Have you ever witnessed teachers bullying students?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by vickilyn, Jun 13, 2015.

  1. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Jun 13, 2015

    Has anyone witnessed a teacher who fits the bill as a classroom bully, someone abusing their position of power to humiliate, berate, intimidate, or threaten a student or group of students? If so, I would love to hear how you responded, whether you looked away and ignored, to keep the peace, or to protect your job. If you spoke up, how did that work out for you? Would you do the same thing again?

    I know, not the kind of discussion many of us want to take part in, but it is personal and important to me and a couple of colleagues. I thank you in advance for sharing.
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    During my pre-student teaching field experience, I was placed with a first grade teacher that I considered to be a bully. Lots of yelling, lots of threats and humiliation of children. I did confront her about it (or at least as much of a confrontation as you can have with somebody who has direct control over whether or not you pass a class, and therefore whether you can graduate on time...). She told me it was just what these kids were used to, and it was the only thing they responded to.

    Talking with classmates, many people had similar horror stories from that school, so I suspect it was a school climate issue. Long story short, I treated the children with as much kindness and respect as I could, I avoided ever speaking above my normal speaking voice, and the classroom teacher was amazed at the quality of Thank You cards that I received from the children at the end of the field placement. There were more than a few tears had by both me and the students that day.

    Looking back, I wish I had done more to defend the children, but ultimately, I don't think there is anything I could have done other than be an example to them that not all teachers were going to be mean to them.
     
  4. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Jun 13, 2015

    I once worked in a school that had a para who was extremely bullying. I walked by her morning duty station one day and heard her telling a boy to get his pants pulled up or the men in his neighborhood would want to have sex with him. In those words. to a 5th grade boy.

    I turned her in to administration. They did not renew her contract at the end of the year and allowed her to move to another school.
     
  5. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    I haven't known any teachers who bully, but I had a principal who bullied students and teachers.

    I reported it to my union, but nothing came of it.
     
  6. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Did reporting the bully result in retribution or endanger your job? I will pretty much take a stand when it is to protect others, to defend those who can't defend themselves. Others see it as being a snitch, and that teachers should receive "special consideration" because we are all teachers. At what point does the bully being a teacher mean we should look the other way? We have all read about law enforcement officers who close ranks and look the other way when one of their own abuses a spouse, or is violent with suspects - that "wall of blue" has allowed many instances of domestic violence to go unreported. Most states require teachers to report abuse, but we are thinking family members. What if the threat is closer than that?

    I am not asking to create a huge thread, but I need as much information as possible, and I don't know who else can give me as wide a range of valued opinions.

    It is hard to think that even with strong evidence the bully suffers no real consequence. Science teacher mentality - I like things to be logical or full of wonder. I am not as fond of things that are illogical and don't compute, that only numb the brain.

    Sorry if this is a little disjointed, I'm not sleeping well. It is nice, however, to have company when I am up at night. I love the late night posters!!
     
  7. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    Jun 13, 2015

    That's a tough one. I worked as a para for a while and my bosses were bullies. There is still a lot of raw emotion when I talk about them. Anywho..I began documenting times, places, things said, actions taken by me and or them. I then met with union reps with the documentation..and long story short I was transferred to another school at end of year. (This was for the better really, I was able to go back to school and earn my credential. I also know what kind of teacher I don't want to be). Being the whistle blower doesn't always go as planned. It was nice at another school....but from what I hear nothing changed in the behavior of the former bosses.

    I agree it's not as easy to report as we would like. After making such a report I have more or less ruined any opportunity of returning to that district as a teacher. Which is said...I graduated from that district and would love to work at my old high school.

    Good luck
     
  8. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Jun 13, 2015

    I was bullied by a teacher in high school.

    The teacher did not like that I would help the other students with computer questions (related to the class, it was Digital Photography) after I finished all assignments that I was given. So one day she started yelling about how I was disabled and how I am going to end up in prison sooner, rather than later, for "hacking."

    She also claimed I wasted time in class shopping online... when she would ask me to compare prices on things she wanted to order for the classroom (or her family's christmas presents). It ended with the most awkward meeting-that-was-all-but-an-IEP-meeting ever. My parents started laughing their asses off, along with my guidance counselor - my IEP case manager was shocked that I was not diabetic and/or mentally handicapped (She had no idea about my disabilities, it was rather annoying at times - all she knew was to copy the accommodations form at the beginning of the school year and send it to a student's teachers. I don't think she read my IEP once - until the sped head almost had to fire her because she didn't know that triennial evaluations are required)
     
  9. misswteaches

    misswteaches Companion

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    Yes. In my student teaching experience, one of my host teachers bullied his students. He would pull me aside and tell me which student was his "target" and justify it with some twisted idea of making an example of the student. Then he would put on a furiously angry demeanor and yell at the student for whatever small infraction was occurring.
    As an above poster said, there's not much you can do as student or practicum teacher. I asked him about it and expressed my discomfort, and refused to follow his example even when he asked me to. I told him I would never yell at my students that way.

