When I called you garbage, I meant you were garbage. You’re a loser. Go back to Party City where you belong! You’re a pig. (Direct quotes from Real Housewives of New Jersey, American Idol and Keeping Up With the Kardashians).
Nothing new here, right? Behavior on social media and reality shows has not seeped into today’s classrooms. No, it has been residing there for more than 10 years. As a teacher, I saw if first hand between verbal exchanges of students and the increase of overt bullying. Now add in the vitriol parents wrote in emails. The meanness actually did not surprise me but the fact administrators allowed it was beyond understanding.
But it didn’t stop there. I had a department chair come through our joint practice rooms and tear down positive message posters placed there by students. Another time she made an appearance in my classroom, in front of my students, chastising me for breaking some unwritten rule. A department colleague continually spoke against me to her students and the administration. No one in the administration ever made a gesture of trying to arbitrate let alone determine substantiation of the accusations.
The finality of such insanity manifested itself when I appeared for my End of the Year (EOY) evaluation. When the principal discovered I was not retiring, he actually fired me on the spot. While doing so, the assistant principal left the room and manufactured a new EOY evaluation which made me look like a an imbecile rather than a master teacher with decades of experience. I outlined this in my book “Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!” In the book you can observe the positive and glowing evaluations I received years one through eight, along side of my final abysmal evaluation. The reality? I did not turn into a misdirected, confused educator overnight. This administration operated on cheap shots, lying and bullying. Conjuring up my final EOY to fit their narrative should come as no surprise.
That unfriendly behavior is good for TV ratings, but it might be bad news for you, the viewer. A new study led by Bryan Gibson, a psychologist at Central Michigan University, finds watching reality shows with lots of what's called relational aggression — bullying, exclusion and manipulation — can make people more aggressive in their real lives.
"We knew from past research that people who see relational aggression in media tend to become more aggressive.”
According to Philip Ross of International Science Times, reality television has a detrimental impact on our perceptions of the world based on an observational study from University of Winsconsin. In this study, 145 students from the university were surveyed based on reality television consumption. This study concluded that reality television viewers believe that the argumentative and conniving behaviors portrayed on television shows is considered normal in today’s society.
Bullying, exclusion and manipulation are now considered normal. Let that sink in. And it is no longer a “kid thing.” In America’s public schools, it’s used on a daily basis to get rid of freedom of speech, thought and any teacher who does not kowtow to the agenda put forth by the administration. Two things have gone amiss in today’s education: mentoring and due process of staff.
I belong to several Facebook teacher groups. It literally breaks my heart to see posts where student teachers can hardly wait to get that first job only to find out the job becomes the vortex for sucking the life blood out of their passion. Would I pursue teaching again if I knew how public school education has evolved? Yes! I loved the students and the environment of growing young people into passionate, articulate and caring adults.
This is no longer your grandfather’s public school education of the 1950’s where teachers felt a calling to invest in students and students were expected to conduct themselves with respect and dignity. Pick up my book right now (Amazon/Barnes & Noble) and learn how to navigate today’s ever changing educational dynamics. I address multiple topics. Here are only a few, not only discussed, but viable solutions presented:
What does it mean to become a teacher?
Surviving teacher conferences, innovative grading, classroom management
Celebrating inclusion of special needs students
Finding solutions to bullying by students, colleagues and administrators
Dealing professionally with parental verbal assaults and written emails
Arbitrating with hostile colleagues and administrators
Looking at points of view (students, parents, teachers and administrators) with reflection questions on all subjects at the end of most chapters
Here’s an idea: like the school in Ohio, pick up the book as required reading for your staff. It is designed for professional development sessions. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll gladly throw in a zoom or in person presentation!
TUNE IN SOON. Here’s a tease: The Man Behind the Curtain. I am three weeks post hip replacement surgery, graduating from a walker to a cane to sans cane. The surgery was more complicated than expected but the man behind the curtain reinforced a life lesson.
PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . Read more of my thoughts at: rescuetheteacher.com. If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Here is even a better idea: propose a book study of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! for your school district. I would be happy to come and lead it!