The Bullied Teacher

About Sarah Sorge

A high school science teacher, Sarah Sorge has taught in private, charter, and public schools in grades 7-12. Her areas of interest include neuroscience, education, and problem-based science instruction. Recently, Sarah was awarded the distinction of New York State Master Teacher.

Bullying has received increased attention the past few years.  Administrations have placed harder and clearer rules against student bullying, clubs and organizations have formed in schools to address bullying, and legal actions have taken place against students who have bullied other students to the point of self-harm.  Bullying, as we well know, can take many forms and can come from multiple avenues.  We even have in-services to address bullying among students and intervention strategies.  We know when and how to step in and take a stand against the bullying we see among students.

But what happens when it is we, the teachers, who are the targets of bullying students? Click To Tweet

Here at The Educator’s Room we have written in the past about teachers who are bullied by our administration team, but what about when the student is the bully?  Every day within our classrooms we encounter students who are obstinate to the point of vindictiveness, and we are often told that we do not have control over our own classrooms.  Teachers being bullied by their own students occurs more often than most people realize, and often this is a form of bullying that goes unreported.  In the event that it is reported, sometimes nothing occurs or very little is done in terms of student discipline by the higher powers-that-be from in-the-school administration.

Let’s start with a definition:  bullying is the use of superior strength and influence in order to influence and/or intimidate others in order to reach the desired outcome.  We know this definition well in regards to students bullying other students:  the clever put-down, the thrown food, the nasty names, the snide remarks, social media bashing, and the like.  What many fail to realize, however, is that teachers are just as much a target as students to the physical and verbal abuse of their students.

Media outlets have reported in the past about teachers who have been bullied and the footage caught on cell phone camera.  I read one article in which a substitute teacher was verbally and physically harassed by students.  Verbal taunts were used and the teacher was repeatedly flicked in the face by students’ fingers.  When a report was filed, it was told that charges would not be pressed against the students and it would be handled within the school by the administrative team.  I read nothing regarding the consequences for those students. It makes me wonder, then, how many times incidences like this occur and go unreported because the teacher feels powerless and victimized to the point that they wonder if there is any purpose to even saying anything about the behavior within the classroom.

Studies have shown that there has been an increase in teachers undergoing medicinal treatment for depression and anxiety. Click To Tweet

Daily, we are faced with students who are borderline out of control and occasionally we see little in terms of administrative support.  Students have said that they are called down to the disciplinary office, are told to not do it again, and are simply released without further action.  Emails and phone calls to parents on behalf of the victimized teacher often go one of three ways:  unanswered, uninterested, or lip-service.  Unanswered is rather self-explanatory.  Uninterested is when a parent/guardian will fluff off the student’s behavior and place all discipline (or even blame!) on the teacher.  Lip-service is when we have parents who say they will speak to their student, the student is apologetic, and then the behavior returns to the same force as it once was.  Sometimes, it even becomes worse.

Students have multiple avenues by which to bully their teachers.  First and foremost are in-class behavior: items being thrown, acting out, snide remarks, intimidating behaviors, etc.  Detention is often one of the forms of discipline we have, and yet often that has no bite.  For instance, in one school I know of, the teacher who gives the detention is required to sit with that student in detention the day the student serves it.  One colleague, I knew of had a student threaten physical harm.  Being her first year in teaching she followed the rules:  she called security, had the student removed, and issued detention.  She was unpleasantly surprised when the security officer returned that student to her at the end of the day to serve the detention with her.  The school was too large to assign security to monitor a detention hall and administration believed it was an issue that needed to be solved between student and teacher.  She spent the detention fearful and decided that she would never issue another one since it served no other purpose than to intimidate her further.  Another college friend of mine who is a teacher said that if he has problems with student behavior he would issue detention and send the offending student out of the room to a head of discipline.  Often he heard back that the detention was “taken away” by the administration team  after a brief discussion with the student, rendering his last ditch effort at discipline completely invalid.  The student found this laughable and found that it didn’t matter how much he/she misbehaved because the disciplinary officer liked the student and played a sort of favorites.

Outside of school, Students bash teachers on social media sites consequence-free because they are protected by free speech Click To Tweet.  Thus, teachers are often rendered powerless in the face of bullying students and feel they have nowhere to turn to that will give relief.  In more serious instances, personal property is stolen or damaged (slashed tires in the parking lot, for example), and if the student is not caught in the act then little can be accomplished to support the teacher.

There are many teachers who silently suffer the torment of their own students, and anti-bullying campaigns rarely address students who bully adults.  We know that there has been a distinct shift in student behaviors regarding respect for adults in the past several years, and many reasons are given as to why this has occurred.  Unfortunately, few of them suffice when a teacher is shaking to enter his/her classroom each day or dreads going to work because of one or a group of students who will make it their personal mission to make that teacher miserable, knowing the administration will do little to support the teacher.

The question remains, now, is this:  what can we do to stop students bullying teachers?  I’d be interested in reading your comments and feedback below while I continue to research strategies to help the bullied teacher cope and take action.

The Bullied Teacher

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About the Author:

A high school science teacher, Sarah Sorge has taught in private, charter, and public schools in grades 7-12. Her areas of interest include neuroscience, education, and problem-based science instruction. Recently, Sarah was awarded the distinction of New York State Master Teacher.


