Yellow

Me: Hi, I’m Tim, I’m a 40-year-old male teacher and I’m being bullied

Teacher  1(Head of Self Help Group): Hi Tim

Teacher 2 (on verge of a nervous breakdown): Hi Tim

Teacher 3 (disillusioned by the profession): Hi Tim

Teacher  4 (just plain nuts): Hi Tim

Me: Everyone was very welcoming when I started at my new school, then I noticed that the people in my year group were making life difficult for me, in different ways. I started to be patronised, to be condescended, the butt of a few too many jokes and having my every mistake jumped on. If my blog proves anything it’s that I have a sense of humour but the joke just wasn’t funny anymore.

Teacher: So did you go to see the Head Teacher?

Me: The nature of bullying is that the perpetrators are calculating. If you saw written down the things they’d said, the things they’d done to me you’d be forgiven for thinking I was being oversensitive. But that’s the point. A bully is aware enough to do things that they can always justify it should they ever be confronted.

Teacher: So you’re planning on leaving?

Me: I don’t think I have any other choice. Ironically I know that if I had been placed in another year group with any of the other people in the school I wouldn’t be sat here. This time around I just got dealt a bad hand (shrugs)

Teacher: So are you leaving the job or the profession?

Me: I think both. The truth is some people go into teaching for the wrong reasons. They’re inherent bullies and teaching legitimizes bullying. They can destroy kids and who’s going to stop them? It’s always their word against a child’s. I think I need to step off the teaching treadmill. We’re expecting our first child in February I just want a bit of regularity for a bit, in fact this could be the most profound thing I have ever said but…

Crazed man who has stared intently: (interrupts) Wait…so this isn’t fight club?

Teacher  1: No this is a meeting of SHIT! (self-help in teaching)

Another man: I thought this was map club? (Pulls out map) oh wait I see, I’m here and I actually want to be over here…

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10 thoughts on “Yellow

  1. Michael Graffin (@mgraffin)

    The teaching profession would be the lesser without you mate, but having been through my own teaching hell, I know there is no easy choice in this situation.

    If supply teaching is an option, I have found this one way of staying in the profession a little longer, although to be fair, the work I do outside of school is what keeps me sane.

    I wish you all the best in whatever direction you believe is best for you.

    Reply
  2. tyler durden

    sorry to hear about everything going on. i’m roughly the same age as you and experienced exactly the same thing a couple of years ago when I did my pgce. I came across a lot of anti-male attitudes in primary teaching at a number of schools I was at. as you mentioned, these people can be extremely calculating. one teacher was frequently trying to get me to react, so i just acted nicely towards her and thanked her for her help each time. this wound her up so much she started to suck air through her teeth and physically twitch.

    she would tend to jump on the slightest little thing i would do wrong and then turn it into something major, putting me down behind my back to other teachers to turn them against me and make me look incompetent. meanwhile, on all my external evaluations i got outstanding.

    i often heard the women being extremely nasty behind the backs of the male teachers(some of the nicest guys I’ve ever met). this was clearly done to turn other members of staff against them.

    i think a lot of it is the type of people that are attracted to teaching. they also haven’t done anything else and don’t have much experience of the outside world or working with men. they talk to other adults as if they are children. when i raised issues of bullying on my pgce course i was accused of being sexist!

    remember it is not you. you are surrounded by some people that are not at all pleasant. they are the ones with the problem.

    i completed my pgce and decided not to go into primary teaching. everything will work out ok. there are other options.

    bide your time. little victories. good luck!

    Reply
    1. timlondinium Post author

      Thank you Michael and Tyler, it means a lot to get your messages of support. I stood up for myself today for the first time since I joined the school. I accused one of the people, whose job it is to support me in the lesson, of undermining me. She was very apologetic and visibly wilted in front of me. I was nervous (and a bit too Hugh Grant-ish) but nonetheless it was a step in the right direction and more importantly I made my point and showed that I still have confidence.

