbors.

              2. Sunflower

                She teaches in a very wealthy suburb of a major city (top 5 most populated in the country) at one of the top public school districts in the country. Her district actually has a policy that essentially says she can not spend time outside of school with children unless it’s a large gathering- birthday parties are really iffy territory. It seems like maybe in smaller town things are very different. I should have clarified that going to school sporting events is totally normal but many kids play on club teams during the weekend and she attends them. Sometimes there are only 1 or 2 of her students on the team.

                I should also note that while in some parts of the country, it’s very difficult to find teachers, it’s the complete opposite case here. Unless you want to teach in an inner city school, teaching positions and contracts are really tough to come by and many people have to sub for a few years before they get any kind of semi-perm position. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from teachers it’s that parents are crazy when it comes to their kids. All it takes it one misstep or to piss one parent off and you’re in hot water esp if the parents are rich or of high status in the community. A different friend is in the middle of a lawsuit from one of her parents over something like ‘failure to adequately support my child’s learning’. So if you’re going out drinking with parents of students, you need to be careful.

                So yeah it seems like this varies by region.

              3. Elizabeth the Ginger

                It *can* be inappropriate, so you have to be careful. I think it’s fine for a teacher to go to parent gatherings that everyone’s invited to, and it’s of course reasonable to continue an existing friendship (though that can take a little intentionality, too), but to forge new social relationships with parents while teaching their kids – seems full of landmines. Too much possibility for accusations of playing favorites, or even actual biases.

                Imagine that Sophie and Olivia are both in my class this year. I hit it off with Sophie’s mom at Back To School Night and soon we’re getting together for drinks every other week. Then Olivia and Sophie are caught cheating on the math test together. Both sets of parents think their kid is the victim and the other kid is to blame for starting it. This in itself is a tricky situation – but now add in that Olivia’s dad thinks that I’m unfairly taking Sophie’s side because I’m friends with her mom, and meanwhile Sophie’s mom is angry because I’m not putting all the blame on Olivia. My friendship has just made it lots harder to do my job.

                If I felt a connection to a parent of a student, I’d be friendly, but not too much – and after their kids moved on out of my teaching level, then I might ask them to come play tennis with me or whatever. With someone I was already friends with before their kid was in my class, I’d probably talk with them before the school year started just to make it clear that there’s a boundary line between our social friend relationship and our professional parent-teacher relationship. Fortunately for me, so far I’ve only had parent-friends who were other teachers and so understood the balance very well themselves!

              4. Cath in Canada

                My parents are both high school teachers, in a relatively small town where a lot of the teachers from different schools know each other. My mum used to teach at the high school I went to, but found a new job a year before I went to high school (she’d been taught by her own dad for five years and hated it, and didn’t want to put my sister and me through the same thing). However, both parents were friends with several of my teachers.

                It really wasn’t fun for me at all.

                My first week of high school, about 80% of teachers I met said “oh, you’re Ann’s daughter!” in front of the whole class, thus marking me as a target for the bullies who haunted me for the full seven years I went to that school. My teachers would come to the frequent parties and BBQs my parents hosted; before I was old enough to be left at home by myself, I got dragged out to my teachers’ houses for their parties, including one NYE that I will never forget due to six of my teachers getting hammered in front of me and two of them hooking up with each other. UGH! Not. Fun. I’m all for separating the two whenever possible!

            2. AnotherFed

              I agree it’s weird to go to kids’ non-school birthday parties unless the teacher is a close friend of the family, but I think in smaller towns this isn’t that out of the ordinary. Where I grew up, I only avoided having my grandmother as a teacher because she retired the year she would’ve had me (otherwise the school would have had to either swap who taught what grades or just live with her as my teacher, there weren’t other options), and we knew all of the teachers outside of school because they went to the same church, were volunteers with girls scouts and boy scouts, coached rec league sports teams, etc. It was pretty much expected that many of the teachers would show up for big events like important sports games!

              1. Ad Astra

                This constant running into/socializing with students is one reason I’m glad my husband moved to a much larger city and district. I can see the appeal if you grew up in that community and want to remain a part of it, but it always felt very intrusive to us as twentysomething professionals who moved into the area to work.

            3. Anna

              The parents are her peers and while it’s a relationship that should be negotiated carefully, it’s not automatically a no-go. The students, however, are not her peers and are not her friends.

              It’s the OP who teaches young children. The friend is teaching high school students.

            4. Bri

              My sister is a teacher at a school that specializes in Autism and change is extremely hard for a lot of kids on the spectrum. This doesn’t strike me as super weird. However usually when she goes and visits people at home I think she gets paid for “babysitting.”

            5. Jacey

              SpEd is a completely different animal…I still maintain relationships with students and families from student teaching (4yrs ago). It’s really hard to just cut off contact with them, esp. when they really connect with you. And parents sometimes use you as a sounding board about school issues, and its good to have one more person in their corner advocating for their kid.

              However, now that Im in GenEd (I teach K), I prefer to maintain professional boundaries with parents. It makes it easier for them to take me seriously. And most of my parents tend to party quite wildly, so I def. don’t want to socialize. And as you get up there in grades, it’s esp. important. Yes, you can be friendly to them, but You’re not there to be their friend. That’s not your job.

          2. Marian the Librarian

            I’m a teen librarian that works with junior high and high school aged students, and I completely agree with this. OP #2’s friend is way off base when she claims that education is heading in a direction where teachers should be “friends” with students or where teachers should be seeking advice about personal problems (relationships? career?? yikes!!) from their students. In fact, school administrations are much MORE sensitive to boundary-crossing teachers now than they ever have been.

            Teachers trying to be BFFs with students isn’t a “new” problem, though. When I was in high school (about 10-15 years ago) I distinctly remember a few teachers making me really uncomfortable because they would actively seek out friendships with students. ALL of the teachers who were overly friendly also consistently courted the “popular” clique, which also really skeeved me out–it made it seem like these teachers wanted to be a part of the “in crowd.” Students notice when teachers play favorites, and it definitely a) makes them uncomfortable, and b) makes them lose respect for their teacher.

            That’s not to say that educators can’t discuss important things with their students. Some of my regular teen patrons talk to me about heavy topics like religion, dating, politics, and their relationships with friends/family. It’s essential for teens to have an adult that they respect (and that respects them) that they can use as a sounding board, and not everyone has parents or older relatives that can play that role for them. But there’s a difference in being open to talking about those topics neutrally (good) and actively seeking advice about personal issues from teenagers (soooo inappropriate).

            I think OP #2’s friend must be a young teacher who is struggling with earning her students’ respect and thinks being overly personal is the way to do it. My best friend taught high school for a year right out of college (when she was 22), and her age was a huge barrier when it came to her students respecting her. They saw her as a peer and not as an authority figure, and she struggled with feeling the same way–some of her friends were only a year or two older than her students. While my friend’s response was to redouble her efforts to draw appropriate boundaries, I can definitely see a young teacher attempting to relate to her students as peers in a misguided effort to earn her students’ respect. But even though I can understand it, I definitely think it’s wildly inappropriate, and as others have already pointed out, she could face professional consequences for this behavior if it ever gets back to administration.

            Doodle’s script is great–OP should tell her friend she AND her daughter would be uncomfortable with her daughter being the “teacher’s pet,” and that it wouldn’t be fair to the other students, so she is going to request that she be put in a different class. If OP explains that she is best friends with the teacher, administration should honor the switch.

            1. Koko

              Yep. I do think there is a trend in education where teachers are encouraged to be more engaged, warm, and relateable. But all still within the context of being a responsible adult authority figure more comparable to a parent than a friend. So maybe it’s sharing some appropriate personal stories to make a lesson come alive, letting your students know they can come to you with questions, or taking personal interest in students who show great potential or are struggling and helping them get the resources they need to succeed. You’re kind of going for, “Wow, my teacher is so cool and really has his shit together, I’m going to listen to what he says because I want to be that kind of adult when I grow up.” Not, “Wow, I want my teacher to come to our next kegger!”

            2. Myrin

              I’m actually thinking specifically about the daughter here – what if she doesn’t actually like her mother’s teacher friend? Talk about awkward and uncomfortable.

            3. Ad Astra

              ALL of the teachers who were overly friendly also consistently courted the “popular” clique, which also really skeeved me out–it made it seem like these teachers wanted to be a part of the “in crowd.”

              Yuck. I definitely knew some teachers like that in school.

              We also had a school librarian who was openly lesbian and became a wonderful resource both for LGBT students and for students who just didn’t really fit in anywhere else. I know she spent time with some of them outside of school (though often in the context of a Gay-Straight Alliance social event, which she sponsored) and many of them met her partner. But she extended that friendliness equally, and librarians don’t give grades, so it wasn’t problematic in the way that a teacher trying to befriend the popular kids can be problematic.

        1. LBK

          Right? Careers and relationships: two things I would consider high school students wildly unqualified to provide advice on.

          1. Sunflower

            My guess is not that she is looking for real advice but some sort of validation. I’m 26 and struggling through a lot of normal 20something things like being underpaid and navigating the wonderful world of dating. To an 18 year old though, I probably look like I live a glamorous lifestyle. I don’t live with my parents so I can go out when I want and I don’t have things like curfews. There are more guys to chose from than the 100 I see everyday at school(plus they are older and more mature and better looking). I think the national salary avg for starting teachers is around 35k which seemed like a million dollars to me in high school. She is most likely getting some sort of ‘ohhs and ahhs’ from her ‘friends’

        2. AnotherFed

          I was really hoping this was just a typo and the advice was going the other way… I just can’t imagine any sane person thinking high schoolers are good sources of advice on careers and adult relationships!

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger

      I am a teacher, and this is a “Wow.” for me. There are several things here that are inappropriate. First, topics on which it is acceptable to ask your students for advice are limited to things like movie recommendations, not personal life stuff. Second, while every teacher has more of a natural affinity for some students than others, a good teacher pushes up against that and works to find things to like about each student – rather than just acknowledging some as “teacher’s pets”!

      If it were only the comment about being excited to teach the OP’s daughter, I’d be more willing to overlook it as perhaps just a poorly-phrased gesture of friendship – but combined with the other comments I think the friend meant it, unfortunately.

      I don’t know what I’d do in your shoes, OP. I doubt you’d be able to change your friend’s teaching practices by anything you say, as she’s obviously getting reinforcement of these behaviors at school by her students’ responses to her. I would consider distancing myself from her slowly. I agree that contacting the administration right now is excessive, but if your daughter does wind up in her classes in two years, keep an eye on it. At least it is high school – at the most this would be one teacher out of many, not the only teacher your daughter would have for most of the day like in elementary.

      1. AnotherTeacher

        Agreed.

        The OP’s friend sounds young and new to teaching. I’ve never heard a colleague refer to a student as a “friend,” even those who teach adults or have relationships with students outside the classroom (e.g., coaching, service clubs). The designation “student” is part of the boundary. As others have said, it is not at all appropriate to seek personal advice from students. And, while we might have “favorites” in our minds, we cannot “play favorites.” “Popular” can be interpreted in different ways, and it sounds like the OP’s friend is liked but not respected. I doubt her behavior is indicative of the rest of the school.

        If she will be the only teacher available, then go with the advice above. But, if there are other teachers for the grade/subject, seek them out. It’s a reasonable request to keep personal boundaries by not having a friend (or even family member) teach one’s child.

        I actually worry the OP’s friend is going to get herself in real trouble.

        1. anonanonanon

          You know, I’m not really surprised by the “friend” comment. My mum has been teaching for years and awhile back she mentioned that one of the biggest changes she’s seen over the past few years has been new teachers acting like they’re friends with students and even going as far as mentioning it to the students, other teachers, and parents. A friend from college mentioned seeing something similar, too.

          I don’t know if this is a new trend being taught to education students or something that young, new teachers grow out of, but it’s actually not the first time I’ve heard of this particular issue.

          1. Doodle

            I think it’s something people grow out of, though if the OP’s friend has been teaching for years, clearly she hasn’t grown out of it.

            It can be really hard for a 22 years old newly minted teacher to see him/herself in that role — you’ve spent something like 16 years being a student, so it’s easier initially to relate to the students than to see yourself as a teacher. That’s why having older mentor teachers and strong education programs is so important — they’ll help you develop the teacher role that you need to be a professiona;/

            1. RG

              Especially if you teach high school, right? I mean, let’s pretend it’s my first job out of college. 22 year old me is pretty different from 17 year old me, but it’s not that big of an age gap. You might have younger siblings or cousins close in age to the students; similarly, the students may have older siblings and cousins close to your age. I can see that kind of skewing a perspective.