  1. Tracy Brady May 6, 2013 at 9:16 am - Reply

    This post really hit home for me. I have several classes this year that this applies to — a new experience for me although I am a veteran teacher. Thank you for writing it.

    • Pam Jacobson May 13, 2013 at 6:46 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for writing yet another example of how teacher abuse is rampant across the nation! Keep all the talk lines open regarding this issue. Administrators bullying teachers is so common now and it is illegal! How are they getting away with it?

    • Nat Jones February 6, 2018 at 7:35 am - Reply

      What about a district rampant with nepotism, aggressive, non-teaching administration, and non-caring attitudes toward students? I work in a district that has accused me of everything that they can think of, from stealing to being rude to students to what sounds like accusations of abuse. In addition, they have indicated to me that I am below the intelligence level necessary to perform the job of a teacher. I have two Master’s degrees and a BA. I am a mother. I have no criminal record. I published a teaching book. I am also an accomplished musician. I realize that this stems mostly from their needs to control, lack of social skills, low-level intelligence, nepotism, and job security. However, I am so tired of bearing the brunt of these behaviors. It just doesn’t seem to stop. It is a weekly, at least, affair. And, since I am a substitute, few if any teachers extend any kind of a welcome, I have to listen to backstabbing, negative comments from people who don’t even know me, and rarely get the chance to interact with the students and teach, which I truly enjoy. Much of the time, the students (who will grow up to be administrators) are so full of anger and hatred that they just call me names, throw things at me, and generally try to mimic the attitudes of their aggressive and biased teachers. This district is horrible, and I will never work for them again. However, why can’t something done about these behaviors? All I can do is check my personnel file and write a rebuttal at the end of the year. NEA seems to only care about minorities. This state actually refer to the Common Core standards as their own State standards (created by them) (meaning altered to fit their needs) (meaning twist it until you look like nobody is ever going to get your job away from you, and you can do anything you want to those students.) I not only refuse to participate in such behaviors, but I am convinced that I am not mentally, or emotionally capable of doing so; thank God.

  2. Carol Nevius July 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    Over the years, there have been many instances of bullying against me, the teacher, from false allegations to threatened bodily harm. Unfortunately, admin doesn’t take them seriously, sometimes becoming the bullies themselves. It’s not always a nice job, except for summer, which is wonderful! (And I’m as tough as they come, a world traveler, older mom, strict and confident.)
    I am looking forward to retirement. I will always be a hard worker, but at something more satisfying.

  3. Diana S. Rice August 22, 2013 at 10:52 am - Reply

    There is a movie called Illume ( which deals with this sensitive and pervasive issue. I have been casted as Ms. Sullivan a teacher that is bullied by a student named Ty. I really need YOUR help in acting this part. I would love to talk to any teacher/administrator who has been bullied. Your information will be in strict confidence. To find out more, please come to my facebook page and send me a private message. I appreciate your help in this matter..Thank you so much ♥.

  4. Mary May 15, 2016 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    I am a mother of a ” Troubled Kid”.
    And this is my perspective. Bullying has gain so much attention that instead of it being a preventive resource it has turn into a resource for kids on how to do it AND get away with it. Sort of like how to beat the system. It has also, lead to the recurring of what I refer to as premature judgement. Nowadays just about everything a child does is automatic a form of bullying. This is where i come in as a mother. I feel like teacher have given into all of this bullying thing. In my opinion Teachers and administrators no longer deal with situation giving benefit of doubt, compassion, logic and commonsense. Teachers have resorted to a man made law called bullying. We went from horseplay to bullying. From being insensitive to bullying, from expressing oneself to bullying. From growing pains to bullying, from making mistakes to bullying. It’s absurd how better off everyone was before this bullying thing was talked about. If my son is being rude in class, I have no problem with the teacher telling him to shut up. If his being rude, I have no problem with a teacher using some form of threats to accomplish what she expects out of a student. I have no problem of a teacher at time has a spit a word of profanity. After all, they are human. My child is a good kid but is turning mean because the bullying little is breaking him down. Teachers are breaking down and apart because they feel their arms are tied. They can’t so anything without there being fear of whether or not she it he will get in trouble for it.

    • Teacher "in need of improvement" May 16, 2016 at 9:54 pm - Reply


      You and your child are not the bullying problem. While your child may pose discipline problems for the teacher, having a parent who will listen not only to the youth (who is likely trying to release him or herself from fault) but also to the educational professional is a great and increasingly rare thing. Parents like yourself use judgement in the best interest of raising a child who has been taught proper behavior and the consequences for not following it. Too often, and I am speaking from personal experience now, the parent listens only to the complaints and excuses of an adolescent in trouble and tries to blame the teacher or the school rather than admit that the child might actually be at fault. Worse yet are the administrators who immediately jump the minute there is a complaint about a teacher based only on the rantings of a disgruntled parent of an underperforming 14 yr old. Parents truly believe they are protecting their children from harm, but instead are pushing problems off to the future for these young adults who have not learned to handle consequences for behavior on their own.

