Let me start off by saying I am 110% against bullying. Someone very close to me told me about how she was bullied in school and it made me the bleeding heart than I am. How could anyone treat such a sweet, funny, generous person with anything but kindness? I couldn’t understand it and it made bullying something I could not tolerate, even as a child. However, I think the word “bullying” is starting to be misused. In a world where bullying has gone to a new, horrible level with things like cyber bullying, we don’t need to lessen the gravity of the word by calling everything bullying. That way we can all rest assured that when it is bullying, it will be handled appropriately.
A child saying that they do not like another child’s pencil is not bullying. A six year old saying she’s saving the seat for her best friend and not allowing someone to sit there is not bullying. Now if she and a group of people were not letting the child sit near them to shun the child or were ridiculing that child then that would be different. However, just like adults, children have preferences. They have their best friends that they want to sit next to. They might like superheroes more than princesses. They also have less of a filter than most adults. Instead of calling it bullying and saying those students must be separated from each other at all times because Bobby hurt Sarah’s feelings, why not use that as a teaching opportunity? It is a wonderful teachable moment for conflict resolution and teachers are missing out on that when administration is saying that the children cannot be near one another during any activity. All that is teaching them is if they don’t get along with someone, they don’t ever have to work with them again. It also means that the real world is going to kick their butt. “What do you mean I still have to work with Karen? Didn’t you hear me say that she said no when I asked her if she wanted coffee because she prefers tea? She’s so mean. I need her to be transferred to another office.”
Instead, let’s give them the tools they need to be functional adults later in life. When my first graders come up to me and tell me something along the lines of “Johnny said he didn’t like my LEGO monster!” I respond with “Did you tell him you didn’t like it when he said that? That it hurts your feelings because you worked hard on it?” They then go tell their friend those things, their friend says sorry, and they continue being friends. I don’t have to rearrange my seating chart. Special areas teachers do not need to be notified that they can’t be together. No bullying incident report needs to be filled out. I have done class lessons on how people are different and different things hurt their feelings. We have talked about how sometimes we say things that we think are funny but the person you said it to gets their feelings hurt. “Does it matter that you thought it was funny if it hurt his feelings?” and they answer a unified “No!” My students are learning that people feel differently about things and that their feelings need to be respected. They are also learning the difference between someone unintentionally hurting their feelings and bullying. These students are learning how to cope with things when they are upset. They are learning to regulate their emotions. They are learning how to function in the real world before the safety net is removed and they face-plant. My kids will land on their feet.
I often find myself in the situation now where I am broken-hearted while reading the comment section on education blogs. I can’t believe these thoughts are coming from educated people. I hold teachers to a higher standard. I believe we should be compassionate, caring, kind, a champion for human rights and positive change, and DEFINITELY not racist. It’s not that I cannot handle people having different views. That’s what makes this country, different views being able to be expressed. Feel differently about health care? Fine. Have a different view on education? Alright. Where I can’t handle a healthy debate or respect your opinion is when it comes to not treating others with respect, compassion, and as human beings.
When someone says they would rather let people from Norway in as immigrants rather than from “less than” (a nicer phrase) countries, what they’re saying is they want privileged white people. That they’re better. That the fact they didn’t have a tough lot in life makes them inherently good people and those from other circumstances and skin colors are inherently bad people.
A teacher agreeing with this and defending it rips my heart out. Do you feel that way about your students? Do you not want or love little Billy because of the color of his skin or the circumstance he comes from? “Alcoholic parents? Let’s not afford him the same education. He can’t succeed. He doesn’t deserve a chance.” That is insane.
A teacher saying “I like that he says what he means.” Do you? You like how he speaks about people? Entire professions? Entire races? Blanket statements that hurt and offend others? Racist comments? Demeaning statements about anyone who opposes him? That’s a bully. A racist, reckless bully. How could you, as a teacher, respect a bully? We are supposed to protect, nurture, and inspire. We teach students to choose their words wisely, speak with kindness and decorum, and to be respectful. Yet, you’re proud of someone who does none of those things?
