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Re: Bullying
Tue Oct 30, 2007 2:13am (XFF: unknown)

Again, document, document, document! I had a teacher my sophomore year who was fair with grading, but had an attitude against women, minorities, immigrants, and anything he deemed "unAmerican." He was a macho war veteran, coach of the football team, and a very intimidating figure. It got to the point where if you were female or black, you were afraid to speak up in class. I became somewhat of a hero (yes, the quiet, timid, mousy "smart girl"!) because I would question things he would say and get into debates with him. (I'm usually extremely introverted, but when I see an injustice, I feel compelled to speak.)

This teacher would go on rants about the most idiotic things, like one day when he went on and on about how "wrong" it was when he was in the military and he went to the store there (I can't think of the name of the stores on base...help me out here.) and found they had filled one shelf with sanitary products. He went on and on about the "damn feminists" who must have been behind it, about how there were hardly any women there to use the products, and about how the men were serving their country and shouldn't have to give up a shelf that could have been filled with cigarettes, magazines, gum, or some other item that would have "brightened their day." I raised my hand and asked him if it was only one shelf. He answered yes. I asked him how many shelves total were in the store. He said he didn't know, but that that wasn't the point. I asked him if there were any women on base. He said yes, but very few compared to the number of men. I asked him what he expected the women to do if those products weren't carried in the store. By this time, he was flustered, red in the face, and the other kids were starting to giggle and were thoroughly enjoying that I was going at him.

Every time something like this happened, every time he made an off-color comment, I recorded it. The kids knew I was doing it and I openly told them I was taking my notes to the principal at the end of the semester. The teacher must have gotten wind of what I was doing, because one day near the end of the semester, he asked to speak to me after class. To my surprise, he told me what a joy I was to have in class, what an intelligent girl I was, and that he loved hearing what I had to say so much that sometimes he purposely got me riled just to hear what I would say back. He was as sweet as could be that day, and every day after, and I know it was only because he had to cover himself for everything he had done.

Sorry for yet another long-winded story, but my point is to record everything. If a student says "Mr. Smith is sarcastic when a student asks a question", the principal may write it off as a student's misinterpretation of the teacher's comment. Vague complaints go nowhere. But if a student can say, "On October 29, Rita asked Mr. Smith to repeat the homework assignment, and Mr. Smith's comment was "Is there something wrong with your hearing?" and on November 15, Joe asked Mr. Smith to go over an equation and Mr. Smith said "How many times do I have to do this until it sinks in?" and so on and so on, it becomes harder for the administration to disregard. And it may never even have to go to the administration if the teacher knows his sarcastic comments are being kept track of.

Occasionally, the teacher isn't aware of how bad he (or she) is being until a student points out a few examples to him (or her.) A good teacher will change once they realize they are behaving in a way that is harmful to the students. The bad ones won't change completely, but they will curb their negative behavior if they know it's being recorded.

You may want to suggest to your daughter that she keep a separate notebook to record this teacher's bad behavior. Everytime it happens, record details -- date, time, location, who was present, exactly what was said or done. After a couple weeks, take a look at the notebook and discuss your next step. If the teacher likes your daughter, maybe she should approach him from the position that she likes him too, and wants to help him by pointing out these comments as he may not be aware of their negative impact on the students. If she is afraid to confront him directly, maybe she could make a copy of the pages and anonymously leave them on his desk, along with a letter stating that she is doing so with the intention of helping the situation.

I'd like to know your thoughts on my ideas, and I'm also curious to hear what your daughter may think about them. If you feel it's appropriate to mention my suggestions to your daughter, please let me know what she has to say.

  • Re: BullyingHanna, Mon Oct 29 4:29pm
    Your experience when younger was certainly a wonderful life lesson. There are other ways for teachers to bully that perhaps would be more difficult to counteract with a record of grades. For example, ... more
    • Re: Bullying — OhioMomof2, Tue Oct 30 2:13am
      • Does it still work in the workplace?? Gabrielle, Sat Nov 3 2:21pm
        Ah, the joy it would be if it could be the same in the workplace... *sigh* The positive thing is obviously that, being an adult, I am more mature and better know what my options are. the sad thing is ... more
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