Vulnerability and the Unspoken Problem of Teacher Bullying
I was chatting with a colleague about the values of vulnerability in our teaching and with our teams when the conversation took a surprising turn. It got me wondering... how many teachers don't feel safe enough to share their mess-ups, errors or faults (being vulnerable) at their schools?
There is a lot of talk about vulnerability across all industries these days. We know what it is, but do we practice it in education? Do we make it safe for our teachers to be real with each other and their students? Is it possible in education to regularly make ourselves vulnerable? It depends.
Here's the deal....
Vulnerability can be liberating. It's wonderful to be honest and admit we don't have all the answers. It's good for our students to see we make mistakes every day and how we handle that. But sometimes and in some situations, vulnerability can feel really unsafe. In some instances, it can expose us to ridicule or threaten our jobs.
There are teachers who work in districts, schools or on teams where vulnerability simply isn't safe.
Vulnerability sounds good, but bullying happens in schools all the time (and I'm not talking about students bullying students). There are teachers that are victims of bullying every day just as there are parents, administrators and teachers who bully teachers every day. There are many parents, teachers and administrators who regularly look and speak with disdain, judgement and just plain meanness toward (and about) teachers in their schools.
Unfortunately, teacher bullying is real.
It doesn't happen in every school, but it happens somewhere in almost every district. The reality is, it happens more than we want to admit.
Like many bullying situations, victims are often afraid to speak up or are ignored when they do. Let's be real, schools and districts worry about public image and bad press just like any other business does. This can cause problems to be hidden, unreported or denied instead of dealt with.
Shining a light in the darkness.
So what can we do? Honestly, the only way to stop evil is to bring the evil into the light. The reality is until the evil is brought into the light, it will continue. The victims may change, but the problem doesn't go away.
Let's face it. Problems are going to occur in our schools simply because humans are fallible. But, we also have great capacity for doing good. Let's tap into that goodness and stand up against evil. It's time to speak up, support each other and stop the bullying.
Impossible? Even better! I don't know about you, but I love tackling impossible. If you know a teacher that is being bullied, stand with them and help them speak the truth out loud. We all deserve to teach in a safe place, to feel connected and valued and to be joyful in our work.
Want to connect with other teachers? Join our newly launched The Teaching Lab, a Private Facebook Group for Christian K-6 Teachers.