being me, reflection

When Teachers Bully Teachers

image from icanread

Three years ago, I wrote an anonymous post and asked a friend to post it for me.  The story was burning up inside of me, but at the time I was too scared to publish it because I was in the middle of the situation, and terrified that it would only get worse.  Yet I knew that there had to be others out there like me, who were going through the same situation, who felt so all alone just like I did.  

Today I choose to reclaim my past as I leave my old district and school and venture forward, it is time to take back the power that this situation had over me.  It is time to move on and away from the past.  It is time to tell the story of what can happen when teachers bully teachers.

The year I got hired at my school my mentor moved away.  I was eager, ready to learn, and most of all ready to form a team.  Unfortunately I was the third wheel to a two-some that had been together for some years and had gone through some pretty heavy-duty stuff.  They switched classes, they knew each other like the back of their hand, and I was the puppy always trailing behind, hoping they would throw me a bone.  It wasn’t that they excluded me, I just don’t think I knew how to fit.   After a while, I decided to go on my own, after all, my students were waiting for me to teach them and not having a team was not going to be a good enough excuse to fail my kids.  So I forged on, challenging myself and hoping that one day my team would find space for me.  That year I was by myself through difficult parent situations and difficult student situations.  I ate lunch in my classroom because no one sat with me in the staff lounge.  It wasn’t that they didn’t like me, they just didn’t have time for me.  Instead other teachers were busy pointing out how I was a favorite since the principal spent so much time in my room.  They didn’t realize that the reason he was in there was because I invited him just so I had someone to help me that first year.  I didn’t realize how I was viewed until later in the year I was pulled into my principal’s office to be reprimanded for having said “Have a nice weekend” in the hallways.  I was told that someone had complained about me since I should be thankful I had a job and not look forward to the weekend so much.  In fact, it was later included in my formal observation that I should know my place more.  Stunned, I asked who it was, but was refused an answer.  I left that conversation wondering who would want to get me into trouble over something so trivial well knowing that it could have been many people.  I felt so alone.

I heard the rumors about why I was hired (because of my looks), I heard how I was the favorite and was therefore given easy classes, extra things for my room, and basically had a free pass.  I cried about it, got angry, tried to discourage the principal from coming into my room.  It didn’t help.  He stopped coming but the rumors continued.  The whispers as I walked by in the hallway, the icy stares, the unreturned hello’s.  The social isolation would have made any mean girl proud. So I got really quiet and tried to keep to myself, finding a couple of people I could trust, continuously trying to reach out to my team, hoping that someone would take pity on me.   Few did, after all, I had done it to myself.

Once more I ended up in the principal’s office; this time a teacher had turned me in for disagreeing with a veteran teacher in a small meeting.  I was written up for being disrespectful and not knowing my place.  Again I asked who had come to the principal and was given no answer.  It was not in my best interest to know and I should be happy that there were not more severe consequences.  It was even put in my formal observation for the year, my permanent record, and I had to submit an apology to the teacher, who by the way, was not the one who had complained about me.  Instead I was told to keep my mouth shut, know my place, and try to get people to like me. The ignorance of my principal that he, in fact, had anything to do with the fact that people despised me was more than I could take.  I started to contemplate moving but decided that I wanted to stay to try to make a difference, to change the attitude, rather than to let them run me out.

This year I knew was going to be a challenge.  One powerful teacher, in particular, had become the ring leader of my hate group.  She complained about me to anyone that would listen, including my fledgling team, parents, and, of course, the principal.  For some reason she had power and people listened. I knew that some of my more unorthodox ideas such as limiting grades and homework were really going to upset people, particularly some veteran teachers who already disliked me, she being one of them.   And yet, I knew I had to keep growing as a teacher whether people hated me or not because after all how bad could it get?  I would always have my principal or so I thought, instead I didn’t.  He left me alone because he was told by senior teachers that they knew I was his favorite and how hurtful it was to them.  So instead I became isolated, fending for myself.  Thank goodness for a couple of good friends, my husband,  and Twitter or I would have lost it.