  5. Elizabeth May 15, 2016 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    What a great posting. I was a new teacher and experienced bullying in my classroom. I think that new teachers should get a LOT of support their first year, and also NOT be assigned mostly students with behavioral problems. This is just wrong on so many levels. And, when there is trouble like this, a new teacher should have in-class help. A word of advice for new teachers and teachers transferring schools: Be sure your school allows you to see your students’ records (this did not happen when I taught) and make sure you have lots of support, a great mentor that has time to help you, and a working New Teacher Induction program. I’m sure bullying must happen to more experienced teachers too. (I see it does – – from another comment here). Also make sure you don’t get a classroom where the heat and air don’t work, you don’t have proper books, and the phone is out of order. You can’t call for help if you can’t call out. Always check these things before you accept a position. Need a job? Wait for one that is right. Don’t take one that could be dangerous to you OR the students.

  6. Andrea Burgos May 15, 2016 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    I take anti anxiety pills every morning to be able to work. This is the worst profession to be in right now. it’s hell.

    • Doreen May 16, 2016 at 11:55 am - Reply

      I am so sorry that you are so stressed from your job. I can relate to your feelings. I taught for 35 years, and the climate of the classroom and student behavior changed drastically over the years. In addition, the feelings toward teachers in our society is in a downward spiral. I don’t know how many years you have left before retirement, but if you are close, hang in there. If not, your health is worth more than any job and you might want to consider a job change. Again, I know and understand your stress – I’ve been there too. God bless you and seek Him for guidance relating to your stress. You are not alone!

    • Michelle Gengaro May 16, 2016 at 11:23 pm - Reply

      Yes it is!!!! The crappy pay is not worth the toll this job has taken on my health- both mentally and physically. Admin suck- they are just as bad as these kids. There is no accountability for the students, its always someone else’s fault- namely the teacher. Worst job I ever had!!!!!

  7. Debbie Whitlock-Roush May 16, 2016 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    I was lucky in my 20 years of teaching that I only felt bullied once. I hated every minute of that class. No matter what I did, parent calls, principal visits, etc, nothing helped. Until one day I blew up. I told the kid that bullying wasn’t allowed in my classroom and that included bullying the teacher. I turned on the rest of the class and told them students allowing another student to bully were as bad as the bully and that was happening in my classroom here. I looked each kid in the eye and asked them how they would fell if “J” picked on then the way he picked on me? Would they expect other students to help them stand up to him? Well, that’s what I was expecting and wasn’t getting. Therefore, no student is allowed to speak, make noise, or anything unless I gave permission. The silence was deafening. Anyone (starting with “J”, because he pushed the envelope first, was sent to the classroom of a male teacher friend who had prep that period. This teacher was a former military man who basically put each kid through “basic training questioning” . Took about a week, but everyone came around. “J” realized that his hatred of women was NOT going to be transferred to me! Thank goodness I had support of fellow teachers!

    • marie October 26, 2016 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      Good for you! Great example of honesty and taking control.

  8. Erin N May 16, 2016 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    I would like to see administration that isn’t bullied into not disciplining a student either. There is greater pressure to be softer and softer on students for the sake of fitting some type of data marker the school gets judged against. Bad schools happen because bad neighborhoods happen. Perhaps instead of putting your judey-mcjudgerson puffy, perfect Pandora on lean in and say “not my kid”.

    ALL school deserves respect, not for the blind sake of authority but for the fact that we’re all just human beings who are trying to get on and be better with life.

  9. Katherine May 30, 2016 at 11:05 am - Reply

    I am a substitute teacher who works in a few good districts. Out of nowhere, I had two high school students from different classes, belittle me. The female one I dealt with more easily. The male has a hair trigger temper. I was wrong not to report it the first time it happened. This 16 year old talked down to me, insulted me, then called me ugly. I used to work in rough neighborhoods, and this never happened. I balmr it on the privileged status of the kid as a star in his school team in an upper middle class neighborhood. He had his first and last time to mistreat me consequence free. I was afraid to be a nuisance to the administrators.

  10. Mary October 14, 2016 at 12:01 am - Reply

    I am a substitute teacher in a very small affluent school district. I am bullied on a daily basis by the students. When I complain, nothing is done. When I leave notes for the teachers and the teachers then give the students detention, I get the anger and blame when the kids see me in the halls. When I tell the teachers this has happened, the answer is to cancel my future bookings and take me off the request lists. I have dealt with students who are accountable to no one.

    • Kayla Dawkins November 1, 2016 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      Luckily for you, your child or relative wasn’t in the classroom to witness your abuse, looking on powerlessly. It happened to me. My friends turned on my and began to bully me and my 2 aunts who were our teachers. They would even get their parents involved to have my aunts fired and then laugh and tell me about it as if the teachers weren’t even my aunts, ouch.

    • Georgia January 4, 2017 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Same thing happens to me. I am also in a small and affluent school district. I report bad behavior in a classroom and everything you said happens. I also happen to live in the community so add in being out to dinner with my family and seeing kids who bully me in the classroom and have them walk up to me, in front of my husband and children, and laugh and say,” You’re that stupid f*ing sub. I am going to get you fired”. I feel as if the administrators are as bad as the students when it comes to mistreating me. I have no rights and no place to turn. My only choice is to quit or continue to be mistreated. I have a masters degree and took this job as a way to make some money and have hours that coincide with my children’s schedules. The level of dysfunction I see everyday is shocking.

