Teachers Vs Bullying
Moodiness, withdrawing from family and friends, not wanting to talk about school, anxiety and loss of appetite are signs of bullying. These are drilled into our heads on a regular basis by schools, news & even our peers. We are quick to run to teachers when our fears become a reality, which is completely understandable as we all want to protect our children, but that's the point. As soon as we mention the word bullying, many of us automatically presume we're talking about the issues we get in the playground. We never really consider that in fact it may be the educators under scrutiny. The news of a teachers death in the UK this week has brought huge shock and heartbreak, incidents such as this should never arise and I'm sure I speak for myself and a number of others when I say that although there seems to be no significant rise in violence in schools, it has hugely highlighted the dangers that teachers can face.
There are thousands of cases of teachers being bullied across the country, school students AND their parents can be extremely intimidating when they are not satisfied with a grade, or when the need to discipline arises. Unfortunately, it is not being recognised as much as it’s younger counterpart, but we need to realise that the results can be just as detrimental. Take for example the fact that every day I work in supply, I see many teachers struggling to create relationships with not only the schools, but the children also. It's hard when you're constantly moving, you're never quite settled and it's new faces and attitudes every day. I remember from my own school days that if our teachers were ill, it gave us the opportunity to act up, and now I realise the stupidity of this. We as children forget that adults are human beings, but unfortunately we are impulsive. It's become 'cool' to answer the teacher back, to play up for attention and to show that your definitely not a teachers pet, thus bullying begins...
"Many teachers who experience bullying at work simply leave; others detach so much from their work that their students suffer."
Social media and much of today's technology has also provided people will tools to vent their anger. Although it brings much opportunity, the rise in cyber bullying is also a huge concern. Unfortunately it's not uncommon for teachers to be on the receiving end of this. Derogatory comments are made, pages set up and plenty of other students are invited in to offer their own view points on how they feel about their educators. Much of this is done purely in the heat of the moment, acting before thinking. Networking sites are the perfect platform to express opinion without haven't to face the consequences, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and many others offer the option of “free speech” at the expense of someone’s feelings, in this case, the personal and professional life of their teachers.
With this in mind, we've decided to offer our pointers on how to reduce these instances of bullying, or ways to nip them in the bud before or whilst they are unfortunately occurring:
1. Do NOT mix personal and professional life. It seems pretty obvious but it can easily happen. Keep your friends on social networking sites to the people that you associate with outside of the school gates, thus making your family, home, background information to a minimum. If you want to interact with your pupils and feel this is beneficial, have a separate social media account for your professional communications, that way you have the best of both worlds but keep your private life safe.
2. Research yourself. Google, yahoo and other popular search engines provide plenty of routes for you to find your name (if used) on the internet. If you find inappropriate footage or comments about you or another teacher then please report them, it's very likely that the site administrators will then act on this and get rid. Looking yourself up on the internet could also help you to distinguish how much information about your life has been distributed, if there confidential or personal facts on there that you wish to keep private, then again contact the owner or creator of the page, or if it's on something such as Facebook, you can edit what is displayed yourself.
3. Passwords, pass codes. On your laptop, phone, tablet, ipad, emails, computers and anything else that children can get their hands on. This evening goes for any social media pages that you wish to register with. Pop locks and private settings on all these platforms. Okay, it may seem a little drastic at times and we're not saying you have to follow these procedures, but just keep it to a minimum. There's nothing worse than making the most of your bank holiday weekend and it unfortunately managing to find its way on to Twitter for your pupils to come across.
4. The crumpled paper trick. It's a well known lesson, but has effective reactions. It goes without saying that you must try and teach all your classes the affects that bullying has on it's victims. My favourite trick is to get every pupil to take a piece of paper and write an insult on it with pencil then take it and screw it up. After doing so, get each and every one of them to unfold it and rub the comment out, thus showing that although name calling and nastiness can be taken back, the crumples will still remain. These types of activities will hopefully encourage your students to understand how vital it is to respect one and other, even if it changes the mind of one, it's made a difference.
5. Advice. It's so easy to give it, but sometimes harder to seek. If you do find yourself in a position of bullying, then it's vital you confide in someone you trust or work with. If people do not know, they cannot help and something such as this can be dealt with if it get's into the right hands. Protecting educators from Cyber Bullying works best when it is done within a prevention framework. If your school does not already have practices in place to combat online bullying, consider talking to the head administrators about enacting anti-bullying policies and also appointing a task force to record, investigate and resolve instances of Cyber Bullying.
Teachers, use your natural inclination to educate all on the affects of bullying. Fighting for a teachers happiness is fighting for a students, it's fighting for lessons and a good education.If you do find yourself in this sort of predicament then please seek help & action, what you do is good work and it needs to be protected and cherished.