Throughout this process I have been forced to look in the mirror again and again.  Am I those things that people claim?  Am I a person not to be trusted because the principal is my confidante, because I am his favorite?  Will my students fail because of me?  Will they not be prepared for the rest of their school years because of what I did to them?  I have had to reflect and tear myself apart as I wonder; did I do this to myself?  Sure, there have been days I have not been proud of, days where I should have kept my opinion to myself, or tread more lightly.  Yet there has also been so many days where I did not deserve the treatment I was given, where even after extra effort, people just did not care, did not believe, did not want their minds changed.  I also question myself; is this all in my head?  Have I created the awkwardness, the silence, the people passing by my door rather than coming in?  Then I realize that it did happen, that the rumors were spread, those hushed conversations, those scoldings really did happen.  Perhaps I could have done more but I guess I will never know if it would have changed anything.  I know I have not been a perfect team member, I know I have made mistakes, but I have also tried to do my best.  I have been open, eager, welcoming, and ready to share.  And yet somehow all of this was not enough,

So what has this year been like?  Like the worst high school experience, the only thing missing has been being locked in a locker or having my car keyed.  All year I have fought comments about how awful I am as a teacher and how dare I challenge what veteran teachers are doing.  I have been told that other teachers worry about my students since I am not teaching right or even preparing them well.  I have been told that I need to know my place over and over and that no one likes me.  I have been told that no one wants to be on my team and that I am giving the school a bad name.  I have been called selfish, delusional, and ineffective.  I have been called a bad teacher.  So this year I have cried, vented to close friends and just tried to rise above it.  I know what is best for my kids.  I know that I am good teacher.  And yet, I am worn down.

It is funny; I have lied so many times about how supportive my school is of me, that I sometimes start to believe it.  My principal was supportive, in secret, my special ed teacher, ELL teacher, and a few friends were, but that is really it.  Some teachers have not cared, which was a welcome relief or just outright told me how they feel.  The powerful teacher told me that she is genuinely worried for my students since she does not feel they will be successful next year and that I shouldn’t be allowed to teach.  At least this time she said it to my face rather than behind my back.

So a couple of weeks ago, I did the unthinkable, I applied for a transfer to another school.  After a secret meeting was called to discuss how the principal cannot be trusted and the powerful teacher cried about how she was the victim at our school, I thought; enough.  I don’t want to be the scapegoat anymore.  I don’t want to be in a place where success is not celebrated.  Where challenges are not desired. This is not me.  I love teaching and I want to teach for many years to come, but I cannot go to work in a place where I am not welcomed.  Where I am blamed for things I have nothing to do with, where people feel they have a free pass to tell me how they really feel about me and my teaching style without even knowing anything.  So I am leaving, and my heart is lighter, and yet I feel like a coward.

I feel like I should stay and fight for change like I have been the last 3 years.  Like I shouldn’t rock the boat.  But I can’t stay, it will devour me if I do.  When I pressed send on that email letting my employee coordinator know that I wanted to transfer, I felt the biggest weight lift.  And then I felt tears.  These years of being hated, of not knowing who to trust or who to confide in has taken their toll.  It will be a long time before I try to have a close relationship with my principal, in fear of being labeled, I will have a hard time trusting team mates.  Too many times the accusations came from the team I was supposed to have and the protection did not come from my leader.

Postscript – I didn’t leave.  I never got any of the transfers but instead received a phone call late one night.  It was the ring leader calling to apologize.  I still remember her words telling me that she knew she had done me wrong, that she had been a bully, that she had prayed about it, and she was sorry.  In fact, she was so sorry that she had decided to leave the school (not just because of me).  She asked me if I could forgive her and although I should have said yes, I told her I didn’t know.  The damage she had done to me was so raw that I couldn’t think of forgiveness at this moment, I still don’t know if I could.  So I stayed and I became a 5th grade teacher and found a team, one that might have thought I was a bit crazy, but still supported me.  One that taught me that we can all get along, that there is room for all sorts of teaching, and that there are ways to discuss our differences.  I stayed three more years until my heart called for a new challenge and a new district.  Which is where I stand today, poised at the edge of a new adventure, hoping that this never happens to another teacher.