      • Jana Busby February 23, 2017 at 8:56 pm - Reply

        I am trying to find the place to turn legally. I know legally that there is a place, probably with a civil rights attorney. Your post just makes me want to throw a pie in their face. How sad that people can be so demeaning to someone like you (and me). I am subbing in a wonderful district that has an incredible administration and anti-bullying policy. I love this district!

      • Ellen February 23, 2017 at 10:47 pm - Reply

        A former colleague who retired and now subs part time gets this too. Just this semester I have seen an increase in bullying by students who were previously fine. it’s gotten really bad in one class so now I am like a dictator in there. It’s too bad but I have to be.

        One is a kid off of probation who just constantly makes stupid remarks to be funny. The other is a girl who is a drama queen and if I ask her to move her seat, lets loose with a bunch of rude comments.

  11. marie October 26, 2016 at 5:01 pm - Reply


    I do not know when or how getting an education went from a privilege to an entitlement, but I believe that you can start to resolve this issue by simply removing students from school that either can’t or won’t behave in a respectful manner.

    No student has the right to interfere with either the teacher’s ability to teach or another student’s ability to learn.

    This is simple and does not require laws, discussions, blogs, group discussions, parents, or lawyers. It just requires the education system to take back control of their schools.

    P.S. The same thought process applies to parents. Your children and their behavior is your responsibility not the school’s, teacher’s, minister’s, police or anyone else.

    20 years teaching and educational management

  12. Kayla Dawkins November 1, 2016 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Wow, I’m so glad that I found this post. I’m 35 years old and I’ve searched the internet for months and months trying to find someone who has gone through the same thing that I’ve gone thru. I still haven’t found it, but this it the closest. My family’s generational curse, believe it or not, is being a school teacher. We are from a very small town with only one school and a very bad school system. The teachers are horrible and they don’t teach, and the students love them for this reason. If a new teacher is hired and actually comes in with the intent of being a good teacher by actually teaching, the kids will bully you to tears and do whatever it takes to get rid of you. Its like a circus at the school and has been for over 20 years. Unfortunately for me, my relatives are the good teachers who actually taught and were bullied and HATED by the students for this. Going to school was a nightmare for me. 2 of my aunts were the teacher in 6th grade and the kids let us have it! I had friends and was fine up until this point. My friends turned on me in the worst way and began to bully me and my aunts. May I add that my aunts were more than fair in the classroom, having me as their niece. They never treated me better than any other students. The bullies even told lies to get my aunts fired. They bullied my aunts and me and went home and told their parents that it was my aunts who were bullying them. These same friends used to come to all of my birthday parties and we even had sleepovers at each others house. All of the students would get a kick out of dogging my aunts out to my face. They turned on me and my family all because my aunts wanted to be good teachers. Wow, this has really haunted and scared me for years on how cruel students and parents can be. The same thing happened to all of my sisters and brothers when they got to the 6th grade as well. Life has never been the same for us in that town. All of these years later, people still turn their nose up at us bc our aunt was their teacher. I will never be a school teacher! I told my husband about my horrible school years and he was outraged as he had never heard of such a thing. Well, it happened to me & I have google this issue for months & Ive never heard of it happening to anyone else either. Has anyone else experienced being bullied because their relative was the school teacher?

  13. Bullied Teacher November 12, 2016 at 12:24 am - Reply

    Glad to read this. I am currently being bullied by one of my students. She told her friends that she wants to get me fired. Luckily, those girls came to me to warn me. I reported that to my principal who basically told me not to worry about it. She glares at me in class and says terrible things about me to her classmates. She recently got into trouble for bullying another student, and, when confronted by the principal, she tried to make it about me. I consulted with another principal about it, and he talked to my principal, suggesting that I am also the target of bullying by this girl. I think he is beginning to see it now. I’m glad I reported it right away, and I’m glad I reached out to someone else when I felt helpless and unsupported by my principal. I still have to deal with the girl, but I feel like I might finally have some protection. I hope so, anyway.

    • Bullied by mean girls February 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      This happening to me too! A few “mean girls” have decided to get me fired. They have invented accusations of racism and absurd remarks. They are sending group chats out and trying to all to rise againgst me. Unfortunately, our principal is brand new! She has no idea that I have been a respected member of this community and an excellent teacher for over 15 years. I have NEVER had a bad evaluation ever. Some students are starting to tell me about the “plot” so I am beginning to have a clue. I wish I knew what to do!! My principal responded by putting me on a performance improvement plan. There must be something wrong with me and my teaching (all of a sudden). When I call parents about behavior issues the harassment get worse!

      • AJ Coco April 1, 2017 at 12:56 am - Reply

        This is happening to me. I am a dance studio owner and have coached dancers and taught english in my community for over a decade. I’ve never gotten a bad evaluation and never gotten a complaint. I was always admired by my students and respected by my colleagues. All of the sudden, a group of “mean girls” started conspiring against me. When I first was told about it I blew in off thinking these girls are ignorant if they actually think they’re important enough to mame my reputation. Well, I was the ignorant one. I have had every lie one can think up reported about me and spread throughout the school. I have students who never had me give me dirty looks in the hallways. Many of my former students who would otherwise high five me or shout “What’s up Ms. C” now scoff at me as I pass by. I think they simply don’t want to go against the grain, but I also think that the rumors and defamation have affected even students who deemed me their favorite and their respect for me. After a long list of complaints and allegations that were so absurd I didn’t even give them energy, I am now accused of using drugs during school and being fired for coming to school “high as a kite.” The mean girls have damaged my reputation and respect from the community to the point that they are actually getting me fired. Mind! Blown!!

