Bullying is rife in teaching. Part of me thinks it is because essentially, what a teacher does, is bully reluctant students into doing things, so, as that teacher progresses into management, they continue to manage the adults in the same way they would the kids. It certainly feels like the incessant micro management, the use of behaviour management techniques like ‘the language of choice’ and the threats of sanctions for wrong doings have all been used on me in meetings, the same as it would be used on a child in class.
I understand that, unless there is some kind of scam going on, if teachers are busy and under a lot of pressure, then senior managers are busier and under more pressure. The inhumanly high standards, and the zero tolerance of any kind of human err I believe is imposed on them, which of course ends up trickling down the hill.
Something I do think senior managers miss though is the fact that not everyone likes it like that. It is true that you can’t have it all, and in order to get to senior management in education, you do have to make a lot of sacrifices.
So, those that are at the top, have sacrificed other areas of their lives to get there, which is fair enough. They do seem, however, to presume that other people automatically want to do the same, and implement their performance management practices accordingly.
The result is that it is expected for you to work 60 hours a week and love it, it is expected that you don’t have a family that sometimes get sick and need looking after, and it is expected that you have no crises of confidence because you just love teaching that much. The lack of empathy and understanding from senior management is dire.
I understand that some professions are cut throat like that, and there is no margin for error just because of the nature of the job, but these are employers like law firms, businesses and the armed forces. Teaching seems to think it is cut throat, when it’s real purpose is to care, nurture and inspire, not to beat down, terrify and enforce.
Even if you are billing teaching as a tough profession for only the most able and dedicated, where it’s every man for himself, and is there to force before it inspires, there is still no need to operate such a black and white, rules are rules, zero tolerance approach to human nature. Until this fundamental persecution of teachers from all sides, including managers, stops, there will always be an unacceptably high number of bullying incidents.
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