I am a passionate  teacher in Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

132 thoughts on “When Teachers Bully Teachers”

  1. Jeez Pernille, your story feels so damn similar to mine. It’s heartbreaking when you don’t have that support. Last week I felt like giving up on teaching altogether because I constantly feel like my ideas for change and improvement of the school are being shot down and not listened to. I’m a new teacher and there is a deep ingrained culture in our school where a lot of our teachers are expupils. There is one head teacher who consistently undermines me and makes me feel not good enough. I suppose it’s a blessing she isn’t in my class very often. I had that experience in my first year of teaching though at another school. I don’t understand why those in positions of seniority feel threatened by new teachers or why there is so much resistance to change. Everything I do I try to make class better for my students. So thankful for Twitter. Would never have found my amazing PLN who keep me grounded along with a few of the staff who see what I see. Luckily I do have a few on my team who will back me but there are so many who are scared to change themselves or risk “rocking the boat” in fear of being attacked themselves. Thanks again for your post. Truly appreciate your honesty. Nga mihi nui ki a koe. A huge thankyou to you (Te Reo Maori).

  2. Hi, Pernille. I read your blog with resigned dismay. I am a high school Chemistry teacher, you know, one of those subjects that schools are usually desperate to fill. However, I am from the UK, where schools don’t have the kind of autonomy they have here, nor the resulting power play politics. Lots of people ask me why I don’t want to teach in this country. Well, just everything you wrote. I have heard it, time and time again and, frankly, I’m too old and too snarky to kow-tow to any jumped up little jobsworth who thinks they’re better than me. Because I can teach and it’s not about who I brown-nose up to in the staffroom or on the leadership team, it’s who I can inspire, enthuse and motivate in my classroom. Everyone else, be buggered. I think that attitude will get me written up the first day I am there, though…

    I am glad you had a better experience later and are now moving on to exciting new pastures!

    1. I just had to weigh in-after reading Pernille’s *terrible* experiences as a new teacher, I turned to my husband and said I once again appreciated how lucky I had been so far with my principles and colleagues. I changed careers from being a research engineer and technology team leader for 20 years to teaching high school chemistry. I delayed that change for a number of years EXACTLY because I had the fears you speak of…I want to encourage you that it is NOT that way everywhere…I have taught at two public inner city high schools and one Roman Catholic all girls private school…all very different…all working with folks who celebrated the changes I sought to implement, shared their wisdom, experiences and lessons, encouraged me and had my back. I have had no regrets leaving the autonomy of my corporate technical job for a role as a teacher.

  3. OMG. This story hit my heart and head like a ton of bricks! I was also bullied by a group of teachers, but I stayed for 7 years. It has taken a toll on my health as well as on my family. I too know I am a good teacher, but I was treated like I would never fit in. I am working on my masters now and am at home awaiting another back surgery. In my master’s program I chose to do a research project about teachers bullying teachers. It was awful reading about how much this happens and how it is done in secret. The victims get blamed for all of it while the bullies look good. It broke my heart doing the research because I knew I was one of those people they discussed. I also knew my health and emotional welfare suffered. I felt like no one saw the bullying, and I knew it was happening. The research opened my eyes and gave me comfort as I discovered it was not me after all. I am not perfect either, but I know I always try to treat people with respect. One of those teachers told me I did too much for others and that was a problem. Really? Since when did reaching out to help others become such a crime? Thank you so much for sharing this! I would like to get together as I have some ideas about how to stop this type of behavior.Please contact me.

  4. Oh, and I too used to be afraid to say anything, but now, I wish I had done something. I am not afraid anymore because I know what truly went on in my school.

  5. Yes, this DOES happen in schools AND in churches of all places. Blessings to you for many wonderful teaching years ahead.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story! This happens so much in education and teachers feel like they can’t say anything about it. For some reason, we feel that we need to “play nice” and take it. Hopefully sharing your story will help others to speak up and say that this is wrong.

  7. I have read many of your Twitter posts and blog posts over the years. You ARE a good teacher. If you weren’t, you would not experiment and reach out to others.

    Thank you for sharing your story, Pernelle. It’s an important reminder that as long as we’re working to help kids, we can have different methods, and we should be less judgmental of one another. Different teachers reach different kids. I’ve seen that in my own experience.