      • Ann September 15, 2017 at 3:16 am - Reply

        How did you survive this situation? I tried to stop a bullying situation and the result is that I got bullied by students and a parent. The parent made false accusations…now, I am being investigated. I have taught for over 20 years. I am still in shock that this is happening. The level of anxiety and stress I feel right now is off the charts.

  14. Bonpet November 19, 2016 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Thank you for posting this! I am a Guidance Counselor that is now teaching English (my 2nd year). I am planning on going back into counseling or leaving education when I can from the bullying I receive from about 5 students in one of my classes. As a counselor, I know that it is important to have set boundaries, but this goes beyond anything reasonable. My principal promised that he would read them the riot act, and instead, when he came in, gave them the warm fuzzies of how much he loves them, them left my room. I was left to address the issue of a parent stating that the students in my class don’t respect me because I use the bathroom between the two classes, and I sometimes arrive right after the bell, and I needed to change class policies. (I have to run across campus for the bathroom.) I am saddened at the manipulation students use and that my admin is willing to throw me under the bus in order to keep a parent happy.

  15. Carlos Miranda December 1, 2016 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Warning to any substitute teacher coming to an elementary or primary school, less so with secondary, Don’t try to teach, you’ll be sorry. I have been a substitute teacher for 6 yrs now in New York City Public Schools and I can tell you the problem is basically two-folded. First the culture of the school, then the administrator and teachers that are vindictive if they decide they don’t like you just because of your attitude, looks, physical size or any classroom management problem that you may have that will take up the administrators attention diverting it from their own unproductive routines, even if it may be one second of the administrators time. The best approach to be successful as a substitute is to have whatever assignment you are to give them, and hand it out, don’t try to teach them or make them work, otherwise you risk a problem student who has been enjoying the entitlement “ride” and having not been accountable to anyone, of making a comment that he/she has been harassed by you, the sub. Remember, you are not their teacher, you are merely just A NANNY who is monitoring them for the day. Try and teach them, and it will be to your downfall by false accusations. Even worse, if there is another teacher in the room, who plain just doesn’t like you, that teacher may bully you through stating you did or said something that was in their feeble opinion, unprofessional. Finally, unless you have an administrator that favorites you, don’t both subbing in that school, because you open yourself to be either bullied by the teachers or student who will rearrange anything you said to make it seem like you are guilty of verbal abuse or even even worse..physical abuse.

  16. Kelly Fritschy January 14, 2017 at 6:17 am - Reply

    Thank you so much fir this article. I am bullied on a daily basis by a student and sexually harassed in front of other students. I have little to no support and I have to deal with it. When is it my right to feel safe and not humiliated in front of my clsssroom of students? I love to teach, but I will be leaving the profession soon. Students and parents run the schools. We as a society are not preparing our youth for the real world if they are allowed to do this without receiving the natural consequences for their actions.

    Please let me know where your research leads.

    Thank you

  17. Christyn Saracino February 13, 2017 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    I’m happy to find this post. I’m a 7th grade middle school science teacher at a charter school. I have one student who will come within inches of my face and yell at me that I’m ugly and a bad teacher. He infringes on my personal space, makes verbal threats and last week he pushed me. The administrators say there is nothing they can do and the mother is non responsive. When she does come to meetings, she tells me that I better figure out a way to make it work. I get no support and I’m not the only teacher he treats this way. I don’t know what to do. Four teachers have quit because of this student and the principal just gave her notice. I know I’ll look for another job next year, but it seems like I should not have to put up with this disrespect from a 12 year old. Please continue your research and contact us with avenues for justice. Thank you.

    • Cathy Meyers March 4, 2017 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      So, I thought charter schools could pick and choose students. Wouldn’t it be easier for school to kick them out and retain staff from year to year? Is there a waiting list of kids to take this students place? I thought the strength of the charter school was that they could get rid of those students, while public schools couldn’t.

  18. vicki fanney March 22, 2017 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Thank you for the article and for the comments that I have read about student bullying of teachers. I do not teach in public school, but I do teach 18-year-old Chinese English learners at a private university in an affluent region. Before that I taught English learners of many nationalities at a local community college. I have loved my job until this semester at the new institution. I would caution against framing this problem we’re discussing as unique or endemic only to American school systems. Many of the students in one of my classes in particular exhibit no respect for the learning needs of their peers or the expectations of the instructor for the learning process. They treat the classroom as though it is their personal domain and the teacher as someone who is there only to provide a menu of individual options that they can choose from like an interactive app or game. When they do not see any options that suit them on a given day, they set their own agenda and then act either aggressively or passive-aggressively toward the teacher for her not meeting their desires, and the administration does nothing to help these students see that this is not how education works. There need to be more activities in which members of the administration, students, and teachers are mutually engaged directly in different productive contexts so that students can learn how collaboration and mutual respect should function in an educational setting, and teachers are not left to feel isolated in their classrooms only to face willful ignorance on the part of administrators when students (or parents/funders) complain about some aspect of the pedagogical context or process. It seems to me that once a complaint happens against a teacher, even if the situation is the result of reprehensible behavior on the part of a student, it is difficult for the teacher to recover from that shadow once it’s been imposed on her. I think part of the solution to our problem is for the 3 camps (4 in pre-university setting) to have to work together in educational tasks rather than lock themselves into their respective zones of functionality. Outside of that, I do not know what the solution, but I hope to return to this site to read more in the future.