It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t something I can agree to disagree on and move along. I am sure this blog will burn some bridges but when the bridges lead to hate, it’s not somewhere I want to go anyways.
Hi! I’m a teacher. However, I’m also a human being. A human being who makes mistakes, who tries her hardest but sometimes comes up short. Who is hurt when you tell her she isn’t good enough.
I know that as a parent, I’m going to be fiercely protective of my baby girl and any other future children I have. However, I’m also going to be respectful. Here is my oath that I’m putting out there now. Hold me to it when she hits school age.
Instead of accusing, I will inquire kindly just as her teacher will do of me if maybe I drop the ball and forget to do something.
I will thank the teacher for her hard work even if my child doesn’t get every concept immediately. I will put the same hard work in at home with her. I will understand that it isn’t lack of effort sometimes, but the child just isn’t ready for that yet. I won’t stop trying, but I’ll celebrate her successes as well and ask what I can do to help.
If something doesn’t come home graded immediately, I will remember that the teacher has a family too. She may have chosen to snuggle her sick baby that night instead of grading a math paper.
I will understand that there are a lot of moving parts at a school and that the teacher can’t control all of it. I won’t take my frustrations out on the teacher when it is out of his or her hands.
I will ask my child what happened, but I will also take the teacher at his or her word unless there is a glaring reason not to.
I will understand that teachers have 2 eyes and 20+ children. Not everything can be seen, but I know they’re trying to. They want to send them home in the same or better condition than when they arrived.
I’ll understand that the teacher didn’t discipline my child because he or she is mean. I won’t think he or she did it to humiliate her or make her upset. As much as it breaks my heart when she’s upset, I will look for the lesson the teacher was trying to teach and work to reinforce it at home. They’re teaching my child to be responsible, take responsibility for their actions, treat others well, work hard, and many other things we work on as parents as well. School isn’t just about learning math and reading.
I will not try to change my child’s grades. She didn’t turn something in? There’s that lesson again. A low grade? Maybe we needed to practice more during homework time, ask for tutoring, or ask the teacher if she could go back over it with her. I will try to teach her how to cope with it and how to avoid it happening in the future.
If my child is having a continual problem with another child, I will let the teacher know but will also be teaching my child peaceful ways to deal with it. I won’t let her get bullied or hurt, but I will understand that kids are kids. If someone says they don’t like her shoes, she can tell them they don’t have to wear them and that it hurts her feelings when they say that. Conflict resolution is so much more valuable than fighting or avoidance.
I’m teaching my child to be a responsible, kind person. I appreciate that the person spending 8 hours a day with her is doing the same thing while away from his or her own family. Be kind to teachers. They love your kids. They want the best for them. They are doing their best.
welcome to my mess
I've always dreamed of being one of those moms who makes Bento Box lunches with artisan sandwiches cut out into cute shapes along with carrot sticks and grapefruit that my perfect children will gobble up, but I am fairly certain my child is going to end up with a package of deli meat and a Snickers bar. I can barely get myself ready in the morning and I once screwed up a grilled cheese maker. Who knew the top part of the grilled cheese maker also heated up? Spoiler alert: everyone. I'm not sure who decided I was capable of raising a human, but they handed her off to me anyways and I love her more than I can begin to explain. However, love isn't magic--despite what Disney claims. I cannot suddenly wake up without 46 snoozes or manage my time well enough to have the opportunity to use conditioner in my hair. I'm still me. I just have a cute mini-me now. I have a master's degree in education and a participation award for adulting. Please follow me on my journey and give me a wave if you ever end up on the struggle bus with me. I also frequent the hot mess express, and I check my email on occasion. Wherever you run into me, just know I woke up like this. No, seriously...I didn't have time to do anything else.