Hashtag: #EnElColegioTengo (At school I have)
Why Some Teachers Crossed the Line?
A 14-year old girl in her second year of high school was yelled at, humiliated, and sent out of the room by her well-experienced male science teacher for simply asking stupid questions. Teachers who bullied their students, according to study, were mostly new teachers overwhelmed by frustrations or tenured teachers who were very set in their ways and unwilling to change their traditional coercive teaching practices.
A few instances of accidental coercive reaction due to lack of experience and frustrating students’ behavior may be acceptable for new teachers but the bullying male science teacher is a veteran teacher. One explanation is the fact bullying behavior is rooted in personal values, ingrained, and consistent with the way a person understands the world. Since the behavior of tenured teachers served them well in the past and in fact earned them their current position and authority, they see themselves as superior, arrogant and unsympathetic towards “inferior” students.
Study of bullying teachers shows that regardless of frustration or student’s positive behavior, teachers who are more senior, tenured, and experienced teachers routinely practiced bullying behavior. These include habitual utterance of offensive or suggestive language, derogatory or degrading remarks, get involved in coercive sexual behavior, racist and sexist comments, embarrassing, threatening, and intimidating remarks. Moreover, regardless of their position and authority, they engaged in spreading false rumors in an attempt to discredit and socially isolate an individual.
Is There a Cure for Teacher’s Bullying Behavior?
Connecting with students in both personal and professional manner is often very challenging. The study shows that teachers who cannot control a student displaying negative behavior in class often engage in power struggle until they become frustrated and respond with bullying. For this reason, it may be helpful for teachers to avoid engaging in the power struggle with aggressive or irritating students.
Some of the recommended strategies to avoid power struggle is to build a positive relationship with students through caring concern, constructive feedback, and respect. For example, teachers communicating respectfully, paying attention to students concern, acknowledging those with positive behaviors, working with each student to address behavioral problems is unlikely to get negative responses from students. In contrast, those who used force and engaging in the power struggle, make a public scene of a student’s negative behavior, and taking it too personal often form the negative relationship, increased the potential for burnout, frustration, and bullying behavior.
The above recommendations are clearly not inapplicable to “superior” tenured teachers who in a way value their deeply rooted unethical teaching practices. Since the principal in practice avoids dismissing these senior bullies, some of them were reassigned to non-teaching positions where cannot harm students. Other less senior bullies, probably those with potential for change, were sent to some sort of anti-bullying programs aimed at changing their culture, attitudes, feelings, and behavior.
In preventing tenured teachers’ bullying, some programs encourage teaching and non-teaching staff to report a teacher bullying a student. Others conducted a student empowerment session aimed at balancing the power inside the classroom. This program in practice promotes awareness of bullying behaviors and their consequences and eventually developed respect between both parties.