    Best of luck in your new challenge, and I hope I’m able to one day shake your hand in person.

  8. If you are feeling bullied at school by colleagues, know that it does get better. I was bullied for 4 years. The group of teachers took the lunchroom elsewhere because I stood up for the students. I didn’t confront them because I was told “teachers want to vent” and “let them be.”

    Then I stood up for myself to a person I had thought was my friend. The next year and its ups and downs, but many colleagues made it known that our “professional” relationships (or lack thereof) was hurting the school. The principal stopped ignoring the situation, I stood up for myself while maintaining a respectful, yet assertive tone, and I became stronger.

    This past year wasn’t perfect, the bullies are still on campus, but their number is getting smaller.

  9. All I can take from this is how you’ve grown from that. You’re an amazing teacher, the only difference now is that everyone knows it. As long as you believe it, it can be true. Keep being who you are and do what you’re doing. Thank you for sharing your story.

  10. Thank you for sharing. I wonder how teacher bullies are allowed to exist in a school environment where we impress on children the importance of treating others respectfully. The last month of school for me was horrible. My experience was corrupted by a bully, whose actions are not condemned and whose voice of negativity and disrespect has had too much power. It is frustrating that when there are so many incredibly talented teachers and amazing supervisors, that the voice of the bully is the loudest and the one seemingly listened to most.

    I am thankful the year is over only because I can put the anger and negativity behind me and focus on my personal growth and that of my students.

    Best of luck to you in your new endeavor!

  11. So familiar. August. 2012, I knew something didn’t feel right, yet I couldn’t get anyone to talk to me about what was going on. I was an outsider, didn’t belong to a group. My job was “intervention specialist” and it entailed saving the kids and the teachers who did not understand children,, not to mention the data work, the presentations,the administration who dictated jobs via principals, and the snide remarks about “not” doing my job. The stress has taken a toll on my health, my heart, my spirit and my mind. I’m broken and I still cry, still feel betrayed and still angry that I didn’t take a stand with the people who weren’t sucked by the others who fed their ego.

  12. As a teacher at a university, trust me, I know how you feel. When I go to the PhDs for advice, or questions, I get put down or ignored. I would love to work on a doctorate, but I don’t have the money or time right now. And would it change me,so that I looked down on people with only Masters or Bachelors degrees? If that is the case, then maybe I don’t want one.
    I have good ideas, and even have received good press for a class I started on campus. Now I want to start a new class, and can get no help. So I work around them, and I go on about my way without help.

  13. Hello,
    I suggest looking at the research that is out there on this very subject. This is more common then people realize and often goes without officially reporting to the affirmative action officer in fear of reprimand and retaliation. The moral of your story is no matter how bad a situation is, things happen for a reason and ultimately you will go back and reflect on how your experience has made you stronger. One word of advice, regardless of who or what anyone says, always focus on the students because they are why you are there. Life pushes you to limits you never expected to experience in order to build strength and resiliency–which will ultimately make you a better person and professional–learning what not to do.
    Wishing you the best.

  14. Thank you for sharing your story. It touched my heart in more ways than one. I too have been bullied for the past 7 years. This year it reached the point of a colleague’s husband threatening me by text. As I look back, I realized I should have acted and reported things sooner. I did not report the harassment and bullying right away to my administration, I was embarrassed and thought, next year things would be different It was never different. I documented it all and continue to do so. I decided to report it recently because I honestly dread entering my building. I often think about crashing my car so I don’t have to deal with their mean looks, rumors, exclusions and the isolation. I continue to pray and hope for God to answer my prayers. Your story really helped me because it is the first time I am discussing it with others (aside from my husband, a few friends and administration). Thank you for your courage and for speaking out on a topic that many want to sweep under the rug. May God Bless you Always.

  15. It is amazing that there are so many of us that have been bullied by colleagues! We’re talking adults that should know better. In my situation, as an adult, I was excluded from part of the team, my ideas were not considered and so on. I felt so discouraged and worthless that I can’t imagine how students who are bullied every day cope with it. It looks like we have to address the issue of bullying, not only with the students, but with the teachers…..the ones that should know better.
    I’m sorry for your experience and those of the others. Thank you for writing this.