              1. Kyrielle

                And some of the students aren’t so good at seeing the gap, either. I remember having a young (fresh out of college) teacher in high school and a bunch of people wanted to be his friend (I think some of the girls had crushes, honestly, too). But he kept his professional boundaries and was friendLY but not a friend, and never played favorites (that I noticed, and I had a sadly over-attuned sense of unfairness when it related to me at that time, lol). I have a great deal of respect for him for that.

              2. blackcat

                But it’s part of the job!

                I was a (young looking!) 22 year old teacher of 17 year olds. The kids generally had little idea of how old I was (to the point that when one student who I was close with was in disbelief when my actual age came up. I was the same age as his brother. His response: “That can’t be true! You’re an adult and my brother isn’t!”). Being an adult/role model/etc is part of the job description. Keeping appropriate boundaries is much MORE important in the context of a young teacher teaching older high school kids.

                I only once had a student clearly push on the boundary of treating me different because I was young. I told him it was inappropriate, and he said, “Isn’t it good that I think of you like a friend?” I said, “No. I am not your friend and you are not mine. I am your teacher. I care about your well being and will look out for you, but that doesn’t make me your friend.” It was important to shut that attitude down. And again, it only happened to me once, despite the fact that I had very good, close mentoring relationships with quite a few students, several of whom I’m in contact with now. We can be friends now that I’m in my late 20s and they’re in their early 20s, but it was NOT OKAY when I was there teacher. I still can’t bring myself to accept an invitation to get a beer with a group of them though. Coffee or lunch? Yes. A drink? Nope. Maybe when they’re 30 and I’m 35!

                A teacher training program for high school teachers worth anything addresses this directly. You learn about appropriate and inappropriate boundaries, along with stuff like “What does it mean to be a mandated reporter? What qualifies as something you need to report?” I’ll admit plenty of teacher training programs don’t talk about this, but the good ones do.

                1. Doodle

                  Yeah, blackcat, I agree that this is a critical part of the job. I was just saying that it doesn’t surprise me that this is something that a 22 year old needs to work on. It shocks me that someone who has been teaching for years wouldn’t see this as inappropriate.

                  And yes, I have the same “omg alcohol!” response to my former students, even ones who are well into their late 20s.

                2. Koko

                  “I care about your well being and will look out for you, but that doesn’t make me your friend.”

                  +10!

              3. Jesse

                Yeah, when I was in high school, we had a student teacher who was wildly inappropriate, and now I get it — he was barely out of his teens himself, so of course 18-year-old students seemed like they should be his friends!

                1. blackcat

                  Based on what you said, it sounds like you didn’t get it *back then.*

                  I think young teachers underestimate how clear the line is from the student perspective. For 99% of them, you are a Teacher, and therefore an Adult, no matter how young you are. Act like an adult, and the vast majority of students won’t treat you much differently than older faculty.

                  I always did get more students coming to me with personal problems than many of my coworkers, and I do think this is a function of age. Generally, it was always stuff I was happy to talk about–sure I learned a bit more than I wanted to about my students personal lives, but I was happy that they felt like I was an adult that they could go to when they needed help. Those students were coming to me not because they viewed me as a friend, but they viewed me as a trusted adult who would tell them what to do if they thought they had an STD (get your butt to Planned Parenthood! Here is their nearest location. Or feign some other illness to get your parents to take you to your regular doctor. And now let’s talk about how to approach uncomfortable conversations with your parents, because lying to your parents is suboptimal.).

                  It’s 100% possible to have those conversations with kids without ever given off the “friend” vibe. In fact, I think it made kids MORE likely to come to me with problems, because I gave off the “non-judgmental competent adult who still remembers being a teen and making teenage mistakes” vibe.

                2. Java Jones

                  We had a similar situation with a student teacher. I was 18, and my boyfriend at the time was actually older than this student teacher, so it was a weird thing. I was regularly hanging out with people his age and older, and so were a significant amount of the other students. Probably 1/3 of us were over 18. Luckily, administration had put the student teacher with one of the most experienced department leaders so that balanced things out a little. Except when I ran into the student teacher a year or two after graduation and he hit on me.

              4. Chinook

                “Especially if you teach high school, right?… You might have younger siblings or cousins close in age to the students; similarly, the students may have older siblings and cousins close to your age. I can see that kind of skewing a perspective.”

                It does skew your perspective but it just means you have to work hard to counter it. I remember having a discussion with a student who was 19 (he had to prove to me that he legally didn’t have to have his parent report his absence which then led to a lecture on how are we suppose to know he wasn’t dead in a ditch somewhere, so still call in even if you are just skipping). Even with 4 years university and 2 overseas, I was still only 4 years older than him and had to fight hard not to flirt with him. Another time, in another town, I went up to a student in a bar who was flirting with a guy I had dated the week before and flat out asked her age (she had just turned 18). I let it be known to a group of under age students who were talking about weekend plans that, if I saw them at a bar, I was legally required to report them to the bartender and then “let it slip” which bars they should not go to.

                High school teachers have to learn to counter balance the fact that you are in the same age group as your students for a point in time (luckily you eventually outgrow it). I mean, I once had a student, my younger sister’s best friend, ask if I was going skiing that weekend and if he was going to tag along. I said sure and then we both looked at each other in shock as we realized we had permeated the barrier between teacher and student and the chose to ignore what happened otherwise it would have been awkward. But, if he was a different type of person, he could so have used his relationship against me.

                As a point of reference, DH and I did the math and, if I had been at his school, I was old enough to have taught him from grade 9 onward. In order to establish mental boundaries, I refused to go out with him unless he told me his age (which was 21 when I was most definitely not) which he was coy about. It wasn’t until we got the marriage license that I found out that he had turned 21 the week before we met, allowing him to squeak in. Both of us are quite happy we didn’t meet when he was younger because eewww!!

              5. Ad Astra

                This is why many teachers who are certified to teach secondary school (typically grades 6-12) find themselves starting off at the middle school level rather than high school. It depends on the district’s needs and the applicants available, of course, but many districts prefer more experienced teachers for high school positions. In competitive subject areas like social studies and music, I don’t know a single person whose first job out of college was at a high school.

                1. Marian the Librarian

                  This. I did my undergrad in Music Ed., and only ONE of my classmates got a high school music teaching job directly out of college, and the rest that wanted to teach in secondary schools started out in junior high. The girl that started out teaching high school was known for being way more mature than any of her classmates, and also for being an excellent student and teacher. She was married by the time she graduated, and even though she initially got mistaken for a student a lot (because she’s short and has a baby face), she had a natural authority that nipped it in the bud really fast. She actually had to battle an initial first impression of being “too strict” because of her RBF! ;)

            2. T3k

              Yeah, I’ve noticed a lot of young teachers I’ve had tend to act differently with students versus the older teachers. They just need to learn to find that right balance between being friendly and being too friendly (and learn sometimes they’ll look like the bad guy and be ok with that).

        2. Stranger than fiction

          Yeah, I’m worried this is going to evolve into her being attracted to some students (male or female), who are minors! She clearly has some sort of void in her life she’s trying to fill, sadly. Plus, I have to say, people that can’t let go of their high school days really bother me.

      2. Sara

        Also a teacher, just for the record. I agree that calling the administration at this stage isn’t the right move. Look at it this way: I have acquaintances in other fields who brag on their unprofessionalism: they speak poorly about their clients, they claim to take excessively long lunches, they talk about all of the non-work things they do while on the clock (watching YouTube videos, doing schoolwork, looking for other jobs, etc.), and so forth. I don’t call their bosses to reveal any of this information, because (a) I only have the employee’s words to go on, and for all I know that’s not the whole story, and (b) I don’t think that a call complaining about an employee’s unprofessionalism from someone who has no professional affiliation with that individual is likely to be given much weight. For better or for worse, I think most bosses in most fields (including principals) are more likely to judge an employee’s performance and professionalism based on the evidence they’ve actually seen, rather than on phone calls from strangers.

        I think OP2 should try to find out what options she has to keep her child out of this teacher’s class, if any. (Some districts allow teacher requests, and some don’t.) As others mentioned, friendship between a teacher and a parent is a very valid reason for that parent’s child to be kept out of that teacher’s class.

        1. T3k

          I agree, she should ask to have another teacher for whatever subject her friend teaches. Only downside is if it’s a small school there may be no way out of it, which is what it sounds like with the friend saying the daughter would be her favorite for 4 years. Only subjects that I can think of that span all 4 years with (usually) the same teacher are the creative subjects, like band, art, chorus, etc.

        2. Marian the Librarian

          > I agree that calling the administration at this stage isn’t the right move.

          I also agree. If administration thinks OP’s friend is a competent teacher, they’re probably not going to take a complaint from an outsider seriously. But if OP can’t keep her daughter out of her friend’s class and she clearly continues the unprofessional behavior, OP is well within her rights to say something (and she definitely should).

      3. Me

        As someone who was NOT the ‘pet’ (despite being one of the 3-4 gifted students) I can say that this sort of teacher preference is anathema to education. Granted, my experience was in 2d grade, but it literally shaped my behavior at school thru HS. After realizing that the teacher would never call on me no matter what, I simply stopped raising my hand. Forever. Why bother when you’re just draining the blood out of your arm for no reason? All my subsequent teachers told my parents ‘she’s very bright but doesn’t participate in class’ but the damage had been done.

        This woman is an idiot and shouldn’t be teaching. We need real teachers, not ‘buddies’ who give their ‘pets’ preferential treatment.

        1. Not me

          +1. Mine was a very extreme situation that is also tl;dr, but I’ll say that yes, being the scapegoat kid is not good.

          I’ve also had friends who were the only kid of a certain race or background or SES in a class. Teachers tended to single them out for weird treatment or outright ignore them. It sticks with people.

        2. MashaKasha

          +100, as a parent, the comment about playing favorites really stood up to me. One of my sons had a teacher in 7th grade who was like that. Don’t know what happened to her favorites, but what I do know is she failed everybody else. As in, half the class got Ds and Fs in her class for that year. Her favorite MO was to misplace her students’ homework, claim they’d never turned it in, and give them zeroes for missing homework. On a couple occasions, a student managed to get permission to search for homework he or she “hadn’t submitted” and found it in the massive piles of paper she’d kept in her classroom. The parents were terrified that their kids wouldn’t get into advanced classes, and then into honor classes, because of the F they’d received in that class, and that it would affect their entire high school experience. Mine got an F. (He’s majoring in humanities and is on dean’s list in college now, FWIW.) There were mass emails going around and one parent, that was a lawyer by trade, was putting a write-up together to submit to the board. Luckily I’d had an older kid in that school, and told them that there was a workaround – that they could sign an override form and get their son or daughter into an advanced class anyway, even without a teacher’s recommendation. But before I gave them that information, we had 15 or so parents in that class that were horrified for their children’s future and prepared to go to the school board. All because one teacher, at the beginning of the school year, decided she didn’t like their kids’ faces or whatever. This is a ridiculous an unprofessional attitude.

          1. MashaKasha

            Oh, duh. Forgot to mention that it was an English teacher. Hence my “majoring in humanities” comment. It’s not like my kid had genuinely earned an F in that class and I’m a helicopter parent in denial.

          2. T3k

            Oh yeah, the override form. I had a teacher who hated that because the usual thing for us to do (and I may be out of touch, as it’s been some 8 years) was to go to our teacher of the current subject, like social studies if we wanted to take the AP history class, and ask them to sign this sheet saying they thought we could handle the workload. They could say no, but as the teacher put, it’s pointless because if the kid really wanted to take the class they just needed to get the override form.

          3. Anlyn

            My brother had a Trigonometry teacher that hated boys. He had an opportunity to go to an Engineering seminar/camp of sorts–not entirely sure what it was, but it was in Rolla, Missouri–for a week. She ended up changing the assignment and flunked him when he came back and wouldn’t let him make it up. One of the few times my mom raised hell to the school and he was able to complete the new assignment.

            The band director also gave him a bad grade for missing band that week, but no amount of hell-raising was going to matter there–Band Ruled All at that school.

        3. Stranger than fiction

          My 2nd grade teacher tried to get me to be right handed! I mean, really? Like I had some kind handicap because I was left handed.

          1. Chocolate Teapot

            I have heard of left handed royalty being forced to write using their right hands, and apparently this was considered as some kind of handicap.

            1. Sammie

              NOT royalty– but I was made to learn to write with my right hand. In the 70’s I think–they thought it would make the kid’s life easier.

          2. LiveAndLetDie

            My 2nd grade teacher also did this (and this was not “way back in the day,” it was in the early 90s), though my mother intervened on my behalf. The same teacher also criticized me for tying my shoes the “baby” way (bunny ears) and teased me for it in front of the rest of the class — and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who did it bunny-ears then. It was mortifying. Some people just should not be teachers.

                1. LiveAndLetDie

                  There’s the ‘make one loop and circle around it with the other end and then push that through the hoop you just made’ way which I learned after this mortifying experience. I don’t know what to call it, though.

