Does the behavior of someone at work make you feel humiliated, intimidated, frightened, or uncomfortable? If so, it is a case of workplace bullying. Bullying and harassment are prevalent in almost any workplace, but education staff are particularly at risk.
Research has shown that four out of five teachers experienced bullying at work. Seventy percent of cases involve the principal, or senior leader, but others are bullied by peers, parents or students. Bullying is a problem we face in schools today, and it’s not the one you think.
While you hear about student-on-student bullying, no one is speaking about teacher-on-teacher bullying. But for teachers facing harassment from their colleagues every day, the proverbial struggle is real. Your colleagues would criticise you at every turn.
It is important to note that, as with students, bullying from colleagues is different from ordinary conflict or occasional meanness. For behaviour to be bullying, it needs to follow an abusive, repetitive pattern and can include behaviours such as ridicule, exclusion, shaming, and aggression.
Bullying from colleagues can be verbal or physical. And it’s happening too often in our schools. Bullying can take a heavy toll on a teacher’s confidence and morale. Being criticised and micromanaged is super stressful.
On the other end of the spectrum, being ignored and excluded leads to feelings of painful isolation. It’s easy to understand why many teachers who have been bullied walk away. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The good news is that there are several different strategies to cope with bullying, depending on your situation and personality.
We all know that a person who bullies is on a power trip. They want others to feel inferior and isolated. Bullying is an intentional attack designed to threaten and intimidate. It is prevalent in that secondary school in Grenville, St. Andrew. And no one, not students and not teachers, deserves to be bullied.
Being treated badly by a co-worker is so incongruous with the work we do as teachers – pouring our hearts and souls into nurturing and encouraging our students. It’s easy to take it very personally and react emotionally. Don’t let it consume you. Most of the time, all a bully wants is a reaction. Don’t give bullies satisfaction!
It is necessary to put physical distance between yourself and the bully. Many times bullies are masters at passive-aggressive behaviour. Most of us go out of our way to avoid conflict, but the time may come when a confrontation is necessary.
It is our priority as educators to stay healthy. We need to put extra effort into practicing self-care. Being the victim of a teacher bully is a horrible experience, but it is survivable. Is there a bullying policy for teachers at that institution? No. Are staff equally protected? No. We need to explain how to recognize bullying and harassment at work and how to respond if it is happening to us.
The good news is that the different types of workplace bullying- and their impact on mental and physical health – are becoming increasingly well-understood.
I hope that a growing number of education organisations are making efforts to create a workplace environment where people feel comfortable discussing concerns so they don’t fester and lead to bullying.
Many schools should take positive measures to protect staff by introducing anti-bullying policies, creating employee support schemes, or holding training sessions to raise awareness. The law also gives you wide-ranging protection against bullying and harassment at work.
The senior management team at this secondary school in Grenville frequently undermines some teachers in front of parents. The management team allows students to threaten teachers or physically attack teachers. Students will make up offensive jokes about teachers at the school. The senior management team also repeatedly excludes teachers from promotion or training opportunities.
The principal and management team will unnecessarily subject teachers to unannounced observations and criticise their teaching methods unfairly. Teachers at the secondary school have a difficult time and do not feel supported at work, experience daily injustice and feel very unhappy.
Teachers have been bullied and indiscriminately mistreated for several years now. The employer must tackle discrimination and protect teachers’ health, safety, and well-being (including mental well-being) at work.
Employers must provide a safe and healthy working environment under the Health and Safety at Work Act. It includes protection from bullying and harassment.
Workplace harassment can sometimes be a criminal offense. Harassment and bullying can have a damaging impact on your mental health and, consequently, on your performance at work.
Teachers of workplace bullying often report low self-esteem, isolation, depression, or anxiety. Some find their physical health suffers as they struggle with insomnia or self-medicate with alcohol or recreational drugs.
The mental pressure of continued bullying can also manifest in physical symptoms, such as nausea, headaches, high blood pressure, skin rashes, or an irritable bowel. Teachers can take formal action if the situation doesn’t change.
Teachers can also take legal action against the employer and get financial compensation. Many other people you meet in your education career will share similar experiences.
Remember, it’s never the victim’s fault!