    Unfortunately, though, the principal was also in charge of my evaluations and told me often that he thought my host teacher was great. I never "reported" my host teacher, but I showered the students with patience and kindness in spite of him.

    I'm not sure exactly what I would do if I were a full-time contracted teacher in that place. If I had any kind of relationship with the teacher, I might pull him/her aside and say something non-threatening like, "I noticed that you [do this behavior at these times] and I am concerned. I feel [that behavior] can sometimes be harmful to students." or "I noticed that you seem to [do this behavior ONLY to this one student]. Is there a reason for that?"
    If I couldn't speak to the teacher (or didn't think it would have any effect), I might try to privately report (if possible) or just report the individual. Teachers who bully should not be teachers.

    As a student teacher, I struggled so much with seeing the hurt, dejected faces of students after their teacher (who for some reason, they loved) yelled at them in front of the class. I couldn't help but think of the emotional damage and possibly life-threatening depression/anxiety that the teacher might be causing.
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jun 14, 2015

    Unfortunately, yes. Thankfully, that teacher has retired, although she has been volunteering in a couple of classrooms and is continuing her ways. I spent many, many hours several years ago working to build up the self-esteem of students she had targeted.
     
  11. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Jun 14, 2015

    What if the bullying is an overt threat as opposed to simply yelling and berating? Does this change how you would deal with it? Swansong, you don't have to answer this one again, and I admire and respect your actions immensely.

    Thanks for the feedback - it is important.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I would need to have specific examples of the behavior in question. Nowadays bullying is a very trendy topic, and a lot of people use that term to describe behaviors which I would describe as maybe mean or hurtful but not bullying.
     
  13. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Jun 14, 2015

    How about arm over the shoulder, almost headed to a choke hold, threatening to inflict pain, stating that he could get at the student where he lived, and this with the student corned in the room and other students present? Actually, when I put it all down in writing, I am more wondering why I didn't call the police. SPED kid, if that makes a difference, who has been bullied by other students, and he would never report them or stand up for himself, so little was done. The student turned his face away from the attacker, a look of submission, powerless. I have seen the same look on the faces of abused and mistreated dogs and horses. It is why I'm not sleeping.

    I feel the need to protect the student, who kind of has enough troubles on his plate. I would prefer to remain employed, and admin is comprised of men, which gives me pause. Many times men try to cover up the action with a simple statement that the person had it coming. Hope that helps, because I know that I must come to some decision very soon.
     
  14. bros

    bros Phenom

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    That is literal abuse. Call CPS immediately. That also violates the rights of the student per IDEA.
     
  15. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Tomorrow I will be meeting with admin on the matter. I would like to think that there are safeguards in place to protect me for coming forward and telling the truth, but I have some doubts. It isn't easy to tell on one of your own, someone who is supposed to be one of the good guys. The truth is that I love my job, and I love my students, even when they are sometimes hard to love. I have spent days in turmoil and I can't find any excuse that works for me for the behavior I witnessed. Fortunately I will not have to stand alone - another teacher was in the room at the time of the incident. I suppose we could both be fired for not coming forward immediately, but I do believe that there does seem to be a knee jerk reaction to cut a man some slack, like they are allowed to fly off the handle at times, to consider that they are the "breadwinner" of the family. I have never had a bad personal encounter with the person in question, so was caught off guard.

    Thank you for being my sounding board. I hope to sleep tonight.
     
  16. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    As to why you didn't report it immediately, the fact that you were in shock would seem to be a pretty appropriate reason. It's not ideal, but it's hard to blame somebody for needing a couple days to register exactly what happened.
     
  17. misswteaches

    misswteaches Companion

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    That is not bullying. That's assault. You would have been justified in calling the police. You should certainly report them to admin.
     
  18. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Thank you. I will be going into the meeting with literature that deals with teachers who cross the line, and my over-riding question: have teachers adopted their own wall of silence, willing to cover up certain errors and crimes, especially when shielding the use of excessive force? I find myself boiling this all down to what is intrinsically right or wrong, and knowing that although caught off guard, I can't walk away and pretend it didn't happen.

    Without taking advantage of "being in shock", in truth I was, and still may be. I only know that I have relived the incident, looked at their faces, seen the anger of the teacher and the submission of the student over and over. If I end up as a job seeker you will know that being a whistle-blower comes with a cost. However, trying to rationalize this comes with a higher cost than I can pay, so I am OK if there is a trade off. The best outcome would be counseling for the employee, as well as the student, and more recognition of this behavior as a potential problem - and I still have a job. Worst case scenario would be that my colleague and I are not believed, shunned, and essentially driven out of our jobs.

    I will keep you updated, but please, feel free to continue to share what you know. These kinds of actions love the shadows where no one is looking, and silence encourages the growth because no one "weeds" the garden. :mellow:
     
  19. misswteaches

    misswteaches Companion

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    I wish you well! I agree that protecting students is more important than having a job (if indeed a trade-off has to be made). Please do let us know what happens.