                2. Ad Astra

                  Confusingly, both methods were taught to me with some kind of rabbit analogy. The standard way is something about making one bunny ear and then running around the tree or something? For whatever reason, I struggled with that all through preschool so my babysitter taught me the way with two bunny ears so I could go to kindergarten (there’s a pervasive rumor among 5-year-olds that you can’t go to kindergarten unless you can tie your shoes).

                3. Anlyn

                  My mom tried to teach me to tie my shoes, but I couldn’t figure out the “hole”; I kept trying to put it through the loop I just made, and she was getting frustrated that I couldn’t get it. Finally figured out what I was doing when I accidentally slipped it through the right way.

          3. T3k

            In the mid-90s, when I started school, we had to take these basic tests to show we knew simple things. One of these tasks involved writing. The woman had moved from my left side to my right, so I switched to my left hand so I didn’t bump into her writing (I was ambidextrous). She got all “Nooo, she has to choose a hand!” to my mom, thinking I’d go with right. I went left.

          4. Manders

            I was in elementary school right around the age when this was being phased out. It used to be very common to try to make everyone write with their right hands (because there was a stigma against left-handed people? Because you were more likely to smear the ink with your left hand as you wrote? I’m not sure what the reasoning was behind it). I think the ubiquity of typing has finally ended this practice.

            1. MsM

              My mother to this day blames her “lousy handwriting” on being forced to write right-handed. (It’s actually not that bad, but I understand the annoyance.)

              1. Manders

                Yes, it didn’t end up helping students but for a while it was a common practice.

                I have bad handwriting (it’s partially genetic, apparently–my chickenscratch looks exactly like my dad’s) and this horrified my old-school teacher so badly that she called in a neurologist to check whether I had something wrong with my hand-eye coordination. I’m so glad that typing is the norm now.

              1. JustKatie

                My (formerly lefty) mother was told this as a five year old by the nuns at her Catholic school in the 60s. I can’t imagine how scarring that would be for a small child! On the plus side, she’s now completely ambidextrous!

          5. Chriama

            There are some cultures where the left hand is disfavoured — like my home country, from which I emigrated when I was 3. When I went to daycare, my parents noticed that I was ‘regressing’ (e.g. forgetting the alphabet or how to count) and they realized that it was because the daycare teachers were forcing me to write with my right hand. My parenst are pretty progressive so they put a stop to that pdq, but my dad was actually left handed and he didn’t have parents to advocate for him, so now he’s right-handed. And to this day, my mom gets irritated if I try to take something from her plate using my left hand. It’s weird, but it exists.

            1. Rana

              I think in some of those cultures, it’s at least in part because the left hand traditionally was the one you use to wipe yourself with, after using the toilet. So it made sense, hygienically, to treat that hand as figuratively as well as literally unclean.

      4. Ad Astra

        I’m not a teacher, but I’m married to one, and this doesn’t sound like the kind of relationship he has or wants with his students. It’s flat-out weird and unprofessional.

        The OP’s friend reminds me of a high school teacher I know who says some rather unprofessional things on Twitter. She’s constantly complaining about grading papers (um, that’s how teaching works) and not getting enough time off (uh?), but even she doesn’t go to students for life advice.

    3. Dorth Vader

      That’s exactly what I came here to say. My degree is in Early Education without a teacher certification, but I and my classmates worked just as hard as those who are cert’ed. If I was working in a preschool or group childcare setting, I’d certainly be called a teacher and would correct anyone who did not afford me that respect.

      Pet peeves aside (sorry, Alison, its early!), I totally see why LW2 is concerned about sending her daughter. Lillie Lane’s script is a good place to start. If LW can’t get her friend to see reason, though, I personally would consider contacting someone at the school. The friend is impacting children’s lives, social development, and possibly academic future (if she grades based on favorites). Alternately if you choose not to do that (totally legitimate!), if your daughter gets to the school and has her as a teacher, contact the whoever does course placements and pull her out of that class. You could simply cite the fact that you and Friend are close personal friends and you don’t want that impacting Daughter’s experience. Most reasonable schools will make the switch.

      Whatever you decide to do, good luck!

      1. StarHopper

        I would even go so far as to suggest that OP#2 contact the school in late spring the year before her daughter starts to request a different teacher. Assuming there is more than one teacher for whatever subject she teaches, they should be able to accommodate that, and the vague “prior relationship” excuse would be completely understandable.

        1. LiveAndLetDie

          I agree wholeheartedly. LW has the right to do everything in her power to keep her daughter out of this person’s classroom. Reasonable administration would accommodate the request.

      2. Vin Packer

        Gotta disagree on that first part. You work just as hard on the degree, but being an actual certified teacher in practice over a period of years is very different from working at a day care center; since the OP has a child in junior high, they’re a long way away from college coursework at this point. Both jobs are hard work, but they aren’t the same thing, and I’m pretty sure most HS teachers I know would side eye a day care provider who tried to give them advice as if they were the same.

        None of that has anything to do with the OP’s friend though, who sounds legit super weird.

        1. Mirinotginger

          As a non-traditional student, I have lots of friends who are also college students and have children in late elementary school or early middle school. It’s more common than you might think.

          1. Shannon

            Signed. I am a non-traditional student right now and I see more non-traditional students than I see traditional students.

    4. Erin

      I noticed that too, I assume Alison meant something like, “I’m not a *high school* teacher.” Or, what you said works. :)

    5. NoTurnover

      I work part-time at a small alternative school where part of our mission is to treat students with the same respect and rights as adults–and I STILL think this is weird and reflects immaturity or lack of professionalism. I do consider some of our students friends (which is considered appropriate in our environment), but my experience is that teenagers a) aren’t very interested in offering advice to adults–most of them are much more interested in talking about their lives than in hearing about mine and b) don’t give very good advice when they do give advice. So it sounds to me like she is relying on her students in a way that is certainly strange and probably inappropriate–acting more like another student than an adult leader.

      I wonder how old the friend is. I can see where it might be difficult to maintain professional boundaries when you’re, say, 23 and some of your students are 18. Maybe she’d do better working with younger students where the gap is clearer?

      1. Marian the Librarian

        “Teenagers… aren’t very interested in offering advice to adults–most of them are much more interested in talking about their lives than in hearing about mine.”

        So much this. How much do you want to bet that OP #2’s friend’s students think it’s super bizarre and tiresome that their teacher keeps asking them for advice? Especially “career” advice–how is a teenager supposed to relate to that?

      2. Anna

        I’m in a similar position. I work with young people who are treated as adults (and most of them are the age definition of an adult) but it is always in the back of my mind how much I’m sharing, what subjects not to broach, just basically I don’t want to do anything that would give any of our students the wrong impression.

  2. Al Lo

    #2: My first thought was that she was using “friend” as shorthand, rather than go into the relationship, but my second thought was that “student” is just as straightforward as “friend” — and particularly on re-read, seeing that the OP’s friend refers to advice given to her by her friend(s).

    Before my reading comprehension caught up with me, I saw it as a similar situation to the way I tend to use “friend” for internet-types: telling someone a story from a commenter here or a blogger I follow, for instance. If it’s my husband I’m telling it to, I’ll go into who it is; otherwise, I just boil everyone down to “a friend” (blogger) or “a friend of a friend” (commenter) for simplicity’s sake. Otherwise, it feels a little too “let me relay my dream to you in vivid detail” — the salient point is obscured by the obscure details.

    1. Coach Devie

      Seems odd that she wouldn’t just say “one of my students mentioned…” in this instance. Being a recent or younger grad just out of college, she may be worried that her friend is a bit emotionally immature in working with students who are relatively close in age to her. It’s not too uncommon for this boundary to be crossed, we see it in the news all the time, I’d be worried too, to be honest.

    2. The IT Manager

      Can I just add I am shocked that LW#2 has a child nearing high school because I assumed terrible teacher and her friend must be very recent, young college grads based on the immature, unprofessional actions of terrible teacher. (Yes, I know they don’t have to be the same be the same age, but its a normal assumption for best friends.)

      And actually LW#2 unless your friend is lying to you about her life for some reason, she is a horrible, inappropriate, boundary-crossing, abusive bully of a teacher. And I call BS on the line “this is the way teaching is heading.”

      1. PNW Dan

        I am a teacher at a community college. The idea that any sort of friendship-type relationship with your students is “the way teaching is heading” is horrendously off the mark.

        More constructively, the letter writer should advise her friend to seek mentorship from more experienced and respected teachers in her school.

        1. simonthegrey

          This. I am a community college teacher. Full disclosure: my husband took the very first class I ever taught there; he was 26 and I was 28, and we didn’t start dating until he was out of my class.

          However, I have always been very careful about maintaining student-teacher boundaries. I also work as a writing tutor, and that’s a relationship where it is easy for students to cross boundaries because they are confiding in you about emotional and personal work (writing is fraught for many people!) and most of my students are about my age. I don’t socialize outside of school, I am friendly but not personal with them. It’s a challenge sometimes to keep that boundary in place because many students think we are closer than we are, but it’s worth the time to keep that in place.

      2. some1

        Maybe the LW had her daughter when she was very young and went to college (or back to college) as an adult.

        1. The IT Manager

          Possibly, but my point is I assumed both LW and terrible teacher to be under 25 (the kind of person who’s just barely older than her students) until I got to that part.

          1. The IT Manager

            And a soon to be high school age daughter is probably 13 or 14 years old.

            Just with the lack of info in these letters we have to make some assumptions. I think the immaturity in the letter make the friends seem very young, but there is a hint that she may not be as young as all that.

            1. some1

              I can see making that assumption, but I am sure everyone in the thread can think of examples of teachers or parents they have known who crossed boundaries with teenagers they were in charge of. Off the top of my head, my high school gym teacher got caught on a date with a girl two years behind me (I understand she was a senior but still, ew!) and my classmate who had the “cool mom” bought my classmate and her friends beer when we were in 8th grade.

              1. Gandalf the Nude

                Oh, is this the part of the thread where we tell stories about our horrible, boundary-crossing teachers? Because I had one who showed off her new lower back tattoo in class one day, completely unprompted. Butt crack was seen and never, unfortunately, forgotten. And, to add to the point about that kind of immaturity at any age, this woman was old enough to be my mom and had a child a grade behind me.

                1. Happy Lurker

                  Totally blows my story out of the water…3rd grader came home to tell me that his teacher was in a bad mood (this week) because her boyfriend broke up with her.
                  Tattoo show and tell! Horrible idea!

                2. Happy Lurker

                  Elizabeth West – it probably was. My kids loved iCarly. Darn kids, pulling the wool over mom’s eyes!

                3. Former Diet Coke Addict

                  My high school health teacher told us all in graphic detail about the birth of her daughter. Including fun tidbits about how “stretched open” she was because “dilated” was, I’m guessing, too advanced of a term.

                4. Today's Satan

                  The boys’ guidance counselor in my junior high used to smoke pot with the students. I was never in on any of those sessions, but my brother and several of my friends were. It was the late 70’s/early 80’s.

                5. Larold

                  Oh man, I had quite a few teachers in high school that were huge boundary crossers. I was Facebook friend requested, slapped playfully with a towel, rated on my outfit, and forced to put my finger in a scar/indentation from a halo, all by different teachers. That’s not to mention the one who spent at least a quarter of pre-calc telling us about his personal life, including his therapy appointments and love life.

                6. Book Person

                  A high school teacher once showed a group of her students (keeners like me who ate lunch in her classroom instead of the cafeteria) naked pictures of herself. She called them “portraits,” but, yeah, they were just straight-up naked photos. She also was in a weird, obsessive relationship with this person overseas and spent most of class emailing back and forth said person while we read Shakespeare aloud.

                  Oh, and she took a “student representative” to a teacher’s conference (I know because a parent of mine in a different school district was also at the conference). There were no “student representative” positions. They were sharing a hotel room. The student was 16.

                  She was reported; she was not fired. No idea why not.

                7. Book Person

                  (I realize my examples are more of the “tell stories of teachers with actually criminal behavior” instead of “boundary-crossing” ones, but she was fortunately the only awful teacher I’ve had)

            2. LiveAndLetDie

              Maturity doesn’t necessarily come with advanced age. I’ve read plenty of comments and letters on this blog alone that indicate some people make it through life without ever maturing to the point where we can expect “adult behavior.”

              1. LD

                Great point. I don’t know who said it, but “Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.”

  3. Adam V

    OP #1:

    > strongly consider whether you want to continue working somewhere that in practice gives you zero vacation days

    You really, really don’t want to stay there if this is how things are going to be. Honestly, I half expect that he’s the manipulative type too – when you tell him how important it is for you to be able to take a week off, and he realizes this is seriously bothering you, he’ll probably relent… but he’ll make it seem like he went *so far* out on a limb to get you that week, so that’s all he’ll be able to do for you for a while.