  19. Toms Mom April 26, 2017 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    Thank you for his article. I am a high school teacher and a student of mine has taken situations and blown them way out of proportion in order to get me in trouble. Luckily, my other students came to me and told me what was happening so I was aware.
    My question is, how do we as educators fight back when these kids and their parents decide to slander us? I am not moving schools just to keep people hush hush, because it’s not true… isn’t there some kind of law that doesn’t allow this? My work environment is hostile and I think my administration is on a witch hunt… how do we combat these things???

  20. Saundra Delgado May 3, 2017 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    As a veteran teacher, I always shrugged off students inappropriate comments as immature behavior. Now, with technology at their fingertips bullying is alive and well. I have been negatively exposed on snapchat, twitter and instagram more than anyone should be posted on these social media sites. Students do feel entitled and are always in the moment. If they don’t get their way teachers are bullied. I have never experienced bullying like this school year. I have been disregarded as an educator because I am the only female teacher who is also a minority that is teaching a course that has been taught by males. I am challenged everyday by students to prove myself and I deal with negative comments dealing with my Mexican heritage. The worst thing is my dean and colleagues will tell me “yeah, it’s because you’re a woman of Mexican American descent.” It just bewilders me because most of the students doing the bullying are in my Advanced Placement classes. I was told by district IT that there was nothing I could do about the social media. I have three more years until retirement and I just want to quit.

  21. NateNC May 5, 2017 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Excellent article. Experienced something similar to this for the first time myself this year. I have a boy in my class that does everything in his power to undermine me in during class this year. In phone calls to his father I either get lip service or the father will take his child’s side no matter what I say he did in class. I’m a male teacher, so he knows he can’t physically intimidate me, but he does everything else in his power to make my life miserable. He laughs when I put in a referral for him saying he doesn’t care because the principal just tears them up. I actually had one referral put back into my mailbox with a message saying to “talk it out” with the kid. As if I hadn’t already done that several times. No matter what this kid does I get no back up from my principal, who often overrules our vice principal on suspensions. He’s threatened to get me fired and has even gone so far as to accuse me of assault. Every time he gets away with something he just feels emboldened to push me further. I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t taken a toll on my mentally and physically.

  22. Kath May 19, 2017 at 10:20 am - Reply

    I am wrapping up my first year of teaching, and to be completely honest, I don’t want to go back. My 4th graders have made my life a living hell for the last 8 or so months. There is constant disrespect, talking back, fighting, destruction of my property, threats against my safety, and intimidating phone calls/messages from parents. My principal does nothing to help; if anything, they make the situation worse. I’m afraid to go to work on some days, I have nightmares about work, and I’ve had severe panic attacks. I thought it was just me for a while, but every teacher in my building is having the same problems. I never considered until someone mentioned it to me that these are symptoms of an abusive relationship. I’m afraid to come back to teaching next year, even though it will be at a different school, because I can’t take another year of this.

  23. MW May 21, 2017 at 10:03 am - Reply

    Thank you for this article and everyone for their personal stories! I’ve been subjected to this for the first time in my 21 year teaching career! And bullying never crossed my mind because who’s supposedly in the power position – me, as the teacher! But reading this I’ve realized that my students and their parents have had the power and used it all year. I’m leaving the school because my reputation has been ruined and if I can leave the profession, I am! And I know of many teachers who are because of this behavior from students, parents and administration and what’s it done to their physical and mental health. I’ve gone on medication just to get sleep from anxiety. And had it used against me by admin.

  24. Margaret June 9, 2017 at 2:13 am - Reply

    I think this article and these comments show how little people know of how bad it is. When I read all of the examples, I think, that is nothing, as sad as it is say that. This is nothing of what is really going on. I am over 20 years in the class and have proven by all standards how good I am. It does not matter. When you have a bad administration not only not doing anything about student and parents bullying, but encouraging it, it’s out of control.

    The bad students and parents have all of the power if you have an abusive administration. With all of the computer access now, it’s a coordinated effort to harass teachers who hold up a standard. A friend of mine started talking about issues of the badly skewed grading practices because he was getting massive complaints from students and parents being “scared, humiliated, and overwhelmed” by being asked to do grade level work because they had been given good grades by a previous teacher despite lack of skill and ability. Students learned the key words to use to “get” the teacher. My friend was repeatedly written up with disciplinary notices by administration for this! When administration did something wrong, they wrote him up. Now, they can’t do that, can they? There must be some fairness. There is none. Teachers are bullied and harassed to a point where they resign or give up. There is little recourse. But, but, but, there’s a union, right? If it’s like our union, you have “rights” to respond to write ups on you and file grievances to have them reviewed. What you don’t know is that they can make up their own process of writing you up and if you grieve it, the people who are writing you up are looking at it, and guess what? They always decide what they did was right in the first place. They can manipulate data, interview children without parent consent, and then say a child has said something, but a teacher never has access to any of that, nor can do that. The teacher is insubordinate if they tell anyone about it or ask anyone. It’s a web of lies used to form a fake paper trail to be used as “evidence” against you.

