Sara Bubb on how to deal with difficult colleagues and staffroom bullies

18th May 2007 at 01:00
In case you think it's you, I just need to say for the record that not all people who work in schools are the caring, sensitive little bunnies one might wish for. There are lots of fantastic people in schools who are more than happy to share their expertise with new teachers, but every now and then you may be on the receiving end of behaviour that is less than helpful or encouraging.

Some people find it hard to switch off from the sort of assertiveness needed to manage a class and boss their fellow professionals around like recalcitrant youngsters. So what do you do when someone upsets you? Well, don't let it get to you too much. Assertiveness training is worth considering, even if you just read a book on it. Being aggressive or passive takes a lot out of you, whereas you can feel an inner calm if you're simply assertive.

Killing rudeness with kindness is a super strategy if you can bear it. But look out for behaviour that moves from the inconsiderate to bullying, something that is not unheard of among staff in schools, as the number of cases reported to the Teacher Support Network indicates. The Stress Management Society identifies two types of bully: Someone who needs to put others down to raise their own self esteem.

Someone who is overloaded and whose tension leaks out as aggressive behaviour.

The second type is more common but the first is more dangerous. Bullying has a destructive affect on confidence, morale and health - all things that are essential for teachers. You may be the last to realise that you're being bullied.

People tell me harrowing stories, but then say: "Please don't say anything". They're worried about making matters worse. You must keep a record of incidents, noting how you were made to feel and what you did to address issues.

Speak to someone you can trust - you may find out you're not the only one who has suffe-red. Whatever you do, don't put up with it Sara Bubb is an education consultant specialising in induction. She answers questions at www.tes.co.ukstaffroomnew_teachersThe Teacher Support Network: 08000 562 561

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