    As far as there being a "wall of silence" I think there is certainly a wall when it comes to acts of bullying and just poor treatment of students. I'd like to think, though, that no teacher would see assault like this and think it was acceptable to stay quiet.
     
  20. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Good luck with your meeting. I don't know if this will bring some peace, but your principal is legally required to investigate and respond to the information you present to him or her. Otherwise, he or she could be found negligent if something happened and the principal knew this teacher was a "loose cannon." You're doing the right thing and I hope you post an update.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Have you considered putting this into writing via e-mail so it is documented. This can help you if the administrator decides to take it upon himself to try to silence you. Otherwise, there is nothing other than your word. However, he can always deny it is true and be even more upset that it is documented. (If you choose to document it make sure you send it to yourself at your work e-mail also and print out a paper copy and keep it at home in a sealed envelope.)
     
  22. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Good luck with this meeting. Please keep us in the loop, if possible. If other students were there, you might want to come armed with a list of who was in the room.
     
  23. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Yes, other students were present. We passed on all of the particulars, and have been assured that they will take it from here. My colleague and I were of two different minds about how soon to tell admin, with me more impulsive, do it now. I certainly could understand the reasons that countered my first instinct, so it waited over the weekend. I believe that waiting was not a good thing, but that is what it is. Do I have concerns that the teacher in question will retaliate? Yes, despite everyone's best intentions, I do think that is a possibility. As of now, the buck has been passed up the food chain, so we will see what we will see. In a perfect world, I believe that setting the wheels in motion on this within hours would trump any waiting. This isn't, however, a perfect world. We moved forward with the complaint, but we can't possibly be the only ones who have seen this behavior, so where are those submissions? Only time will tell if this makes a difference, either in how I am regarded, or how the student is treated.

    Would I do it again? Yes - I live my life on the principles that I believe in. I will let you know if I am suddenly terminated, etc. I am hoping that doesn't happen, but stranger things have happened.

    Thank you for the feedback and for sharing with me. Sometimes, in the midst of our busy lives, we can still manage to feel vulnerable and isolated, and then we doubt ourselves. You guys have been a lifeline. :hugs:
     
  24. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jun 15, 2015

    Lynettstoy,

    It took great courage to do what you did. I hope things work out well for you, your co-worker, and the students involved. Thank you for standing up for the students.
     
  25. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    You did the right thing. If you have a union I would talk with the president (probably leaving out the name of the teacher involved) to give them a heads up about the situation. I am sure you are documenting the incident and anything from here on out.
     
  26. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    And the one lesson that I hope everyone takes from this is to document, as Missy has pointed out. Everything, the times, who was there. Be factual, try to hold off on the opinions, and my one regret is not making a split second decision, just because this was so stressful to me. I think I would have dealt with it better without the longer decision process. In this case, however, my colleague needed the time to be comfortable with what had to be done, so all is well. I would act quicker, however, in the future. Thanks, guys, for caring.
     
  27. Rox

    Rox Cohort

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    I had a para who was a bully. She was smart, because she would do everything she could to anger you, but not violate any policies. I documented everything for 3 months, which turned into a 75-page document. Everyone in the whole building feared her. It was horrible. After I turned in the documentation, she was transferred to another site.

    I knew of a teacher that was abusive to students and staff, but I'm not sure if it would be considered bullying. I only saw one incident, but heard of many others. I reported her to the state child abuse hotline. It was investigated, but nothing ever came of it. She eventually quit.
     
  28. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    One last follow-up. Our bully has been sent home, don't know for how long, but everything under investigation. The students most impacted will not be exposed to this teacher through ESY program, something I am pleased to see put in place.

    No one, or certainly not me, sets out to interfere with another's livelihood, but ultimately you have to choose to protect the students first, let the adults who should know better make their own way, learn from their own mistakes. I am slowly returning to a full night's sleep, although last night was filled with turmoil. I think that the mind simply has to process and evaluate the situation from many perspectives, so maybe tonight will be a better night.

    For every teacher who thinks "I could never snitch (report, rat out, tell on, etc.) a colleague", I urge you to consider what it would feel like if a young person committed suicide, dropped out of school, refused to go to a particular class, or even just carried the emotional scars for a lifetime and you could have helped prevent those consequences, but didn't.

    Hard, fearful, hurting, angry, sad - those are some of the emotions, but seeing the targeted student smiling and laughing in class truly is - priceless.
     
  29. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Jun 18, 2015

    You ABSOLUTELY did the right thing, and I'm so glad you're being taken seriously.
     
  30. misswteaches

    misswteaches Companion

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    I'm glad that action is being taken. I absolutely agree with you -- I would much rather report on a teacher/school staff and see jobs lost, even mine, than see a student lose their life or their happiness.
     
  31. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I'm glad you did what you did. I had a generally positive school experience, but my two biggest memories are of teachers who treated me terribly in front of others. I won't go so far as to say bullying, but it involved public humiliation and intimidation. This was first and fifth grades. My point is, incidents such as what you described, even if isolated, can stay with a student forever. I can still hear the words, feel the burn of humiliation...it makes me ill.
     

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