    My friend gave up in humiliation and resigned. Then I became the major target. Like my friend, I have been bringing up major grading issues and becoming more vocal about it, partially for my own benefit. I get harassed by parents and children who are “scared, humiliated and overwhelmed” in my class because they cannot do basic grade level work because they were assessed inaccurately before. The administration’s job should be to go after teachers not teaching skills and over assessing. They do not. They are all about doing whatever they can to make sure all students pass so they look good and feel good. Pass the buck along and don’t worry about setting the students up for failure. Like my friend, every single year my students have made the largest jumps in independent testing, proving we are doing something right. Does anyone care? No. They just want good grades and no homework.

    So now students know they can lie and cheat and get what they want. Bad or overwhelmed or delusional parents who support this have all of the power in complaints if the administration supports the target. If it’s one of their friends, they will white wash any complaints. If you are a target, like me and my friend, they use it to “get” you. They will call in students and interview them about a teacher and then use that to accuse the teacher of all kinds of nefarious things. This is without any teacher access to what actually was said, to respond, or anything else.

    Right now I am trying to force a confrontation–either listen to me and be honest, or try to dismiss me, which is the only real recourse I have with unbiased people. In that case I can have a hearing in front of an independent commission and ask for it to be public. I have to probably pay $75 k in lawyer fees above what the union will pay for to do this. The good thing is, if I win, the school pays everything. But few teachers will go that far. They give up. I want to go that far. I want it to be know to everyone I am being humiliated, retaliated against, harassed and targeted and treated like a child molester because (I am serious, these are the primary reasons) I had students call home with missing work “for the intention of humiliating them,” and because I tell students and parents I grade differently than other teachers and do no agree with that grading because it’s not the way the high schools and colleges grade, and I want to prepare them for the future.

    The bullying of teachers is this bad and worse. This needs to go public.

  25. Shari L Rivera June 29, 2017 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    I have been taking anti-anxiety medications for several years and this year the bullying got so bad that I had to start seeing a therapist just to get to the end of the school year.

  26. John Lewis September 22, 2017 at 8:46 am - Reply

    Please remove this poorly typed comment! Besides, my photo is showing up with it!

  27. Tiffany September 24, 2017 at 5:03 am - Reply

    I am so glad to see this article and be able to read all these messages. I am being cyber-bullied by a student at the moment. She spread allegation anonymously on a public post on social media, rephrasing what I said in class with exaggerating adjectives, saying that I humiliated and threatened her in class. Many people left comments saying that she should call the police and find lawyer to sue me. Many people used bad words to call me and keep sharing it to others in order to “give me a lesson to learn about respect” and a lot of students believed that and said hate me too. A few students wrote comments to stand up for me , trying to tell others the accusation was wrong , they were verbally bullied. My reputation is ruin as teenagers are affected by peers. Colleagues will just think I have done something wrong to make students hate me. Public thinks I have done something very wrong and should not be a teacher. I could not sleep, lose all my appetite and the first time in my life – shaking body with no energy, tears running down non stop on my face. I felt so bad. I discovered there is nothing I can do except to wish the post will be forgotten soon. But with the powerful search engine that we have nowadays, will my nightmare ends one day? I worry that I am starting to have anxiety and soon mental illness. I wish to seek help and wish to find a community of teachers who encountered the same problem to talk to. Are there any website out there that I can find someone to talk to and get over this? I still want to be in this profession because I have been working so hard in it for these years. If I quit, everyone will think I really did something wrong. So I know I should not quit.

    • Lois December 31, 2017 at 1:52 am - Reply

      Tiffany I would love to listen to your story and be a shoulder to cry on. I’m living in fear of some things that I have seen and experienced. I’ve shared it with my co-workers and feel very supported, but I still have a pit in my stomach some days!

  28. Jill Mehlinger November 7, 2017 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    I have been searching for a site that addresses teachers being bullied by students. I have been bullied, threatened, cursed at, lunged at, pushed, and belittled everyday since school began in August. I follow the discipline plan by reporting the incidences that occur daily. The students see the school counselor, but continue their distuptive antics as soon as they return to the classroom. i dread going to work, and feel very unsafe in this hostile environment. The other students are well behaved, and a pleasure to teach. I feel bad for the abuse they experience daily, and feel I have no contol over the ADHD student that basically runs the class. He yells, screams, laughs hysterically, runs around the classroom hitting other students while I am trying to teach. He mimics everything I say, repeatedly tells me how ugly and stupid I am, and how much he hates me, and my funky hair. Admin now says I have poor classroom management, and signed me up for behavioral management classes. I’ve been teaching for 24 years, and have never experienced such disrepectful and abusive behavior from a child.. There should be laws protecting teachers from being bullied and abused. I also am told by administration that all I do is write behavior referrals. I have lost over 20 pounds since school began. I am totally stressed out, can’t concentrate, and my anxiety level is off the charts. There must be avenues teachers can take to end this abuse by children. Please keep me abreast of steps teachers can take to remedy this debilitating and hostile situation we face trying to teach in such a hostile, and unsupportive environment. I feel I am being forced into early retirement, and that means I will have to pay out of my pocket for health insurance, and settle for a lower pension since I am not 65 years.