    The company offers it to you; the company owes it to you to find time for you to be able to take it, no matter how crazy it will be during the time you’re gone. And being able to have time off is incredibly important, even if it’s just to hang out at home and watch TV – downtime is essential to refresh and come back to work afterwards rejuvenated.

    1. Coach Devie

      Yeah, that is worrisome! If there is a problem getting it approved, is there anyone higher up the chain this can be brought to? Although this would likely cause problems with a manager who is refusing you time off.

      Definitely might want to look into whether or not you want to stay. Wonder if they will pay out your vacation time if you were to leave? Does it expire / refresh at a certain calendar mark if not used?

    2. Charisma

      I’ve had this manager. He was such a manipulative bleep about it too. I almost believe it was a tactic to drive me to quit, one of many. Every time I put in a request he would come up with an excuse to deny it. I would look at our annual schedule and strategically chose dates that wouldn’t conflict with my project schedule. Which was pretty complex and tight. One time I went into his office to request a date 3 months in advance, he looked at the calendar and decided on the spot that no, I couldn’t have that week off because he wanted to take that week off for himself instead. And I would need to be there to cover for him. I was gone before the end of those 3 months. The only vacation time I was able to take during my entire 1 year under his management were a bereavement and various sick days, and he was a real d*ck to me about the bereavement. I had been with the company for two years prior to him being appointed my manager and I sadly wasted a year thinking I could turn things around.

      OP #1 – For me, the vacation thing was just one of many red flags. There were a myriad of other issues. I would suggest taking a look at your situation as a whole and see if there aren’t any other areas that your manager might be taking advantage of you. In my case reaching out to upper management backfired. They weren’t that great at confrontation or managing themselves. At least I got the time paid out to me in my final pay check :)

    3. Graciosa

      I agree with having the direct conversation first, but this may be one of the situations where HR could be somewhat helpful. Ours would certainly have a talk with the manager and make it clear that preventing any use of vacation time is not acceptable.

      I say “somewhat” helpful because addressing the vacation problem is probably only one aspect of the issue. A manager who behaves like this is not a good manager. I literally cannot remember ever denying a vacation request; on the contrary, I spend a lot more time reminding people to use their vacation and recharge.

      A manager who looks for ways to prevent people from taking vacation – or doesn’t bother to make much of an excuse and just keeps denying it – is fundamentally a jerk. Even if HR fixes the vacation issue, the manager will still be fundamentally a jerk. I would have the conversations and try to get this addressed, but I would still seriously consider whether or not I wanted to work for this person even if vacation were no longer an issue.

      Good luck.

      1. the_scientist

        I also wonder what this company’s policy is with respect to paying out accrued vacation time. OP has accrued nearly a month of vacation- that’s a lot of time, and a big chunk of money. If OP quits to move to a new, better job that actually lets her take her vacation time, the company is going to be on the hook for an entire extra month’s salary if they are required to pay out that time. This boss may be a power-tripping jerkface, but he’ll probably have to answer to someone higher up if his employee leaves and then the company has to spend an extra month’s salary because power-tripping jerkface wouldn’t approve vacation requests. So that could be an alternate angle that OP could use to approach the boss, and also HR.

        1. Adam V

          The key there is “if they are required to pay out that time”. I think only certain states require it (I believe California does), and I know my last job explicitly had it in the employee handbook that they wouldn’t pay out accrued PTO.

            1. nofelix

              Oh, wow that is sneaky!

              If it was up to me, I’d say okay you’re offering ~260 days vacation a year. Subtract what the employee used and pay out the rest.

        2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          I’m in a state where they are not required to pay out vacation/PTO.

          When I first took the job I was blown away by the amount available, but then the on-going accrual made so much more sense when (1) people only use about 1/3 the time they have and (2) there is no lump sum payout when you leave.

        3. snuck

          My concern is similar… there is probably a cap on how many hours can be accrued, and policies on how old these hours can be / how long before you take them.

          If your job is forcing you to so many extra hours that you cannot take the hours reasonably it’s time to bring it up… Look into talking to your manager about your workload, and explain that you are reaching a limit on the number of hours accrued. “Hey Bob, I’ve actually already got about 120 hours owing to me, I’m not sure if I can keep working all this unpaid overtime, and frankly I’m starting to feel a little exhausted. Can you let me know which projects have priority, and which I can pass off onto Sally Jane so that I can get this done without accruing more unpaid time in lieu? And while we are at it, who do I need to talk to get the unpaid time in lieu hours approved to either roll them over, or do I take next month off?”

          1. snuck

            Oh, and instead of asking for permission to take leave, why not frame it similar to:

            “Hey Bob, I am booking leave for the family and I to go away, which of X or Y or Z is more workable for you?” And assume you’ll get permission (don’t book it, but don’t tell Bob that!).

    4. Sam

      I’ve had times when I’ve essentially accrued a ton of vacation because I’ve been so busy that I didn’t see any time to take it, but that was always on me. The only boss who ever made me cancel a vacation (for what turned out to be petty, manipulative reasons) saw me jump departments immediately thereafter (actually, he made me cancel the vacation in the wake of my notice that I was switching departments – thereby confirming my view that he was a petty bully. He claimed he “couldn’t afford” to have me out for two weeks, because I also needed to travel for my new department the following week. He pointedly gave me zero work to do the week he forced me to stay in the office).

      I work a job now that has definite peaks and valleys, and I do my best to schedule vacation when it will be least disruptive, including sitting with my boss and specifically asking when would be the best time in, say, a two month window to take two weeks off (so that it doesn’t conflict with his or other colleagues schedules), but even in my workaholic office, no one would question our entitlement to take PTO time as a general rule.

      I’m also a spinster cat lady, so I don’t have to coordinate with a spouse/children regarding schedules, so I’m super flexible.

      It’s part of your compensation. And it’s also essential for your mental health to take time off. If you work for someone who doesn’t acknowledge that, you need to get out.

      1. Adam V

        > He pointedly gave me zero work to do the week he forced me to stay in the office).

        That’s the sort of thing that would have me going to HR by the second day of that. “[Manager] ordered me to cancel my PTO this week, but he won’t assign me any work to do. It seems clear to me that he is just being vindictive about me leaving his team.”

        Though… I’m not sure exactly what I’d want HR to do about it. Force him to give me work to do? Order him to let me take my PTO after all? Mark down in his record that he’s an ass? I guess any of those would work, if I were switching teams anyway.

        1. voyager1

          OP1. I agree with others but I disagree a little with AAM. I would just flat ask why your requests have been denied. I wouldn’t ask when you can take vacation. I would also seriously consider refreshing your resume.

            1. voyager1

              Maybe, but asking when you can take off is giving a little too much control to this manager, who clearly has no regard for his/her employee.

              1. Colette

                What will you do if you ask why and the answer is “we are too busy”?

                Asking who puts the onus of figuring out what works in the manager.

          1. Happy Lurker

            I am so concerned and upset for OP#1. It is just wrong!
            Please, please be sure to give us an update.

        2. Elizabeth the Ginger

          Mark down in his record that he’s an ass?

          “Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass! but, masters, remember that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass.” – Dogberry, Much Ado About Nothing

            1. bkh

              I guess I’m lucky – I’ve never asked to book vacation. I’ve always looked at the schedule, determined when it was feasible and informed my manager I would be taking vacation from X to Y.

              Never once had push back in 15 years, across 2 careers and 4 companies, and a horde of managers.

            2. zaracat

              Joss Whedon’s version of Much Ado About Nothing is my absolute favourite, with Nathan Fillion in the role of Dogberry

        3. Sam

          Except for the following:

          – law firm. He was not only a partner, but the head of the group I was then in. Everyone knew he was a jerk, but he billed a ton of money, so they let him get away with a lot. Junior associates were essentially fungible resources. He treated everyone like shit so it wasn’t a sexism/racism/other protected class situation.

          Law firms are notoriously bad at managing resources, because there’s very little actual hierarchy or bureaucracy.

          The real kicker? The group he ran was the labor and employment practice.

  4. Steve G

    #3. I have to blindly agree with AAM’s last sentence on this. Even when I was an ESL teacher (a profession where you’re usually in an antiseptic room with an adult person for 2 hours, and they want to hold court), people emotionally and informationally dumped on me. It’s part of the game when you’re in a “soft skill” job. If it helps, I worked about 50% more hours than regular ESL teachers at a higher pay rate when I did that for 3 years, so it wasn’t in naught.

    As per life coaching, I think you will or should learn a lot during their “dumping.” You cant’ expect them to tell you what their real issues are when you meet. I would imagine they will tell you what their “issues” are, then they will continue to talk, and the real issues will come out (i.e. can’t listen, have an inaccurate narrative of themselves, isn’t open to feedback, isn’t used to people challenging their status quo, etc.), and then you deal with both the 1st and 2nd categories of issues.

    IMHE doing ESL there was usually a difference between what they told me they needed, and what they actually needed, usually because they were around “yes men” who did business with them in English but didn’t tell them directly where their flaws were. You need to let people run the show – the lesson, conference call, or whatever – for a little bit of time to uncover such issues though

    1. Steve G

      Of course a “pre-consultation” with me was paid for as a regular lesson, and I am not sure you are being paid for for yours. But I still think the “let them talk and extract what you can” approach is better than the “let me lead and ask the questions and then decide what they need in that moment” approach. Just my opinion.

      1. misspiggy

        Yes. I don’t see why the OP is giving potential clients what seems to be a full unpaid session. Spend ten minutes outlining what you can do and what sort of changes you have helped other clients achieve, and that should be enough.

    2. Snargulfuss

      I’m not exactly sure what the OP means by “emotional dumping” since that’s a pretty broad term, but if I were consulting with a coach I would want that coach to have a full picture. Not that I would have to tell a detailed life story, but if I came in to address issue A, I would also want to mention to the coach that my life is also affected by issues B, C, and D. Perhaps this is where some of the emotional dumping is coming from.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I’m reminded of clients at Exjob who would call to speak to someone about an issue with their order and before I could get a word in edgewise, they would start telling me the entire issue from the very beginning, rather than simply say, “I need to speak with my engineer; we have a problem with the order.” It was more like, “So we got the pallet and it was a wooden pallet and I thought it would be a plastic one, and the truck delivered the order and we couldn’t get the plastic off and then it rained and my supervisor fell in a puddle and he was mad–” I would have to interrupt them to get what I could to transfer them properly.

      2. Stranger than fiction

        Yeah I’m confused why this seems so out of line for someone that’s a life coach it’s kind of close to being a therapist just a different approach

  5. Kat

    What the teacher is doing is inappropriate. Tell her that, as her friend. If it doesnt stop, then go to the principal.
    Just be prepared for her to black ball your child because of it.

    I work in a school and those immature teachers are trainwrecks in other ways and dont last. Its not ok to play favorites. It’s not okay to share situations with them for advice.

    1. Sara

      Do you mean the principal is going to blackball the child, or the teacher is? If it’s the former, I think that’s a bit of a leap to make.

    2. Muriel Heslop

      Yes, please be direct and talk to your friend. My immature colleagues who are so wrapped up in their students’s lives are detrimental to the profession in so many ways. I don’t know that I would go to the prinicipal; you’re a future parent he doesn’t know and it’s hearsay. The school year is about to start and he has more pressing issues, I’m sure.

      But seriously: please talk to her. For all of the kids that have her this year and years to come. If you can get through to her you will be helping everyone. If she doesn’t receive it well, that’s on her. And won’t your decreasing respect affect your relationship with her anyway?

      Please give us an update!

    3. Happy Lurker

      Be prepared that any information given to the administration may not be kept confidential. Which may be worse than OP’s child just enduring teacher for 1 or 2 classes.
      When my children have teachers they do not like I keep telling them that it is building an important skill for life “how to get along with those you do not like AND how to ensure you can survive and thrive with a teacher / boss you don’t like”

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Interesting. Plus, the daughter has the perfect excuse for not divulging personal info to her moms best friend!

  6. Mayor of Shark City

    2. I am a secondary teacher, and I struggle with boundaries too, but ultimately, I understand that my students are not my “friends.” By definition, they can’t be. We spend as much time with our students as most people spend with peers/coworkers, with very little “adult” time. And of course, most good teachers genuinely like kids. But the behavior described by LW 1 is inappropriate. You can’t relate personal problems (such as those that require advice, and really, advice from a high school student??), and you can’t play favorites. That is most certainly NOT where education is heading.

  7. katamia

    OP2: Your friend is not a good teacher. No adult should be getting relationship or career advice from one of their students. That crosses a lot of boundaries. When your daughter gets to the right age, bring your concerns to the administration and try to avoid having her placed in your friend’s class if she’s still teaching there. There’s definitely more of a push to be “friends” with your students than there was before, but this is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY over the line.

