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Teacher Bullies: Stand Up to Bullying by Co-workers

Photo by Dionne Hartnett/flickr

Bullying does not just happen between children.  Nor is it reserved for those who “don’t know better” or have not been through bullying awareness training.  Frighteningly, bullying takes place in offices, job sites, and schools by adults who should “know better.”

When we asked our Facebook teachers to take a quick, anonymous survey on bullying in schools by other teachers and staff, the response was immediate and overwhelming.  Stories of being belittled and bullied by co-workers, administrators, parents, and support staff were common.  From false accusations to hateful words to belittling and degrading comments in front of parents and students, teachers are not immune to the behavior they rally behind to stop.

 

As with children, the scars from being bullied linger.  Teachers who were victims of this behavior reported that the incidents were not ones they would forget.  They reported feeling “bad,” “hurt,” “insulted,” “awful,” “reluctant to go to school.”  As educators, we empathize with students and can understand how bullying behavior can cause long-lasting damage and insecurities.  What we tend to forget is that those reactions and emotional scars are not limited by age.

 

Every person, regardless of age, feels the same anxiety, pain, and trauma from being bullied.  From the teacher who is demeaned by her administrator in the break room to the support teacher who is verbally assaulted daily by her co-teacher in front of the children, bullying creates scars on those who are victimized.  As a teacher, as a human being, it is your job to stand up against bullying whether you see it happening between students or your co-workers.  Being courageous can be scary, but being bullied is devastating.  So often we stress to students how important it is to stand up for themselves and others, but when the situation presents itself in our own lives, it is easy to see how difficult it can be for children.

 

One of the challenges with being bullied by co-workers, especially in a school setting, can be the difficulties associated with filing grievances and taking complaints to a higher authority – especially when it is an administrator who is doing the bullying.  One teacher reported that she had to go to the school board in order to get the bullying by her administrator to stop.  The key is that she did it.  She found a way to stop being bullied and brought the situation to light.  Bravery, as she found out, comes in all forms.

 

Today, challenge yourself to keep your eyes and ears open.  Watch and listen to what is going on in your own school.  Are nasty comments being made about other teachers?  Is there someone who is picking on someone else?  Does that half-joking comment made by a teacher at the break room table leave you with that awkward and uncomfortable feeling that bullying produces?  If you see it, stop it.

 

Kindness and grace that originates with teachers filters down to abundant kindness in students.  Your students watch your actions and reactions.  If they see you ignoring bullying, they learn that it must be okay in certain circumstances.  Be the role model you want them to emulate and stand up against bullying wherever you see it.  You have the power to change a life.


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6 comments
Diane
Diane

@ Elizabeth, I know exactly how you feel. The same has happened to me. I have also successfully worked at other schools. I had fun and was a great employee. The last two years have been agonizing. I am right now sick to my stomach thinking about going back to school. I am an academic special education aide. I'm new at this position. It started out great, but then something happened. I have no clue as to what it was. I have racked my brain to figure it out. The one that has started the bullying is the other aide in our room. Some times the Sp. Ed. teacher won't speak to me. Unbelievable. Some of the other teachers won't speak to me. Why not??!! Here's the kicker, the other aide is involved in our schools anti bullying program. What a joke. I have spoken to our principal, she seemed very concerned and asked how it was going. (Nothing has changed) I talked to her in December. It's March, I can't take it any more. I plan to write a letter to her to have it on file. I am scared to death but I've got to do something. This teacher and aide have gotten rid of another aide the same way. No talking to her, not letting her know if she's doing something wrong, keeping her isolated and also talking behind her back to others and not including her in meetings. Good luck to you, keep your head high and don't lower yourself to their level.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I am going through this at the moment and I cannot figure out why. I have successfully worked in both secondary and primary schools where I have fitted in and had fun. But not this school. I have been belittled by my principal in front of the whole staff and had derogatory statements about me made by staff in front of parents. I have to go back to school tomorrow and I am terrified. I have to stay there because my husband is not working. Today as I was driving back from school I thought about driving into a pole. I am on anti depressants for anxiety. I don't know what to do next!

Shannon
Shannon

@libby. Talk to an adult you trust, parent, teacher assistant, ect. send an email (you want it documented that you have emailed your concers) to the principal (or school board if the principal does not help) explaining the situation and examples along with other students names (if any) that will back you or are also feeling bullied. Explain you dont know the solution but can not and will not continued to be bullied by a teacher and that there needs to be some form of resolution to the problem. Please keep a journal or a log of her actions and words so you can recall specific situations. Please keep up posted and good luck!

libby
libby

Help me my teacher is bullying me. I am worried that if I stand up to her I will get in trouble. But I can't keep letting my teacher continue to bully me.

Gloria Wilson
Gloria Wilson

Very tough situations, but it happens more than we realize.

Wendy
Wendy

I'm so glad to see this article, and to know that I wasn't alone. I got out of an environment where my admin was a huge bully only to transfer to a building run by a 'clique' of teachers who bullied horrendously. I tried to take the high road, and ended up in the hospital for 3 months. It took two years for that to stop. Workplace bullying is so real, and almost harder than for the kids, b/c we're just supposed to be able to deal with it.