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I work in an elementary school as a monitor/aide where I've just started my 4th school year. For the past three years, in addition to being a monitor, I also worked at the front desk greeting parents, working security and doing some clerical work.

This year, when I got my assignment I was given 3 classes to monitor and the front desk was assigned to someone else. I was floored. I am an excellent employee. I show up early, never call in sick and take my work very seriously. I've also gotten the highest score I could possibly get on my annual reviews. Most of the other people I work with complain constantly and since they have seniority have gotten better assignments.

I haven't yet approached my boss as to why this change happened as the year just started and he has been busy. Also, I don't want to go in there with a bad attitude. However, I do want to ask him about it this week. I need to add that the principal is allowed to change our assignment at any time as he sees fit and the person that replaced me does have seniority over me.

Any ideas how to approach him about this? I am not going to leave but I feel like I'm now going backwards in my career instead of forwards.

  • I also worked at the front desk greeting parents, working security and doing some clerical work. Did you also lose these tasks in addition to the front desk? Did you do all things at the same time, or were you moved from one position to another over periods of time? It sounds like you're left with monitoring 3 classes at the moment, having been reassigned from the positions mentioned. – rath Sep 8 '15 at 1:33
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    @TheWanderingDevManager I disagree. I was tempted to vote as well. This answers why he was reassigned, but the OP is asking how to approach the boss about it. I'm trying to find a duplicate to link – rath Sep 8 '15 at 1:38
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    @rath - the crux of the question you've edited out. The poster was in a powered position and is now working in a school. The principal has used their remit and changed duties and the poster doesn't like it, but there is nothing untoward here, the approach is to not do it, the principal can just say "operational reasons" and be done. – The Wandering Dev Manager Sep 8 '15 at 1:49
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    The way you approach the boss is to say "hey, I found this a bit surprising; is there something I was doing wrong or not doing, or was it just time for someone else to take that role?" Then listen carefully. – keshlam Sep 8 '15 at 3:01
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    So you were relieved from doing front desk and clerical work and you somehow think this is a step backwards rather than a promotion? People don't make careers out of filing. I suppose you could bring up that you'd rather keep doing more basic work but you'd be killing any chance you have of further promotion and risk being let go for being too expensive/experienced for the type of work you're doing. I'm flagging to close for being unclear as the question doesn't match the OP's situation. – Lilienthal Sep 8 '15 at 8:43
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I would side with @Lilienthal's sentiment that being moved off front-desk duties does not at all seem like a step backwards, on the opposite being relieved of that type of secretarial work seems like a reason to celebrate. Think about how much time that ate up.

You now have that time to work on your professional development, building skills associated with more integral roles closer to the heart of what the school does -- classroom practice.

Think about it this way: what amount of training, past experience, and credentials would someone off the street need to do each particular role that you did. What does it take to be a classroom monitor? What does it take to be a front-desk staff? (I would guess these jobs can be done well with a HS diploma, good work ethic, communication skills, decent memory for names, and a few months on the job to learn the ins and outs of the building and the school year cycle.) As a result, an individual in these roles is highly expendable and can be flexibly shoved across these roles without much ripple effect productivity-wise.

So I would suggest to reconsider your situation. Where there appears to be a downside, there may be a great opportunity for growth. What could you do with the time and mental capacity freed up from the meet-and-greet duties, that would move you closer toward the goal of becoming a valued expert in some narrow area(s) in the public education system? Perhaps you could take on additional roles that your experience as classroom monitor affords, such as participation in internal curriculum development or teacher peer evaluation efforts. Perhaps you could become more involved in supporting peripheral activities, such as administration and coordination of assessment activities, instructional coaching, technology or library services?

Again, I think your year is off to a promising start -- the difference between whether it will be just another year of same old, or a year characterized by a leap forward professionally, is a matter of perspective, wise goal setting, and perseverance.

Look into PD opportunities at the school and district level, think about where you want to go professionally, find alignment and pursue these. Now, that might indeed be worth discussing with your principal. Come to him/her not with an attitude of a (slightly) ticked-off employee, but that of a mentee -- "I think I am ready for new challenges, I am interested in growing professionally in areas X, Y and Z, do you think there are opportunities you could recommend or additional support roles you could see me succeeding in within these areas?" And so forth. Everyone likes to be a mentor, sometimes you just need to go out on a limb to put someone in that position. Often, that's all it takes for them to reach out and provide the support we seek. Good luck!

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Any ideas how to approach him about this? I am not going to leave but I feel like I'm now going backwards in my career instead of forwards.

Just talk with him casually, when you each have a moment of privacy.

Something like "Hey, boss. I've been wondering about the change in assignment this year. I've really enjoyed working the front desk in the past, and this year that assignment was taken away." could start off the discussion.

Approach it that you are just asking for information - not accusing, not treating it as a demotion, just trying to understand.

It's quite possible that the boss doesn't view this as a negative at all. A pleasant conversation with him will probably give you the insight into his thinking that you want.

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