      I want to stress though that I’ve rarely noticed any divide between woman and men in my experience of being a male primary school teacher. In fact, I’ve enjoyed working with the majority of colleagues. With another year group at the school I know I would be content.

      On this occasion though, I’ve been allocated a group of people who for different reasons have been unpleasant. If my leaving means those people begin to reflect on aspects of their behaviour then some good would have come from it.

      Reply
  3. timlondinium Post author

    Thank you Michael and Tyler, it means a lot to get your messages of support. I stood up for myself today for the first time since I joined the school. I accused one of the people, whose job it is to support me in the lesson, of undermining me. She was very apologetic and visibly wilted in front of me. I was nervous (and a bit too Hugh Grant-ish) but nonetheless it was a step in the right direction and more importantly I made my point and showed that I still have confidence.

    I want to stress though that I’ve rarely noticed any divide between woman and men in my experience of being a male primary school teacher. In fact, I’ve enjoyed working with the majority of colleagues. With another year group at the school I know I would be content.

    On this occasion though, I’ve been allocated a group of people who for different reasons have been unpleasant. If my leaving means those people begin to reflect on aspects of their behaviour then some good would have come from it.

    Reply
  4. Michael Graffin (@mgraffin)

    To be fair, I haven’t experienced a male/female divide, but I have felt the effects of bullying by staff. I was only a temporary employee, but I left, never to return.

    Good luck on your teaching journey – we are always here if you need us :)

    Reply
  5. misterprimary

    I am a mature student teacher – second year of a three year BA (Hons) ITT degree. Before I started the course, I supported the ICT needs for a hundred primary schools in the Greater Manchester area. I only ever saw three incidences of anti-male attitudes over a twelve year period. The problems I witnessed appeared to be personality clashes. However, I overheard a remark made by two female teachers in Year 5. They were unhappy with the male teacher’s lack of enthusiasm to sort out an email problem, stating ‘he must be this lazy at home. I bet Janet (his wife) writes plenty of lists for him to complete.’

    ‘We will all have to do the same’, came the response. Both women were beside themselves.

    As a male teacher going into the profession, what advice do you have for dealing with the female population of the workforce? Is there a list of do’s and don’ts? Was there anything you wish you had known before starting at your school?

    Thank you for any help you can give.

    Mark

    Reply
    1. timlondinium Post author

      Hi Mark,

      In my (albeit limited) experience in teaching I have not experienced any kind of sexism. I have been fortunate to work at schools where, despite men being in the minority, my colleagues were supportive, kind and welcoming. There was never the merest hint of any kind of a ‘divide’ and if it was mentioned, it was in a good humoured and respectful way.

      That said, in my current job, where I am the sole male teacher there has been a more manevolent reaction towards me. I would still doubt this is due to me being a man though (although this may be a contributing factor), more to the fact a few of my colleagues are unpleasant people. This can, of course, happen in any work environment, I have just been unlucky enough to have these people within my year group.

      My advice would be that if you begin to notice any elements of bullying (patronising comments, undermining of your authority etc) stand up to it straight away. I would suggest though to any teacher, whether male or female. It will stop you having a miserable time. I only wish I had taken my own advice sooner.

      Wishing you all the very best in your teaching career.

      Tim

      Reply
      1. Mr Primary

        Hi Tim,

        Thank you for your comments. Standing up for yourself is very important, especially if it’s the head teacher who is the person ‘bullying’.

        One book I’ve recently read is Tips for Real Men in Primary Schools by the Future Teacher Foundation. Most of the content can be applied to both male and female teachers alike. However, there are some parts for men to watch out for. For example, having the aggressive behaviour card played against you. This is where a female colleague insists you are being aggressive towards her because you are answering back.

        More importantly, the book recommends another – How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie. I’ve found this book to be most useful because it highlights simple gestures/actions to do each day that will show other people you care.

        Mark

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