  16. I, too, was bullied. I was involuntarily transferred to another school in my district. My first year at that school, I was assigned to the converted shop room with no heat or air conditioning and next to the auto shop that had students out of control. I was also assigned the worst students in the school. That first year was a nightmare. To top it all off my husband was unemployed, I was working on my masters’ and I had 2 young children at home.

    Fast forward 2 years. I was moved to a more suitable room and volunteered to teach a new class. The district decided that all math teachers need to be trained for this class and the teachers that were teaching this class would be the trainers. I walked through the lunch room after the first training. I had thought the training had gone well, but I was harassed by the veteran teachers about the food that was served at the training and the fact that they HAD to attend the training. I walked out of the lunchroom and and stayed away for several years.

    Fast forward 2 more years. One of the lunchroom teachers told me that what I was wearing looked horrible and I should never where it again in front of others. It was a teacher workday and I never dressed up for those because I had to set up the computer lab and I was crawling all over the floor. Then during that same school year, I was in the lunchroom cleaning up after a school goody day. I asked him for help and he told me that it was women’s work.

    Fast forward 2 more years. I was finally assigned a Trigonometry class. The same teachers that harassed me in the lunch room called me into a meeting after school. I was told that I had the covered all of the trig topics, I graded too easy, and basically I did not know what I was doing. I asked for help, but the more experienced teachers did not have time to help me. I walked out of the meeting and told the department I no longer wanted to teach trigonometry. I was now in trouble because I opted out of trigonometry.

    Fast forward a few more years. The teacher that had refused to help clean up is now department chair. He would call me out in front of students and teachers on multiple occasions. Of course, I was the one in the wrong. I finally learned to have another teacher with me as a witness when I spoke with him because no one would believe me when I would tell them what happened.

    the second year he was department chair, he assigned me 5 preps, when everyone else in the department had 2 preps or maybe three. I asked the the department chair if he could please take one of the preps away. He essentially said it was not possible. One of the teachers sitting with him looked at him and said “There must be something you can do.” I finally took it to the principal and he agreed with me. I also asked him not to mention that I had spoken with him. I was reduced to 4 preps. After that incident I tried unsuccessfully to transfer to another school.

    He finally retired. My life has been so much less stressful. The other teachers from the lunchroom have retired except for one. The last one is now on the hot seat and guess who is the one assisting her? Me! I guess what goes around comes around.

    Oh yes, I was named “Teacher of the Year” for my school 2 years ago.

  17. As I read this post, I identified with the hurt, rejection, lack of support and emotionally draining behavior from fellow teachers. I’m thankful you were able to find a way to overcome and experience success moving forward. Thank you for sharing your story to bring awareness and encouragement to those still struggling! #KeepInspiring!

  18. Wow, reading your story put me right back where I was a few years ago. Thank you for sharing…this is all too common in schools. You think that educators are warm and caring people, who are in this field to help others, but it can be a cutthroat situation. Luckily for me, I have found my home, but I had to bounce around quite a bit for the first few years. I blogged a little about it here: http://sarahdateechur.blogspot.com/2013/10/sarahdateechinghuman-on-life-cycle-of.html?m=1. But you are far more brave than I am lol. I didn’t give nearly as many details. I’m glad things are better for you now.

  19. Oh my gosh–this is amazing to read. I, too, was bullied. It was when I taught 6th grade. Leaving the profession was investigated, but I ended up having the opportunity to move to a different building to teach 5th. It was like entering a different world. Someone asked me months into 5th “What’s it like teaching here vs there?” My answer “Teaching there is cold moldy bread. Teaching here is a warm bowl of soup.” It felt like I was sprinkled with happiness dust on my first trip in. And I was the exact same person. Thank you for sharing.

  20. I know exactly how you feel! I left a great school where the teachers were supportive and friendly for what I thought was my dream job. After eight years of bullying, back stabbing and being left out of the group, I will be retiring at the end of the 2014-15 school year. My dream job has been a nightmare due to the “mean girl” mentality of people in the department I thought I would love.

