THAT Teacher


Aug 10

A few weeks ago, I watched in horror as Philando Castile died on camera at the hands of a police officer. The video and it’s graphic aftermath haunted me for days.

As I tried to process the trauma I felt, and make sense of the debate surging around police brutality, a disturbing thought occurred to me -- police officers aren’t the only public servants who sometimes brutalize citizens. There are teachers right now doing the same thing to children in the classroom every day. They may not have guns, but they can kill a child’s spirit and murder their dreams armed only with a sarcastic remark, an unfair policy, or even willful neglect.

  • We’ve all heard THAT teacher consistently yelling at her students.
  • We all seen THAT teacher kill students’ spirits with his sarcastic remarks.
  • We’ve all overheard THAT teacher make disparaging comments about “those kids” in the staff lounge or team meeting.
  • We’ve all witnessed THAT teacher enforce unfair grading and reporting policies that marginalize some students or deny access for others.
  • We’ve all cringed when THAT teacher shames parents in parent conferences and makes them feel unwelcome in our schools.
  • We’ve all flinched when THAT teacher makes a thinly veiled racist remark and claimed she was “just kidding.”
  • We’ve all watched THAT teacher sleep through critical professional development when they are the ones who need it the most.
  • We’ve all listened to THAT teacher blame the students, their parents, and their culture and refuse to take any responsibility for student success or failure.

The question is, what do you do about it? Do you stand silently by; tell yourself that it isn’t your problem? Do you wait for someone else to deal with it? Do you shake your head at what a “bad” teacher she is as you close your classroom door.

Then you’re part of the problem.

You see, it’s not just our responsibility to teach our children. We are responsible to protect every student in our building. And if you let THAT teacher get away with brutalizing students, then you’ve participated in their brutalization yourself.

You may think you’re powerless.

You’re not.

You may not want to rock the boat.

You must.

You may think it isn’t your concern.

It is.

You may not know how to start.

Speak up.

You may have attempted to say something in the past and your complaints have been ignored.

Keep Trying.

You can’t ignore THAT teacher any longer. Your silence not only enables THAT teacher, standing by and doing nothing creates the very environment in which THAT teacher can thrive.

Our students need adult advocates. If you don’t stand up for them and end the brutality you know is taking place in your schools, who will?

But children are not the only ones being brutalized by THAT teacher. You’re a victim of THAT teacher too. I’ll talk about that in Part II coming next time.

Have you encountered THAT teacher in your school? How did you handle it? Share your experience in the comment section below.

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(9) comments

gmuller August 10, 2016

The problem is the administration does not care and the turn a blind eye.

    Robyn Jackson August 18, 2016

    It’s not just up to the administrator. None of us can afford to do nothing. We have amazing influence as colleagues. In fact, we may even have MORE influence than the administrator. I’ll talk about it more in my next post.

Rhonda August 10, 2016

Love your post, Robyn. I wish every principal in the US would start their first faculty meeting this school year with this post!

mr August 11, 2016

thank you!!! reflection was needed.

kitti August 17, 2016

Given the current climate of hatred and violence toward police officers, I’m disappointed that you used the comparison of police brutality. I’m sure it exists, but it is not the norm. We need to be supporting law in enforcement. I’m so thankful that we have officers who are willing to serve and protect.

    Robyn Jackson August 18, 2016

    I thought long and hard about this but ultimately decided to use the comparison because I was personally shaken by the recent spate of videos of police violence towards unarmed civilians and can see parallels to similar acts of psychological violence towards children in classrooms. Both teachers and police officers are public servants with a public trust and while not all are bad, we need to deal with those who are. I absolutely don’t want to fuel the climate of hatred and violence toward police officers who give their lives to protect us every day, but I hope we can engage in reasonable conversation about those officers and teachers and other public servants who abuse their positions, without making the blanket assumption that we are talking about all officers or all teachers. In fact, I believe we must.

Jane August 24, 2016

I tried to stand up to that teacher. Ended up on sick leave and have a disciplinary note in my file for daring to complain to HR.

    Robyn Jackson August 25, 2016

    That is terrible! I am so sorry.

Jason Lane November 24, 2016

It’s very funny to realize that it’s the reality of our life.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

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