As a teacher what can I do to stop being bullied by the student body in the middle school in which I teach?
I have be a target of continued harassment, rumor spreading, slander/libel false statements written and said/false gossip spreading by the student body in which I teach for many consecutive years of teaching. What strategies can you suggest for me to stop this bullying behavior once and for all? I have tried everything I can think of to no prevail. Are there any teachers and administrators of middle school age youth having similar experiences as mine? Any suggestions how to stop this bullying behavior from continuing?
I am sorry to hear that you have been having a difficult time with your students. Bullying is often thought to be between two younger students, but it can really happen with anyone, anywhere. Please know that you are not the only teacher who has had this problem and will likely not be the last. Although gossiping about teachers in middle school does happen quite often, it does not mean that it has to be a normal occurrence. Understand that these students are at an age where bullying behaviors peak. That said, it is never acceptable for a student to be directly disrespectful to you.
One of the three constructs of bullying is that there is an imbalance of power. From your question, it appears that the student body has more power in this situation. Fortunately, being in the position of the teacher, it is ultimately you who have the power in your classroom. It may be necessary to reiterate the rules of your classroom and even to have them physically posted somewhere in the room. Tailor the rules to include disciplinary measures for the acts of bullying you are experiencing (as long as it complies with school rules as well). Have the courage to take five or ten minutes once this list is complete to discuss it with your classes and explain clearly the consequences of not following these rules. These consequences need to be fair but firm. The hardest part is consistently holding students accountable when they do not obey the new rules. Showing that you are serious about being respected in your classroom contribute to students showing you respect.
It would also be a good idea to get in touch with the school psychologist for your school. He or she could do a few observations in your classroom if necessary and would be able to help you find some solutions for your specific situation. Also look for support from your fellow teachers and administrators. It is likely that with their combined years of experience, they have dealt with a similar situation in the past. Finally, if you do not have an anti-bullying policy at your school, look into creating one. It is likely that other students in your school are being bullied as well.