  21. I’ve posted on here a few days ago. I too am being bullied and have been for 6yrs. My administrators know and I’ve spoken to the district’s attorney. I’ve documented it all. At the end of this yr. the bullying escalated. A colleague’s husband threatened me via text. My Superintendent wants me to decided on leaving the grade I teach (and love) for a different school/grade. I work in a very small district, everyone knows each other. I need to decide by Wed. I don’t know what to do. I have been teaching there for almost 14 yrs, and built the curriculum and truly love my grade, I love first graders! I understand their concerns (safety). Why should I have to be the one to move? It just doesn’t seem right or fair. Any ideas, thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I want the bullying to stop, but I also want to teach a grade I greatly enjoy. I am truly torn.

  22. You are an amazing and positive teacher Pernille. I know this because we enjoy a lovely friendship. You are always careful and kind with your words. I never realized you had such a difficult time. Thank you for your willingness to always help me and patiently show me how to do new things. You are one of my very favorite teachers in the whole world!

  23. Bullying takes different forms as well: purposeful exclusion, gossiping “behind closed doors,” baiting other staff members to act as spies or informants… oh yes. The year I was hired at my latest district (military spouse, traveling with solider husband), a fellow colleague (whose name and grade I hadn’t yet learned) dropped by my room to give me a heads up that I might want to “watch my back” because colleagues were complaining about me to our principal. Quickly apologizing, I tried to figure out what I had done, but also made a mental note of which folks came straight to the horse’s mouth (mine) and which smiled and actively avoided me like the plague.

    When my husband deployed for a year, my mentor and I were taking a stroll down the hallway during prep when she ~cheerfully~ asked “So, if _______ were to be injured or killed in Iraq, you’d probably move back to your home state, since that’s where your support group, friends and family are, right?” BIG SMILE. Cheshire cat expression. Oh yes, she wanted me gone, and having my husband maimed or killed during war was a pleasant possibility for her to entertain.

    It’s hard for outsiders to entertain the thought that there might be truth to teacher drama, that some of us, as respected professionals, feel entitled to behave so badly. That entitlement needs to stop, and administrators need to address the truly intentional and corrosive behaviors that folks who ought to know better continue to demonstrate.

  24. Thank you so much for your post. It is so brave of you to share and I hope it brings you some healing. I can relate to much of your experience and luckily it is all in my past. Working with my current colleagues has changed my life. I have never felt more free to soar, supported, and inspired by others. I love going to work….to see my team. You contribute so much to those around you. I hope you find a supportive space in your transition. Wishing you the best.

  25. Thanks for sharing! Wow!! I thought I was the only person to experience isolation. The difference is I’m a great teacher and they knew it. They couldn’t stop my effectiveness or the students love for me so they searched for outside of school into my personal life. I received a verbal reprimand. Unbelievable! I had never had a single blemish on my record before. I felt disappointed and furious! I put God on the job; the battle was no longer mine. He removed me and greater things are coming for me.

  26. Thanks Pernille for sharing your experience and showing that people can move beyond such behaviour. I think what you have described is “mobbing” and happens not only in schools and universities but within non profits, local government and business. Mobbing is sometimes referred to as “psychological terrorism” which I believe it is a very apt name. I

    I found reading these two books incredibly helpful in understanding my experience of mobbing and would recommend them both for targets of workplace bullying.

    Books – “Overcoming Mobbing” Maureen Duffy and Les Sperry – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Overcoming-Mobbing-Recovery-Workplace-Aggression-ebook/dp/B00GSRWJ0S/ref=kinw_dp_ke

    “Mobbed – A Survival Guide” Janet Harper http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mobbed-Survival-Guide-Bullying-Mobbing-ebook/dp/B00ERMBY84

    Two excellent articles are: An overview of mobbing in the workplace http://www.examiner.com/article/an-overview-of-mobbing-the-workplace via @examinercom

    http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/12/28/bullying-at-work-workplace-mobbing-is-on-the-rise/

    Best wishes for a wonderful future, both for you and all the children whose lives you touch.

    1. Sometimes the admins are part of the problem. Big boys clubs start and they join, or start them, or encourage them. I truly don’t know what happens behind the scenes. I’m just glad it’s behind me. I’m in the same district, but another building. If I wasn’t able to switch, I’d not have been teaching for the past 12 years. The only explanation I’ve ever heard is they are jealous. Yes, I’m a good teacher, but so are they, so that never made sense to me. It was so very painful.