    Also, her students don’t like her as much as she thinks they do. It’s like the teacher version of Amy Poehler’s “Cool Mom” from Mean Girls.

    1. katamia

      And by “push to be ‘friends,'” all I mean is that the Stern Authority Figure persona is less common and appears to be less desirable (although it certainly still can work). You’re not supposed to be besties. You’re not supposed to tell students about your personal life. Nothing like that.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger

        Yeah, I’d frame it as a trend toward being amiable with students vs authoritarian (but still authoritative when needed). Appropriate ways for this to manifest itself: teacher tells funny stories about his dog, teacher drops by her students’ volleyball game in the gym after school to cheer them on, teacher asks students for book recommendations.

        1. NoTurnover

          Agreed. Excellent examples of how to be friendly without crossing any boundaries, and it’s immediately clear how different asking for a book recommendation is from asking your students for career and relationship advice (!).

      2. StarHopper

        Totally agree with your clarification. The whole “don’t smile until Christmas” maxim has gone out the window, and it’s okay to be friendly towards students. I like to smile and joke with my own high school students, but I still maintain that student/teacher boundary.

        This teacher in today’s letter sounds like a real piece of work.

        1. I'm a Little Teapot

          Which is a good thing – students deserve to be treated like people, and if my childhood memories are any guide they actually *don’t* respect stern, humorless disciplinarians. They may put on a show to avoid getting in trouble, but conversations behind the teacher’s back will all be about how awful the teacher is, often in a very personal way (how ugly s/he is, salacious rumors about teacher’s personal life or misdeeds, etc.)

      3. blackcat

        I maintained pretty good boundaries with my students, but they did know about my personal life in broad strokes, with some students knowing more than others.

        They knew when I was applying to grad school (this was also good for them to know, since it impacted some of them–I wouldn’t be around the next year). Many of them met my partner either in the community or through the extra curricular activities that I ran (he helped along with a team of parent volunteers). They knew I was getting married when I was engaged–once during lunch a girl I was close to saw me looking at wedding dresses online and offered some excellent fashion advice, that I took! But that’s 100% different than actually asking for RELATIONSHIP advice.

        There is a pretty clear line between “Friendly person with a real life who wants the best for me” and “friend.” I never found it that hard to stay on the right side of that line.

    2. LiveAndLetDie

      It’s like the teacher version of Amy Poehler’s “Cool Mom” from Mean Girls.

      Nearly lost my coffee when I got here. Thanks for the morning laugh!

    3. Shan

      Agreed. The last person who called her students “friends” was a girl I knew from college, Jane. My sister (who is a teacher) and I did not stay friends with Jane after college because she was so unprofessional.

      Jane is high school English teacher. She brags about being BFFs with her students, and even follows/befriends/tags them on Instagram. She hangs out with her students on the weekends, but justifies it by saying the students go to her church and they were already friends. Recently my sister and I saw some photos Jane posted on Facebook from a “Great Gatsby” party she threw for her students at the end of their unit on the book. Not only did she use images and phrases from the movie, including photos of cocktails, but she also made a poster with the phrase “a little party never killed nobody.” Uh, not a great message for high schoolers, and not to mention, it has nothing to do with the book (actually, in the book, a little party DID kill somebody). My sister and I were appalled. I’m honestly surprised she hasn’t been fired.

      1. LiveAndLetDie

        She brags about being BFFs with her students, and even follows/befriends/tags them on Instagram.

        That’s an appalling breach of boundaries. If I had a child with a teacher like this one, I’d be raising hell.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger

          Anybody throwing a “Gatsby party” is kind of missing the point of the book. Though I must admit I have always wanted to be a minor guest at the party that opens Chapter 3. “There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars…”

          1. Polka Dot Bird

            It’s like that quote: “Ain’t no party like a Gatsby party because a Gatsby party don’t stop until two people are dead and everyone is disillusioned with the jazz age as a whole.”

          2. RNPALS

            Even more so because the teacher is throwing the Gatsby party for students she is “friends” with. None of the crowds of guests were friends with Gatsby outside of his extravagant parties. This Gatsby Party could be a metaphor for the relationship between this teacher and her students.

  8. Katie M.

    Re: internship. If the company you work for can’t offer you a current job, it’s great to let your employers know you’re looking, especially if they’re a fan of yours, because your co-workers/supervisors will probably recommend other job openings and contacts in your field– my situation at my last internship was similar and throughout my last couple of months there (I had a set time from the beginning) I talked to my supervisor about my job search pretty often. There was even some talk of them creating a full-time position for me. It didn’t work out for several reasons, but they have asked me to do a couple of freelance jobs. You never know until you have a conversation with them.

    1. notfunny.

      Yes! They might also offer resume/interview advice or have good suggestions about where to look and how to go about conducting a search.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      We had interns every semester and very few openings. So we knew that our seniors would be searching and were glad to help out in any way we could!

      We set-up a regular group to offer resume reviews and interview practice, and were always happy to serve as references!

  9. Observer

    #1, Is your supervisor the boss, or is there someone on top of him, or perhaps HR? This is something you should bring to your boss’ boss or HR.

  10. Kara

    OP #3, you describe yourself as a “coach” without further details. Are you talking “life coach”, “fitness coach”, or something else entirely.

    Any way you cut it the comment of ” I don’t have time to listen to all of their problems at this stage” is a disservice to your clients. If you are coaching them, then hearing their problems and helping them work through them is YOUR JOB.

    Suck it up buttercup.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      But she’s talking about an initial call before they’ve started working together, which she isn’t getting paid for — so it’s not really her job at at this stage. In that context, it’s reasonable to want to figure out how to most effectively get the information that she needs to figure out if she wants to take them on as a client, and to help extract what they’ll need from her in order to decide if they want to start working with her.

      1. teclatwig

        True, but I got the impression that this sort of “dump” is not really welcome at any stage, and makes the OP intensely uncomfortable. I think that may be what people are responding to.

        1. Elizabeth West

          That’s not how I read it–I read it as the dump happens on the initial call, and it shoudn’t be. But changing the way she approaches that initial call can help with that. Or some kind of information along with her contact info–like on her website, or flyers, or wherever clients find her.

      2. Dutch Thunder

        It might also be too much to ask of her potential clients to be able to see their issues clearly enough to be able to give her a concise list of topics they’d like to tackle, hence the dump of information.

        I will say, I hope OP#3 is hiding her ennui at listening to this well, because if I was speaking to a new coach to see if they were a good fit and I got the impression they didn’t want to hear what I was telling them, I’d find a different coach to work with. Those calls aren’t just for the OP to work out whether she wants to work with people, the potential clients are also trying to establish whether they can connect to her as a coach.

        I completely agree with Alison’s advice about providing a clear structure for the call/meeting up front, but I think OP#3 may be expecting a little too much. People are coming to her for help, because they’ve run out of ways to cope on their own. Of course they’re going to vent – they finally feel like they might not have to do it alone. The constructive work will come, but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect to be able to bypass the emotional “here are all of the things that are wrong with my life” stage.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          One of my BFF is a fitness coach and she created an “in-take” form that she sends to new clients. She says only about 1/2 the potential people fill it out, but the majority have at least looked over it and have started thinking about the answers to the questions. It helps them organize their thoughts and fitness goals, and it has made her initial phone calls go a lot smoother.

          1. Elizabeth West

            That’s a great idea. If she has a website, she can upload a PDF and they can print it or download it (it could be the kind you can fill in after you download). At least they can look at it and consider what they want to say.

        2. Jesse

          I’d actually be glad to hear that’s not how the coach wants to work, because I would basically be looking for a work therapist, so would want a fair amount of time for dumping, at least up front. Time that I would pay for, of course!

    2. Credit counselor

      I don’t think I agree. I’m a credit counselor and related to #3’s letter because during intake some clients give me wayyyy too much back story about their situation, or try to talk for 5 minutes about each budget item. In some circumstances, it might be beneficial to know their whole situation… but the reality is there are time constraints and we want to focus on goals, not family drama or whatever the situation may be. I’m guessing that’s the same situation with the coach.

      1. MK

        In certain professions it is hard to avoid a quasi-therapist role. When I was a lawyer, I listened to some novella-length tales of background to the disputes, because the clients wanted to give me the full picture; and it’s dangerous to cut them short, because you never know if some obscure detail that they consider insignificant might not turn out to be important.

        1. CM

          I agree with MK (also a lawyer), but as a life coach I don’t think you need that level of detail at the initial meeting. You could just ask for a brief idea of what the person is looking for — explaining that they should describe in a few sentences what their goals are and what they have in mind, and you can go into more detail at your initial session — and then talk to them about the types of services you can provide. I like the idea of setting a time limit, like 15 minutes. The dumping can happen once they’re paying you.

          1. ceramic

            This^ Put a time limit on the free consultation and when the dumping begins, remind them of that time limit and say, “In order for me to get the info I’ll need in order to help you, we need to focus on…”

      2. LucyVP

        I had a consultation with a lawyer earlier this year and I was so impressed with how he handled the ‘free consultation’.

        I don’t remember his exact words but he found a way to say very nicely but firmly that although it is tempting to just tell him your story he needs to ask very specific questions to get the information he needs, so please just answer his questions factually and then once he has the data he needs we can have a longer conversation about goals. It was super effective.

    3. Sadsack

      I am having trouble thinking of a more overused and less helpful phrase than, “Suck it up, buttercup.”

  11. Margo

    OP #2, If your friend continues to brush off your concerns about her familiarity with students, you might bring this up: she’s teaching her students to think it’s OK for them to cross professional boundaries with an adult authority figure. That’s not good. Aside from being generally unprofessional, it makes her students more vulnerable to adults who would push their boundaries for harmful reasons. To put it bluntly: this kind of familiarity is often how grooming starts. And just because SHE doesn’t use it that way, doesn’t mean no one else will. She could be inadvertently teaching her students to ignore their unease in similar situations.

    I know that probably sounds way over the top and alarmist, and in some ways it is. But what side would you rather err on? Ending enjoyable behavior for alarmist reasons, or continuing unnecessary behavior that might lead to real harm to her students?

    As teachers we need to do what’s best for our students, not what’s best for our egos or our personal need for friendships. She is not her students’ friend; she’s their teacher. This behavior in no way helps her students or makes her teaching more effective. It also undermines her authority and leaves her vulnerable to all the problems that can come from unprofessional behavior with students. Listen to Alison. Your friend needs to stop this and you won’t be doing her any favors if you just ignore it.

    1. YaH

      VERY well-stated. My professional and personal approach to teaching is that I essentially act & speak as if their parents are in the room with us. If I wouldn’t do it in front of their parent then it’s not appropriate.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        Yes. Yes. Yes. Mentally add people into your audience, and see if that changes what you would say.

        1. YaH

          And what you do! I’ve had colleagues who would let their students give them backrubs and would let students sit on their laps. It horrifies me and I go all NONONOcat if I see that. Meanwhile I’m reading “Personal Space Camp” by Julia Cook to the kids and teaching them that everyone has a right to their own personal space, and that you’re allowed to tell even best friends or family members if you don’t feel like being hugged or touched.

    2. Cleopatra Jones

      See when I read the OP’s letter, I felt that the term ‘friend’ that she used for the students was really an euphemism for ‘having an inappropriate emotional or intimate relationship with a student or student’. I admit that I may be wrong but when I was in HS, the teachers who were engaged in inappropriate sexual relationships with students behaved exactly this way.

      1. The IT Manager

        I agree that this is the kind of teacher who ends up on the news because she is dating or having sex with a student. Not that she’s actively trying to groom an underage victim, but she believes incorrectly that they are peers and friends and therefore fair game for her to date not recognizing the power dynamic in play.

      2. Margo

        I agree that it feels sketchy. But I also think that neither the OP nor her teacher friend will react well to a direct accusation like that, making it much easier for the teacher friend to brush it off. I think it’s better to approach it as, “Do you realize this behavior looks exactly like the grooming that predators use to hurt kids? Why would you teach your students that it’s OK? Why does that connection not worry you?” If the friend pushes back, follow up by asking why she is so tied to this behavior when it’s totally unnecessary and potentially harmful. Why is it so necessary?

        To me THAT is the real red flag. Not that she ever did this, but that when someone close to her questions the behavior, she immediately doubles down on it. No discussion, no “huh, I never thought about it that way.” No reflection on her behavior at all. Just a laughing brush off and a clear intention to continue, focused on what it provides for HER. If it’s all totally cool and not a problem, then why is so hard for her to stop?

        The actual behavior is not the worst part. It’s far more disturbing that she seems unable to stop doing it. With the amount of time we spend around kids, we’re going to make occasional mistakes. That’s human. But not being able to recognize your mistakes or even consider you’ve made one? That’s a bad teacher.

