Bullying is not something left at the school gate, it can follow us into adult life! I once worked in a school where so much pressure surrounded observations one teacher hid in a cupboard prior to the observed lesson. So what is bullying?
Bullying often starts as a bit of banter, but as we constantly say in schools, if the recipient is not laughing then it is not banter and when persistent it becomes bullying. It is not confined to the playground. Teachers can be bullied too leading to stress and anxiety, a reduction in efficiency which then feeds the cycle of bullying. I have witnessed fellow teachers trying to make themselves look good to a head teacher at meetings by making a point at the expense of a colleague, usually someone who is already feeling under pressure in their performance. If you speak up with a genuine concern only to have it ridiculed or dismissed you tend to remain quite the next time and eventually your views go unheard. If this is the behaviour where you work, it could be bullying.
I was once surprised when I felt the need to contact my union, to relate a series of incidents. The union rep listened carefully, asked a few questions and without hesitation told me I was being bullied, I was shocked – me being bullied? I didn’t take it further but eventually I moved on to a school where I felt more valued.
When I was a child bullying was largely limited to break times, my home was a safe haven but with email, social media and mobile devices there is no safe haven. How many times have you received a late night text or email with the sender expecting an immediate response, even over a weekend? YOU can say no?
If you think you are being bullied you should contact your Union for advice. If you want to be more assertive, to not feel guilty at the fact you are on the receiving end or you want help to cope with the anxiety and stress help is available. By building confidence, making you realise you have done nothing wrong and providing coping strategies you don’t have to be a victim.