  27. Bullying does not just happen to teachers…it also happens to the subs! I have been so frustrated with the attitudes of teachers toward substitutes. I understand that there are bad subs…but not all of us are terrible!

    1. I am shocked at what I’ve heard at school recently. One of the recess monitors told me they all hope they’ll get my class. I asked why because they aren’t always easy. She said, it’s not the class, it’s me. She said I am nice to them. I was shocked and asked why wouldn’t someone be nice to you??? She rolled her eyes and said “oh the stories I could tell.” I never heard any, but I don’t get it. When I have a sub, I tell the kids–and the sub–that if he/she leaves a name of a student who made the day difficult, the student earns two recesses in the Support Room–no questions asked. I tell the sub is the adult–and whatever is written in their note is law. Period.

  28. Thank you for sharing this. As we start out optimistic and idealistic with our own ideas – it is soul crushing when we realize not everyone will support us. You have addressed an important, unfortunate issue. We should be building each other up, supporting one another – even if our ideas are different. We are supposed to be there for the children, not for pettiness. Kudos to you and this post!

  29. I read your post with horror. I am so sorry you had such a terrible experience. After teaching for thirty years, I went to work as a technical writer in a pharmaceutical manufacturing company. The bullies there somehow managed to keep working their way higher and higher in the company. They made our lives miserable, but somehow they kept moving up and up.

  30. Today I remembered that I, too, was bullied. There was a particularly mean teacher who picked on younger women in the English department. She was quite rude to two of us, even though we were more than polite and kind to her. She was actually mean to many people, but she saved her vitriol for the two of us. Eventually, she got mad about something and turned in her resignation. Later, she asked for it back, but the principal said not. Life was easier after that.

  31. I read and saved your article. This happens so much in schools and at work places. You were a new teacher, however; I have been working in this school for three years. A new teacher came and she has no respect for the teacher, who is much older than her. She treats me like dirt. I am so frustrated because she glares, gives insulting remark, or just ignores. I just don’t know how to deal with her. She is half my age and bullies me around.

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your experience, it sounds like there is a real breakdown in communication. My firtst advice would be to speak to the person, sometimes we treat others in way that is unintended and need someone to holdup a mirror. If the person continues, then I would get administration involved. No one deserves to be treated with disrespect, no matter how old they are.

  32. Thank you so much for posting this insight into your experience. I just finished my first year of teaching and had a similar experience. I was the outsider, a city girl in a small town. For me, it was sadly my mentor teacher that was my “opponent”. It makes me glad to see that I’m not alone in this experience and that it didn’t discourage you from quitting teaching. Again, thank you for sharing your story.

  33. Thank you thank you thank you! I have spent the last 3 years in the same place! At first I thought I was crazy and ignored it but this last year I suffered so many write ups and memos about me being a bad teacher I began to believe it! I know I am not and those who know me and have worked with me in the past have told me that I am a great teacher. I would have left if I could have but being a single mom of a teen has prevented me from being able to venture into anything else – plus I love these kids and they need me. My bully has not been another teacher but a paraprofessional that is evil to the core. She tattles on everything that I do and it is never the whole story, she has set me up, she has point blank told me to my face she will not do what I ask her to do but acts like she never said that when asked by the principal and the principal believes her, she has been caught giving answers to students on tests and when I said something I was written up for talking badly about our school. Side note- my students were the ones who complained about the last one because she not only told them the answer but forced them to change their answer and it was the wrong one. I was advocating for them and I would do it again and again but I am afraid of everyone at my school. I never know who to trust and the only ones I did left this summer so I am ever more frightened of this year and what will happen since my only support has left. I am grateful that I read your article I feel there is hope and I know I am not alone! Thank you so much!

    1. I am so sorry that this has been happening to you. I posted this post because I wanted people to know that they were not alone, that it can happen to anyone, and that there is hope for those of us who have experienced it. I hope your year turns out ok. I hope you find someone that will be in your corner. Otherwise, I would look for other opportunities if at all possible.

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