    3. LiveAndLetDie

      Not only is it undermining the teacher’s authority and leaving her vulnerable, it’s also indicative of an inability to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Keeping your personal life out of your work is exceedingly important as a teacher (whether or not it’s always fair: just think of the headlines you hear about teachers getting in trouble for photos on their facebook pages in which they’re holding alcoholic drinks, for example). You want to err on the side of caution always. Just the accusation of impropriety with a young student is enough to lose your job over. The teacher in LW2s letter is setting herself up for major problems that could endanger her career. Though to me it sounds like she’s not suited for the profession she’s in, anyway.

  12. Karl Sakas

    #3: (Coaching)

    It’s normal to hear some venting. As a fellow coach, I recognize that my clients often don’t have anyone else to share this with. But I get that you don’t want to spend the whole sales call listening to venting.

    My process is to redirect to the outcomes they want. Coaching is about helping people reach their ideal future. It’s up to you to get the conversation back to that future.

    Consider frontloading things by giving them a reading assignment before that initial sales session. I recommend that people read a couple of my articles (I customize which ones) so we can discuss their reaction to the the frameworks I discuss in the article. That the read the articles also shows how serious they are.

    Also consider renaming these calls. My “intake” calls are for new, under-contract, paying clients. Sales calls are “Q&A calls” to see if there’s a fit and to answer their questions about my approach to coaching.

  13. Sparkly Librarian

    Ooof, #1 sounded all too familiar – my wife worked in a situation just like this. Although she had yearly commitments twice a year (both hobbyist “working vacations”, in different months and not overlapping with major holidays), and requested them as soon as policy allowed because she knew the dates a year in advance, somehow her manager always managed to get those dates off because of seniority and my wife couldn’t take the same days if the manager was out. She worked there for 2 and a half years and never got to visit her family in a different part of the state because she couldn’t take more than a day or two at a time. She ended up giving her notice the second year her request for time off (when she was an event presenter) was denied. Instead of taking a long weekend to make the trip, she worked up until the week before that trip. The company could have retained a valuable and reliable employee if they’d just let her take her darn vacation!

  14. DO NOT TEST IN A POPULATED AREA

    #3: I’m sure there are all kinds of ways to frontload your intake into effective processes that attract a more manageable outcome. Or something. But here’s a pragmatic suggestion that I confess I stole from an old television show[1]: the initial call is, say, 30 minutes? Rig something up so that music starts to play at about 29 minutes into the call[2]. At the beginning of the call, make it clear that when the music plays, it’s time to wrap up. Pick a relatively long piece of music (ie, you don’t want a 3 second flourish of trumpets – you want Beethoven’s 7th Symphony). When the music starts playing, say something like “Well, there’s the music. Should we schedule a session?” Yeah, I’m sure some people will just keep rambling on. But I’m going to assume that if you’re a “coach” that you possess the conversational skills to interrupt someone. And if they won’t stop – do you really want them as a client anyway?

    [1] Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist
    [2] A quick and dirty scheme for this would be to use something like Audacity to assemble an MP3 that begins with 29 minutes of silence.

    1. Jen RO

      Offtopic: Your names always make me feel you’re writing a very complex post-apocalyptic novel.

        1. Jen RO

          Probably not (a few of the nicknames have been song lyrics, and I think the intro to Neuromancer once), but they do kinda have a theme… I know that Alison prefers us to stick to a name, but I’m glad she didn’t enforce it in this case, I love seeing the “nickname of the day”.

  15. LeRainDrop

    LW3, Coaching: Alison’s advice is spot on. My firm hired an executive coach for me a couple years ago. Before we began working together, she emailed me a written set of coaching guidelines that really outlined our relationship, how we would establish and work towards goals, timeline, confidentiality, etc. To LW3’s question, my coach included these provisions:

    — Foundation Setting Meeting – Our initial meeting will include some foundation-setting as well as coaching. I will work with you to design the way in which we want to work together, and we will get clear about your goals and how you want to use the coaching calls.

    — Bottom-lining – In coaching it is best to tell the essence of a point rather than engaging in long, descriptive details of the story. At times I may intrude or interrupt a story you are telling and go to the heart of what you want me to know. When I do, I will be doing this to ensure that you get the most from our time together.

    1. teclatwig

      That last point is very well done. Wouldn’t work well on me (I rarely know the essence of my point until I have circled it several times from many angles), but it’s masterfully explained and sounds like a good approach.

      1. katamia

        LOL. Same, or rather my bottom lines often wind up sounding completely nonsensical without the context because I’ve been in a lot of…odd…situations, and then people need me to backtrack and give them the context anyway.

  16. Apollo Warbucks

    #4 I’ve been in the situation where I was massively under paid compared to my co-worker when we did very similar jobs there were some good reasons for the pay disparity (although the gap was far to large to be fully justified) the role was a learning curve for me and in the beginning I wasn’t as effective as my co-worker, so I wasn’t adding the same value as them, it did piss me off at times but Alison wrote a great article (which I’ll link below) that helped me re-frame my thinking

    Your friend should also consider the development opportunity that the job presents, and what jobs it will line them up for the in the future if this job will add to their resume and give them skills to apply for higher level jobs in next few years it will be well worth it.

    To me 18% less than others already established in the role isn’t outrageous, but your friend could ask the company how they normally give pay rises and what she’d need to achieve to get a decent merit based raise to move her salary to where she wants it to be (watch out for vague wishy washy answers here!) and should also compare the pay from this job to other opportunities in the market at the moment.

    The other thing to look at is professional development opportunities, look for courses and training that is relevant to the job and see if the company will pay for it, as training budgets are normally separate from staffing budgets

    1. MK

      What really stood out for me is that the OP’s friend is being promoted to a role with a more than double the salary she gets in her current role. It could be that the company’s salary hierarchy is out of sync, but it’s also possible that the friend is getting a pretty huge promotion. Maybe she needs to look at the qualifications of her new peers, not just the job title; if they were all promoted to the job after they had 10 years of experience, while she only has 2, or they all have X bachground or qualification that she lacks, it could be that the company is taking a chance in giving her a job that she isn’t qualified (in paper) for, perhaps because they saw some exceptional qualities in her.

      1. lulu

        56% increase is not more than double the salary, though. It would be like going from making $40K to making $62.4K. But more to your point, it could be that she is already underpaid compared to peers at her current position, but that she didn’t know about it.

        1. MK

          You are right about the numbers, I didn’t think about the math. But even a 56% difference is pretty huge. Being underpaid is a possibility, but, on the other hand, I notice that she asked for what she believed the people in her new role make, and she might be mistaken about that.

        2. Ad Astra

          When you spell it out as $40k compared to $62.4k, it really doesn’t seem like an outrageous disparity. Maybe the OP’s friend should do some research and get a better feel for what would be fair compensation in her market. If this is a huge promotion, the salary offer might be reasonable.

    2. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

      I was in a role once where I was making almost double what my colleague made — she did the exact same job as I did, and she did it better than I did. But there were two major differences between us — I started as a contract worker and was then hired full time, so my initial rate started out higher than a regular employee, and I was also older than she was and more confident about negotiating a better salary. It absolutely wasn’t fair that I made so much more than she did… but that’s how it happened.

  17. Julia

    Who does LW2’s friend think she is, a teacher on Glee? I intered at a school when I was barely 22 and a lot of the kids liked me a lot, but I never talked about more than popular TV shows and music groups to them, and maybe their problems, but not mine. Holy cr*p.

    1. Windchime

      I was thinking more of the HBO show “Girls”, where Hannah becomes a teacher and ends up thinking she’s BFF’s with a student. They went out at lunchtime to get tongue piercings together at lunchtime, or some stupid thing.

  18. Blue Anne

    In the USA, what’s the deal for people who theoretically have vacation time but can’t use it? If you have unused vacation days at the end of the year, do they roll forward? Does the company have to buy them back off you?

    1. AdAgencyChick

      The legality depends on the state (and maybe on locality as well, since some cities may set more worker-friendly policies than their states); the practice within the legalities set by the government depends on the company.

      For example, in my city I know of at least one company that allows no rollover and does not pay out unused days, whereas another company allows up to 5 days’ rollover from year to year and pays out any unused days at half pay upon resignation (but does not pay unused days over the rollover count to existing employees).

      1. Blue Anne

        Ouch. :(

        I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that there’s no federal rule on it, but I am slightly surprised there’s not a standard answer across most places.

        It must be really frustrating if you’re stuck in a position where you can’t get any time off but also can’t roll it over or have the company buy your vacation time back off of you. I think that here in the UK if you haven’t been given the opportunity to use your minimum vacation time (28 days which I think includes your bank holidays) the company is obliged to pay you for it. Or maybe they just tend to pay people for the days so that their employees don’t actually seek a tribunal.

          1. Anonymosity

            My company does one, but they let you go in the hole one week if you need to. Then you dont’ accrue any more hours until you make it up. Then you start accruing again.

            1. OfficePrincess

              Mine does that too. I always roll over the full week though since I’m paranoid about something happening. (I’m still trying to shake some of the issues that came up at old job *shudder*).

        1. Ad Astra

          Typically you’ll get either rollover or a payout, but some companies offer both and other companies offer neither. They’re not required to offer you any paid vacation at all.

    2. Oryx

      There’s no federal guideline for this. Sometimes they roll over, sometimes it’s a use it or lose it policy unless you leave the company, at which point they often pay it out. But even the use it or lose it policy isn’t perfect — on the surface it’s meant to encourage people to use their time, but that only works if their manager lets them and I’ve known co-workers at previous jobs who lost their PTO because they couldn’t get it approved and it didn’t roll over.

    3. NacSacJack

      Depends on the company and or the govt entity. Lately, in the private companies, you can roll over a week, but you also get to buy vacation. The catch is you either sell the vacation back at the end of the year or use up all your vacation. Govt Entities typically allow you to accrue up to a certain number of hours, but once you reach that limit you cant accrue any more. Often people with many years of service bump up against the limit constantly because they also get sick leave. When they are sick, they dont have to use vacation days, they can use their sick leave time. With at least one state govt I know, they pay out your vacation and a percentage of sick leave, so people with the potential to retire hang on to as much vacation and sick leave as possible.

    4. Kyrielle

      A company I worked for in the past did something else that’s fairly common – you accumulated vacation days over time, with a maximum cap that would block accrual. So a new hire accumulates 10 days (2 weeks) a year; that’s 6-2/3 hours per month. When you hit the cap (I think it was 160 hours), you stop accumulating at all. As soon as you spend some, you start accumulating again, until you hit the cap….

      So a new hire could accumulate for two years before failure to take vacation meant they *stopped accruing altogether* (any time of the year, whenever it happened).

      That company was pretty good about letting you take vacation, but I assume one that isn’t could use a similar scheme.

    5. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      I live in a state that doesn’t require companies to pay out vacation, so my only friends who have that as an option are people whose company is headquartered out-of-state.

    6. SL

      We have a max accrual cap, so once you’ve hit that vacation (or sick time!) cap, then you don’t earn any more hours until you’ve used some, so I guess that’s one way to do rollover. Our state law requires that remaining vacation days be paid out when you leave the company.

    7. Renee

      In my state they’re earned when accrued so they roll over and are paid out at termination. Our company has a 2-year accrual cap (really the only alternative in my state to “use or lose”), but the owner hates enforcing it so he usually allows the accrual to continue but forces the employee to take vacation by a certain date instead.

    8. CMT

      This is making me feel really lucky to work where I do (state government). We can accrue up to 1,000 hours of leave, they pay out all leave when you end your employment with the state, and there are pretty generous policies of cashing out leave during the year if you need to.

      1. Windchime

        Wow, that’s crazy. My company allows you to carry over your yearly allotment + 40 hours. So if you usually get three weeks, you can carry over a maximum of 4 weeks. Anything above that, they pay out at the end of the year at 50% value. They do it this way because they want to encourage people to take vacation. It’s never been a problem for me to take vacation, but in some areas where coverage is crucial (like for nurses and receptionists), it’s been a problem in the past because there wasn’t enough float coverage. So you’d have to rustle up coverage on your own, or just take vacation when your doctor goes on vacation.

  19. Kathlynn

    #1
    I have a relative going through a similar thing. You have my sympathy. In BC you get 2 weeks paid off each year (3 weeks in your fifth year and there after). I don’t think he’s been able to get more then a week off in the years he’s been there. (then there’s also the unpaid overtime he is forced to put in. And no, he’s not exempt). He’s looking for work, but hasn’t been able to get another job.

  20. katamia

    OP3, maybe you could do up a questionnaire for clients/potential clients to fill out before you meet with them. Some people ramble just as much on paper/pixel as they do in person, but this might help you get a sense of what they’re looking for while cutting down on the time it takes. However, I agree with the people who say you’re never going to eliminate this 100%.

