Teacher Kate D. knew bullying took place at her school; she'd witnessed playground scuffles and teasing before, but she didn't think it could happen to her. "One day, our assistant principal took my arm, dragged me into the principal's office, and proceeded to disparage me and my teaching in a threatening tone," Kate says. "I was terrified. I called the local representative of our teachers' association and filed a grievance. It took me a while to recover, but I'm proud I defended myself."
It can be as obvious as a shove in the hallway, or as subtle as the silent treatment, but an intimidating push is technically abuse, and "icing out" a colleague is considered exclusion. For example, if a colleague is always used as the butt of jokes during a faculty meeting, or objectified at a work event, it's bullying. Would you know if it was going on in your school? Read on for constructive ways to identify and take action against workplace bullying.
How to Protect Yourself
It can happen anywhere. Instructor readers share the strategies they used to deal with workplace bullying.
1. Talk to Colleagues.
"I had an uncomfortable relationship with my previous administrator. How did I cope? I spoke to my colleague, who has always been my confidante and cheerleader. She defended me, and her support helped me rise above it."
2. Take it Outside.
"An administrator once questioned me harshly right in the middle of a lesson. I excused myself to the hallway and asked her to please come and see me during my prep or free period when the students are not present."
3. Talk to Your Union Rep.
"I took on an extra class, which meant more work and weekends spent at school. My administrator refused to give me a prep period, so I went to the union. They gave me sound advice and made sure I was treated fairly."
4. Take a Step Back.
"I've had confrontations with other teachers, but it is typically just a misunderstanding. I always go back to resolve the issue one on one. It helps to keep our common goal in mind: to provide the best education for students."