In the last two days I have read a blurb about teaching as an abusive relationship and another about high levels of teacher stress. Both very accurate. And sadly, when teachers express their feelings towards these issues they are labelled whingers and told that it can’t be hard because of the holidays, or things to that effect.
If I were rich, I would quit.
If I had another job, I would quit.
In the last two weeks I have been verbally abused by many students. I have been disrespected by staff. I have been threatened by angry parents. I have been told to “use my common sense”. Mostly because parents choose to believe their children’s stories without investigating or even asking for the adult’s perspective.
And I’ve had enough.
Not just a bad day, or a bad week, or a bad start to the term. This is relentless and becoming more entrenched. And I am really angry. Student welfare is significantly more highly regarded than staff welfare, and this is unacceptable.
Unhappy staff are not as productive as happy staff. And it isn’t my boss; this rests with exceptionally poor parenting decisions.
We all know of bad teachers. I am becoming more interested in knowing if the majority of bad teachers are just demoralised people who wanted to make a difference, couldn’t, and don’t believe they can achieve at anything else because teaching has taken every shred of their self-respect.
Maybe. Maybe not.
I was bullied by a Year 8 student for the majority of last week. She was relentless. It started because I asked her to buy a workbook for English. She responded, repeatedly, “You’re an idiot.” The next day she put her bag down and left to go to the toilet, ignoring my instructions to stay. Informing me again that I’m an idiot. During the day, as Head Teacher, she mocked me in front of a class by mouthing, “Shut up”, repeatedly. Her parents wrote on the Formal Caution that I needed to use common sense. She continued to get in my face, telling other students what her parents had written, resulting in students laughing at me publicly.
She wasn’t just doing this to me. She received five Formal Cautions from a variety of Head Teachers.
Consequence for her: she is now undergoing assessment.
I have refused to have her anywhere near me and I refuse to ever teach her again. She has behaved like this throughout the year. I have tried everything and given her multiple opportunities. But not anymore.
At some point I need to stand up for my worth and value. I taught Year 9 Maths this morning. Because I am trained to teach children I can teach anything, and teach it well. I am a strong leader and I can build a faculty from nothing. I am an exceptional mentor, to staff and students. I dedicate my time to creating a better and safer world.
And I won’t be disrespected by systemic garbage and moronic parents anymore.
To add to the Year 8 girl situation, the counsellor sent her back to me so that she could apologise. I reminded the student she was not permitted to be anywhere near me. I then instructed the counsellor that maybe she should ask the teacher first if the teacher is willing for this. For me, it added to the bullying. I am the bad person for not listening to the student. She’s just a child.
A child without boundaries and with no care for the consequences of her actions on others. And no apology from the counsellor even though my mental health was compromised. By a mental health professional.
Add to that an irate father yelling in my face after school in the car park last week because his daughter lied to him (or to me, the stories were different) and him moving closer to me as if he were going to hit me, without wanting to hear the situation with open ears, and me having to stay calm and professional. Then a Year 10 male student attempting to harass and intimidate me on Friday afternoon requiring two male staff members to remove him from the premises. All the while supporting staff and building a faculty from nothing because my predecessor has failed to do his job. And the pressure of HSC, reports, copious amounts of marking, budgets, Open Night organisation, tens of Formal Cautions for ongoing poor behaviour especially for not following instructions from adults. Conflict with staff members who let ego get in the way of our core business, and it’s been a shocking start to the term.
Parents, if your child comes home and says the teacher did something, before getting angry and ringing the school to abuse the teacher or writing a letter to abuse the teacher, take a deep breath and know that in the vast majority of cases, there is significantly more to the story than you’ve been told by your child.
Generally, teachers are reasonable humans. We aren’t robots and we don’t get into teaching to “make little girls cry” (another accusation from a parent last week). I work bloody hard. I have dried countless students’ tears (far more than I’ve created). I have given hours of time from my personal life to listen to kids, to be there, to pick them up from hospital after suicide attempts, to sit with them in mental health facilities, to support them and cheer them on in their endeavours, and I prepare engaging, relevant lessons delivered with humour, love, patience and happiness. I work hard to help your children succeed.
I deleted my last line. Suffice it to say that I think a lot of parents could learn how to effectively parent by watching me in action at work. Time to step up. I shouldn’t be suffering anxiety or stress because of your child.