  21. Bend & Snap

    #1 this is one of the reasons I left my last job. It doesn’t get better. I had 2 weeks of vacation left going into the second half of the year and only one would roll. In September I started putting in for time off. My boss kept ignoring the requests. Finally I nailed him down to take the time in December, and a week later he basically told me I wouldn’t get promoted if I took that vacation and I should cancel. So I did, and kicked my job hunt up a notch.
    I ended up detailing this in my exit interview and the head of HR was appalled. They voluntarily paid me for that week of vacation on top of the rest of my accrual.

    I don’t think a chat with HR is out of line if your manager won’t loosen up–in my case, the denials were really out of sync with company culture and denied me a benefit that was important to our executive leadership.

    1. BRR

      I was wondering if the OP should talk to their boss’ boss about this. I know if I had a subordinate who wasn’t allowing their team to take vacation they’d be on my shit list.

  22. amanda2

    #2: I have to admit that when I was a middle school teacher, I did have favorites. That doesn’t mean I treated those students any differently or preferably than others. It just means that I always had students that, for whatever reason, I just really enjoyed more than others. I think it’s probably normal. I’m trying to imagine a teacher that could remain so aloof that he or she didn’t form relationships with students and their families, some more than others.

    I’ve probably even had casual, joking conversations with close friends or family where I relayed how much I loved students x, y, and z or told cute stories about them and they’re such great kids or they’re my “favorites.”

    However treating some students as pets or giving them preferential treatment is unprofessional (despite personal feelings). Even if you have favorites, no one should be able to tell. All students are treated equally.

    1. katamia

      As an ex-teacher who also has a close relative who’s a teacher, I think it’s pretty much impossible to like everyone in a single class (much less every student in multiple classes if you teach multiple ones) exactly equally. There are always going to be students who react better to your teaching style and personality, which often makes them look better in a teacher’s eyes. You (general you, not saying you have a problem with this) just have to work to keep that from affecting your judgment when it comes to grades and offering students extra opportunity. Which OP’s friend is clearly not doing.

    2. BRR

      I’ve taught here and there, we all have favorites and any teacher who said they didn’t have favorites is lying (when you get the student who wants to learn, respects you, and is incredibly smart it’s like a present from god). However, any teacher who is even mildly good at their job knows they can’t really openly play favorites like in the OP’s situation.

      1. Hellanon

        Thing is, as a teacher, while it’s natural to “like” some of your students more, it’s useful to break down what you mean by like – do you find them engaging, funny, creative? Are you impressed by their struggle, do you appreciate their tenacity, are they a disaffected rebel you’ve decided to win over? Getting to what it is you like about certain students can help you maintain boundaries *and* teach them more effectively, but more importantly, imo, it makes you think harder about any students you don’t like and why. Because it’s those students you may be failing without realizing why or how….

        I teach young adults, and people always ask me if I make friends with them. What I always tell them is that I don’t, because those relationships are always crystal clear to the other students, and I don’t want *any* of my kids thinking they have to make friends with me in order to succeed, or that they might fail because they didn’t. That’s not their job, and it’s not mine to force them into that situation. It’s my job to teach all of them, not just the ones who are good at relating to their teachers…

    3. Katie the Fed

      Exactly. As a manager I have favorites. Of course I do – I’m human. It’s a problem when I start treating people differently.

  23. former teacher

    Re: #2- my immediate concern, as always, is liability. Once you become overly familiar with your students, you run the risk of all kinds of harassment charges. Even if you don’t get charged formally with anything, it’s great fodder for anyone in administration who has a problem with you to deny a raise or threaten your job. A teacher friend of mine once left a room crying, and when a student she had previously advocated for followed her out, she had to have a meeting with her boss and it took a month to clear up.

    I would suggest approaching your friend with concern for her wellbeing and potential professional consequences. Google had a wealth of examples of these things being blown way out of proportion (as well as being handled appropriately) if she needs real life examples. However, I would keep the focus off the actual relationship with students and more on the way administration may perceive her behavior. Everyone knows school administration/bureacracy sucks, so she’ll probably be most responsive to that.

    1. Lurking

      Exactly. It doesn’t sound like she is much older than her students. I could easily see one of her favorites developing a crush and assuming that she must feel the same way “because she obviously likes me or she would treat me like the other students.” It is also possible that parents, who have seen numerous stories about teachers sleeping with students, will also lodge a complaint against her.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger

      Sex doesn’t need to be brought into this for it to be inappropriate, though. It’s not professional to treat students as friends. Kids need boundaries, and it also has to be clear that the teacher is being objective about how she treats each individual student.

      1. former teacher

        Totally agree, but I think most friends become less defensive when you focus on the way others perceive their actions, and it can lead to a more effective conversation. Unless the OP has genuine concerns about abusive behavior, in which case she should report immediately, I would start with that conversation. Important to note that an overly familiar relationship with students can be grounds for discipline or firing even if there is nothing sexual about it.

  24. Workfromhome

    #1
    I too have experienced some vacation issues although my immediate manager usually tries to be reasonable. We have always had a policy for certain employees in a department to accumulate extra time work as comp time. Overtime is paid but its supposed to be pre approved and that requires multiple people to be involved. I had accumulated a number of days and wanted to take one single Friday off. 3 times in a row someone up above cancelled them at the last minute by assigning critical out of town trips. After the 3rd time I simply stopped taking any time as comp time. I put in a request for overtime pay on every little thing. If it would not be approved the task woul not be done. It eventually worked.

    For the op I would do something to “call out” the boss to see if they will become reasonable if confronted with their unreasonable methods or if you truly need to go to HR or leave. Pick say 6 possible weeks stretched over 6 months. Say “I know its been hard so I took some time and came up with a ton of options. Please have a look and we can meet tomorrow to go over which weeks work”
    You have done all the work. All the boss needs to do is pick one. If he can’t find one week I’m 6 months you can reasonably call him out. If you are so critical to the company you can’t take vacation you deserve a raise.

    1. Ani

      I’d almost prefer advising the OP to show those 6 possible weeks over a 6-month period to the boss and saying: Pick the 4 for me to take. OP has already accumulated a month of leave. Sure, the boss might react poorly. But something tells me asking the boss to pick 1 week over the 6-month period would provoke a negative reaction too, maybe just a more passive-aggressive one from the manager. I don’t know that this working relationship can be saved.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I was thinking that a way to play it, without involving HR, could be to ask for the week before/after the one you really wanted.

        OP: “Boss, I was hoping you would approve ThisWeek off for me”
        Boss: “Hmmm… well, I’m a dick and if you want that, that would be the time for me to be away to show you who is really in control… so no, I’m taking that week off.”
        OP: “OK, so that means the week before ThisWeek would be OK for me to take because you’ll be here, right? That works out better for me, the flights are cheaper at that time and my projects will be all wrapped up. Thanks!”

        Of course, this works perfectly in my mind. Definitely better to get HR or someone else involved.

    2. RVA Cat

      This – “If you are so critical to the company you can’t take vacation you deserve a raise.” If you are that necessary, what happens if you had surgery or something and were out for a month with no warning?

      1. RVA Cat

        …plus, as you’ve said you have a family, I’d imagine this manager would not be pleased should you need time off to have another child.

  25. GOG11

    RE #3 – I second Alison’s suggestion of redirecting. I used to do intakes for mediation (dispute resolution process, used by families, neighbors, land lords and tenants, etc.; sometimes used as an alternative to litigation) and this technique was highly effective.

    Over time, many of the clients learned what was expected of them and what was appropriate in that context and you could see their behavior shift. Some of them even started using the phrasing we did (i.e., “I’d like to propose X solution because it would meet Y need for me and Z need for Other Party”). When you’re directing the conversation, you’re also modeling the process for your clients. It can be draining in the beginning, but sometimes that initial investment really pays off over the course of the relationship/delivery of services.

  26. Swarley

    #4
    I really want to emphasize the experience factor here. I’ve seen too many people upset over the fact they’re making less than their colleagues with the same job title, but don’t consider experience and/or more complex job duties. I’m not saying that this is the case for the OP’s friend, but it’s something that a lot of people tend to understandably overlook.

  27. LizB

    #3: I just finished a course of life coaching with a wonderful coach, and before we had our first session, she gave me a bunch of worksheets to work through to help her get to know me and guide our first few discussions. One of them was a Wheel of Life exercise, another had me set goals in various areas of my life, another was a big questionnaire of get-to-know-you type questions, another had a poem to read and room to write a response. Doing those worksheets got me in the mindset of trying to improve my life and think about my accomplishments and the things I’m grateful for, not just the things that were going wrong. Maybe you could try doing something like that for your clients. I’m sure some people will still want to vent, but I think it’ll be easier to redirect them towards their goals or something else positive if you have that information already.

  28. Katie the Fed

    OP 3 – Maybe you should be clear up front, like “I offer a free 30-minute consultation, where I’ll ask you things like X, Y and Z.”

    Then you need to steer the conversation – do you have a clear list of questions you go through? Can you send that ahead of time to keep it focused?

    I have to say I think some of this is just your job – you do need to listen to some of the venting to get at what the real issues are.

  29. the gold digger

    The real moral of the story is not to have AAM open (and your microphone on) while you are on a work conference call, but Alison, is there any way to stop the video ads that suddenly appear in the upper left-hand corner of your screen once I have had your page open for about ten minutes?

    1. Delyssia

      Adblock Plus (in Firefox. I’m sure there are similar options for other browsers).

      Honestly, I would prefer to let Alison have the ad dollars from the ad loading on my screen, but I’ve had too many autoplaying ads, so I block them all.

    2. Monodon monoceros

      If you are using Chrome (maybe there’s something similar in other browsers too), someone here once suggested to go into the settings for Chrome–>Privacy–>content settings and then in Plugins, choose “let me choose when to run plugin content”. This stops the ads from autoplaying. It stops other sites from playing things too, but you can always click on the things you want to play. This saved the AAM site for me. The autoplay ads were driving me bonkers before I did this.

      1. Heather

        oh I hope this works. AAM freezes my browser (Chrome) all.the.time and I’ve never been able to figure out why.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Upper left? Not upper right? If left, that’s new and weird and I definitely need to report it.

      On the auto-play audio ads, if you send me the URL they link to, it’s easier for me to get them blocked. Sorry this continues to happen!

      1. My Fake Name is Laura

        Would you consider an ad free experience for Patreon supporters at a certain level?

        1. Beth

          That’s a really interesting idea, I’d love to support this blog that way. I’d pay extra for bonus podcasts etc too

      1. simonthegrey

        I do too unfortunately. I do turn it off sometimes but I have had bad luck with autoplay ads.

    4. E

      This is why my laptop stays muted unless I want to listen to Pandora or something at work (usually with earbuds). Better to not have random noise start when not expecting it. :)

  30. Career Counselorette

    #3 is interesting to me, because to me it smacks of two things: the need to draw clear and consistent boundaries, and a service provider who is more focused on their own needs than that of the service recipient. My work is similar- I work as a career counselor with an underserved population that has many, many barriers to employment, so when I meet with people our conversations are never just about finding employment. I listen to people tell me about how they’re facing eviction, they have no carfare, they’ve been saving half of lunches to eat for dinners, they feel despondent and hopeless, and all manner of other emotionally loaded things that are exacerbated by not working. It’s not part of my job to be a therapist for these issues, and I will be frank with people about the fact that I am not a mental health professional (yet) so my capability to address certain psychological issues is limited, but at the same time, it would be entirely tone-deaf to shut it down, more so if I felt like it was a “dump” on me. And often, once my clients realize that they CAN tell me these things because I factor addressing those barriers into their employment plans, they usually stop talking about it within the first few meetings and concentrate on finding work. It may be the case that #3 and I have a different clientele, but I really take issue with some of the language used in why s/he is having such a hard time dealing with clients’ emotions, and I’m getting a sense that the end goal of making people more “joyful” and “attracting” more good outcomes is influencing the way s/he as a service provider views the clients and their issues. They’re not telling you these things because they’re “dumping” on people and ruining their own lives- they’re probably hoping that you will be someone who can hear them out and help them figure out a constructive solution.

    To be clear, I’m not saying that you have to be a therapist when you’re not, and I’m not saying that you can let people talk ad nauseum about something they’re not willing to change. I do agree with Alison, though, that hearing people at their emotional worst is part of the territory when you’re doing any kind of one-on-one counseling, and if you’re interpreting it as clients having emotions AT you, it’s going to limit how constructive your assistance can be.

      1. Kelly L.

        Also, to add to the point about the “attract” language, this sounds like a coaching service focused on a particular belief system. I wonder whether the LW’s advertising makes it clear that this belief system is the basis of the coaching, and if not, maybe making it clearer might more efficiently attract people who want to espouse that system. Clients may be walking into it unawares.

        And even with that said, people are coming to a service like this because they want help. I definitely think the OP can limit the length of that first call and try to coax clients into being concise during that call, but once the client is paying, it’s still going to be a service from which people will want help.

  31. LiveAndLetDie

    1. Start looking for another job. This isn’t going to get any better, and fighting your (bad) manager on it will just sour life at work for you. If they’re refusing to approve vacation I bet they also think people who want to use it are somehow slackers for wanting to take advantage of their vacation time.

    2. Holy moly. The LW’s friend sounds insecure and unprofessional. Quite frankly, any teacher that is this freewheeling with boundaries is a danger to their students — not in a predatory grooming sense necessarily, but they are absolutely damaging the students’ perception of what relationships with authority figures are supposed to look like. Hopefully the administration at her school sees this and will do something about it. Surely it’s only a matter of time before a student or a student’s parent complains.

    3. I agree with Alison — lay everything out in the first phone call and hope that the emotional dumping gets cut back significantly. I’m sure you’ll still get it, but trying to redirect when the conversation heads in that direction may be the best solution.

    4. This is a tight situation. I’d look into what Alison said, but also consider that pay for certain roles falls within a certain range (you’ll often see this range on the job listings). It could be that due to experience, background, and time in the job, the other people in the roles have moved up within the acceptable range for the job. It sounds like a pretty big gap, though, so this isn’t the likely scenario.

    5. Absolutely work with your internship! It sounds like you’re doing well there and that they value your work — this is great not only for personal relationships but also for references and work experience. Be clear with them that you would absolutely love to work for them if they have a full-time opportunity for you, but that your needs will not be met at the internship level so that if they don’t have a full-time slot for you, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Reasonable employers will absolutely understand.

  32. Bee

    OP#2 – Wow my best friend does the same thing. She makes it obvious that she has favourites and talks to them in a non-professional way. It got to the point where she actively sought out a student at lunch time as he was her favourite student. I was shocked when I heard that. A part of me thinks because she’s a young teacher she wants to remain “hip and cool” and is unable to draw a boundary. I told her what she is doing is wildly inappropriate. Ever since then she’s stopped telling me about her students, but I don’t think she has stopped her unprofessional behaviour.

  33. themmases

    Speaking as a client (but in therapy) I think there is a lot that OP3 could and should do. An intake is about introducing what the professional can do and finding out what the client needs. However as a client, if I were already good at distilling my own problems to just the bullet points and controlling my emotions (such as the urge to vent) then I probably wouldn’t have needed therapy in the first place. The professional in the room needs to direct the conversation.

    OP3 needs to talk first, giving an agenda for the call and laying out specifically what they can and can’t offer, elicit a specific response (goals, X areas you want to work on, whatever it is you do), and then talk again to sum up how the client’s needs do or don’t work with what the coach can offer. This is really the best information you can give the client about whether they want to work with you, so you are doing them a service too.

    My therapist also warned me specifically up front that the method she practices (CBT) would help me build skills but wouldn’t involve a lot of venting and catharsis. That can be disappointing to hear at first when you’re seeking help as a client and feeling overwhelmed. However, directing the conversation was one way my therapist demonstrated that she was a professional I could trust. And if there are people who really want to be able to vent to their coach, it sounds like they need to be able to learn during the intake that they and OP3 aren’t a good match.

  34. Lia

    OP #1, is it a coverage issue? I worked a job once where we absolutely had to have minimum staffing at all times, and due to seniority issues, getting “popular” vacation time off wasn’t happening for newbies — the senior staff got first dibs on major holidays. In a situation like that, I could see where someone new asked for July 4th, Labor Day weekend, and Thanksgiving off but was overruled by a senior staffer who got there first, and thus all of the new person’s requests got denied. However, if you aren’t asking for busy times or times where coverage is a struggle, it is your boss probably being a jerk, tbh, and it will not improve.

    1. Beancounter in Texas

      My thought was similar. Is the OP asking for time off when the office is in the peak of its season?

      My husband loves to ski in January, when his office is slow, but that’s the peak of my end-of-the-year. I feel like even asking for vacation in January paints a target on my back.

  35. cataloger

    OP2: I was in a similar situation as a student, and it was pretty uncomfortable. In middle school, my science teacher and I both ice skated at the same rink, and while we were there she insisted that I call her by her first name, told me about her divorce, etc. and in the classroom we chatted about skating. I really wasn’t sure how to interact with her. She was probably a perfectly nice person, but the power imbalance made it too weird.

    1. Elizabeth West

      If that were me, I wouldn’t talk to my student any differently at the rink than I do in the classroom. I might talk about skating, but carefully, so nobody could think the kid was my pet because we were ice buddies.

      With an outside interest like skating, you will have adults and kids doing it together–there is no demarcation unless the rink has specific practice times for different levels or ages (most public rinks don’t). I imagine it would be the same for other community recreational activities, or if a student goes to the teacher’s church, etc.

      I would just recommend that anyone in this situation keep their teacher hat on because you never know who you will run into.

  36. Allison

    #2, if I were advising a friend in this situation, I’d probably point out that teachers who are that close with their students generally aren’t taken seriously as authority figures, and thus have a hard time educating their students because the classes become unfocused and kids often slack off and don’t do the work or bother studying for tests. If my friend wanted to be successful teaching at that school, they need to establish boundaries and learn to act like an authortity figure.

    Okay can I make a comment on the ads? Autoplay I can (sort of) live with since my work laptop is muted, but this Pur ad is literally demanding my attention by having the page autoscroll to the ad and away from the comment box, making it very hard to type this comment. It keeps happening every time I try to pause the ad and scroll back down here to type.

  37. MsM

    OP #2, you can probably request that your daughter not be placed in your friend’s classes when the time comes. You can even cite the personal relationship if you don’t want to make a formal complaint.

    I realize that doesn’t solve the problem of your friend trying to be too buddy-buddy with your daughter or her other students, though, so I’d at least nip the former in the bud now. Tell her you don’t want your daughter being anyone’s “pet”: you want her judged on her own merits, and able to form healthy relationships with her peers without them either sucking up to or rejecting her because they know she’s close with Ms. Smith. Maybe if your friend’s forced to connect it with a specific kid rather than being able to brush it off as “general education trends,” it’ll actually sink in.

  38. Lanya (aka Camp Director Kim)

    OP #1, do you have a Human Resources department? If you still don’t get anywhere with your boss after following Alison’s initial advice, you might try scheduling a meeting with someone in HR. Show them all the evidence of your continually-disapproved vacation requests. They should know that your boss is preventing you from using the benefits you signed on for, and they should help you resolve the situation. (If nothing comes of it, then you know it’s time to get out of there!)

  39. Recently promoted

    I am in a similar position to #4, but a little different. I was recently promoted to manage my group and discovered that I am making less than some of the people I am now managing, despite having more experience and more responsibility. I’ve been trying to decide how to approach this since I only became aware of the disparity after I gained access to what everyone makes due to my new management role. I know it is usually not a good idea to try to justify your pay based on what others are making, but I seem to be in a position where I am being underpayed, at least relative to other people in my group. Any suggestions on how I should handle this?

  40. Retail Lifer

    #4 THIS IS WHY I HAVE TO SWITCH JOBS EVERY FEW YEARS. Every company I work for has a ceiling on what percentage raise you can ghet, which is fair, but it doesn’t account for the fact that other companies often pay better and to acquire their talent we have to offer them more. So if you work your way up in the same company, you could easily be making 50% less than someone whop was hired extrenally. This has been the case at literally every job I have ever had and it’s the reason I’ve never stayed at any job more than 3 years. If I want more money, even if I just want the SAME as my co-workers, I have to quit.

    1. Ad Astra

      None of my previous companies have had formal policies limiting the raises you can get, but they all seemed to have official or unofficial wage freezes. I never saw anyone get a raise without a promotion, though I did see one or two people get a promotion without a raise. So the only reason my income has increased over the last five years is because I changed companies twice. How is it that no one will allow COLA but everyone will hire outsiders for a much higher salary?

      1. Retail Lifer

        We might get up to a 3% raise, but then the outside person who was hired in might make 20% more. So that’s fair.

  41. Lurking

    Here is another way to approach the teacher friend. I am nearly 50 years old but I can still remember my 9th grade teacher calling me a bastard. This incident happened over 30 years ago. Ask you friend she would like to be remembered 30 years from now by her students. Because she will be remembered by those students whom she did not favor.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Good point.

      I had a teacher who was abusive. I will never forget her and my memories of her class were not fond ones. She made it okay for the other kids to pick on me (she did it herself), and that continued until I graduated.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot

        I had a teacher I always compare to Miss Trunchbull from Matilda – she did things that were so bizarre and outrageous that children who reported her actions wouldn’t be believed, especially since she was nice as pie to all the adults. I was invited to her retirement party as an adult, and I seriously considered showing up to tell everyone what she was *really* like.

    2. Kyrielle

      True! I had a teacher who actually thought the world of me…she thought since I was good at math that I should be _as good_ at English. She gave me worse grades than other students for the same quality of work because she thought I could do better…as a result, I got frustrated and wanted to quit trying, because I _had_ been doing my best. Either the work is to standard or it’s not, but don’t move the standard. (She also tried to strongarm me into joining the mock trial team because I was good at it in a class assignment. I get it’s her pet project, but I had _no desire_ to do that. I hated that project, the whole experience! Never wanted to do it again. But I did want the grade, so of course I did my best on the class project. Sign up for more of the same? No way!)

      Which is to say that even when a teacher has a positive vision of a given student, they can *still* make themselves That Teacher in the student’s memory. (And the parents’ – my parents ended up having to talk with this teacher and the principal to get her to back off. About the ‘holding me to a higher, and unrealistic, standard’ part, not about the mock trial pressure which I handled on my own.)

      1. Kelly L.

        Oh, this so much! Being really good at some things but only kinda-good at others was a huge bugbear of mine. People always thought I was slacking in one thing if I didn’t score as high as I did in a different subject, when I was actually grinding like crazy in the former and lazily coasting by on natural talent in the latter.

  42. Brooke

    Work is an emotion-laden thing, and by the time someone is motivated enough to want coaching, they’re likely to have a lot of emotions they need to express as part of why they’re coming to you.

    In other words, I agree, it’s part of the job.

  43. Piper

    #4 – This just irks me to no end because I’m in this situation right now. My company will pay an EXTERNAL person more money for the exact same job an internal person who is promoted into the position will get. I was brought in at the very low end of the scale for what I do (because someone put my payscale under the wrong job file because that was all they had open at the moment – unknown to me until after I took the job and was working there). After a little over a year, I received a title change (effectively, a promotion) but no raise.

    I questioned my old manager (who is completely useless shut it down) about this and he said the title was an “acknowledgement of the work I’d already been doing” and there was no raise coming. Shortly after, the company restructured and I moved to a new manager. I brought this up to him and he was horrified and escalated it to our VP. Unfortunately, because of corporate red tape, the median salary for my new position falls outside of the allowed percentage increase. So he’s still asking for a larger than allowed raise for me, but it only gets me 50% of the way to where I should be to fall in the median, which is still outside of where my company would normally pay, they’ve acknowledged this (my company typically pays in the 80th percentile or higher to stay competitive. He straight up said that if they were hiring me right now, from the outside, I’d get the number I was asking for (probably higher), but he can only ask for so much right now and even what he’s asking for has to go all the way up to our COO for approval.

    He’s trying to get additional stock options and vacation time to round it out, but seriously. I’ve contributed a lot, everyone knows it, and it would cost them more to replace me than to just give me what I should be getting paid and keep me on, but they’re choking themselves on their own red tape. Ridiculous, idiotic policies. This is one reason why there’s mad turnover around here.

    1. Ad Astra

      How is no one at your company worried about you resigning for a higher-paying position at a different company?

      1. Piper

        They’re pretty arrogant there. Upper management believes it’s a privilege to work there and truly believes no one would ever want to quit. They seem to think they’re the only game in town, but they aren’t. Far from it. I get contacted for other jobs several times a week and have talked to a few companies but haven’t found one that I feel is the right fit yet.

  44. No name

    I have a friend that is an adjunct at the local college and she frequently posts about how dumb her students are. Sometimes, she even posts pcitures of their work. I have told her that this doesn’t seem very professional, but she let me know that none of the students will see it, which is only half of the problem. I think overall it reflects poorly on her.

  45. Dr J

    I had a civics teacher in high school who was pretty consistently unprofessional, but the worst was when she spent one of our class periods talking about how her boyfriend was pressuring her to have the “double eyelid” surgery (she was Asian). I think she started crying at one point. It was AWFUL; I was horrified that this authority figure would be struggling with such an obvious situation and that she would ASK US for advice. Looking back, she was probably 23 and it all seems kind of more understandable but at the time…

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