    • Sally Sue January 4, 2018 at 4:17 am - Reply

      I am 57 years old, have been teaching for 7 years and was hoping to teach til I am 65 so I have something to retire with. I don’t think I will make it as I too am in your shoes… I don’t understand how administration is so far removed from the reality of the classroom.. Look what teachers in Pennsylvania did in November

    • Deborah February 7, 2018 at 2:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Jill, have you tried asking for support with this particular class from your head of department? Or could you contact your teaching union? It sounds like you are not getting the support that you deserve. If this doesn’t work I’d try to get into a different school where you have a better support network. Behaviour like this is not down to your behaviour management, it is because the people higher up in the school are not giving you enough support. You shouldn’t have to put up with this student in your class. Also have you tried asking other teachers in the school what this child is like in their classes? You will probably find that some other teachers are having some similar issues, since it sounds like senior management are not good at supporting behaviour in your school.

  29. Bwolf November 14, 2017 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    The students need real consequences for insubordination. Talking to them doesn’t work. The repeat abuser should be denied their rights to an education. We are not babysitters. It is a privilege that every taxpayer pays for. When students are so disrespectful and disruptive that they are interfering with the education of others they don’t belong in school. Getting tired of paying for the education of students who don’t want to be there and parents who want a babysitter. Cameras in the classroom? The public would be appalled.

  30. shannon stoney December 5, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Students learn this behavior in high school and then bring it to college. By this time they are quite sophisticated in manipulating and intimidating teachers. This happens a lot in the last weeks of the semester, when some are realizing that they are failing. Then they browbeat the teacher into giving them extra points, etc, to avoid failure. If the teacher resists, they report some minor offense of the teacher to the administrators of the school. Sometimes the administrators see through this; sometimes they don’t.

  31. Sally Sue January 3, 2018 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    I am a SPED K-3 resource teacher andI am currently being accused of bullying a disabled student by an aide that spent 8 days in my classroom collecting data on a student with inappropriate behaviors. I believe the real allegation is that I did not prevent the other students from bullying this student, not that I actually bullied him myself, but my administrator believes that they are the same thing. First off I did not witness the bullying myself, only the aide did. She told the principal and the principal told the aide to go to HR and tell them that I am bullying a student with a disability. The principal is new to our campus and is on a “witch hunt” (we all know it). What can we as teachers do to protect ourselves from administrators like this? I had already signed my teaching contract when the principal shift was made last spring….I investigated a little about this new principal however obviously I didn’t investigate enough. If I knew then what I know now about her past I would have definitely requested a different school for the next school year. She has a history of getting teachers fired, especially teachers with a stellar career. My job as a SPEd teacher is difficult enough!! We have a severe shortage of SPED teachers in our state AND we are the lowest paying state in the nation. I am also hearing impaired and have called the ADA who is going to provide me with legal assistance. My teachers union is pretty much worthless as they have no power AT ALL. They offered an employment attorney to consult with me about the how my hearing impairment affects my job. After reading all of the experiences of teachers being bullied by parents AND administrators I am just sickened. BTW I WILL BE teaching online classes only next year….no more classrooms for me.

  32. Deborah February 6, 2018 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    I am from the UK and I’ve taught in various private and state schools over the past 8 years. I’m a female physics teacher, and have had a few incidences of bullying over the years. Nearly every incident that immediately springs to mind has involved a year 9 or year 10 pupil or group of pupils. The worst incident was after I had taken a year out to go travelling, and I decided to do a few long term supply placements in London to try a few different schools before going back to a permanent teaching job. In one of the schools, I had a year 10 girl who arrived in the class a month after the start of term, and she was very outspoken and a bit of a ring-leader amongst the class (and probably a bit of a bully to some of the other pupils / or they were all scared of her) and I regularly had to remove her from the class due to her poor behaviour. She would regularly scream very loudly at the top of her lungs if I sent her out into another teacher’s classroom to work. She had a friend in the class who was initially very quiet until this girl arrived. Because she was her friend she started disliking me and they sort of ganged up against me.

    One day when I was walking around the class encouraging them to get on with the work, and I asked the quiet girl (who was sitting at the back of the class) why she hadn’t started writing. The quiet girl said to me ‘I don’t have a pen’ so I went to the front of the class to get her one. Meanwhile some boys at the front of the class started getting out of their seats and messing around and fighting each other, so instead of taking the pen to the girl, I needed to keep one eye on what was happening at the front of the class, so I moved halfway across the room so I was a couple of metres away from her desk. I then lightly tossed the pen so that it landed onto her desk.

    A few weeks later the head of department told me that he had received a letter from the quiet girl’s older sister (I don’t think she lived with her parents) to say that I had forcefully thrown a pen at her. Then about a week later the girl was interviewed and this time she told senior management that I threw the pen at her face. So not only had she made up a story about something that I didn’t do, but she had also changed her story (which was actually a good thing as it became less believable).

    I think these girls had come up with this plan to try to get rid of me, as they knew that I was a supply teacher. I then had to be questioned by my heads of department, and by the deputy head. During one of my lessons with this class, they took every student out one by one to interview them. I felt completely helpless. The other pupils in the class weren’t able to deny it happened as they just didn’t remember anything as nothing did happen. Most of them refused to comment. I think 3 pupils wrote down in the end that they didn’t see me throw a pen at her – the problem with this was that I was then accused of putting the words into their mouths. But if I had just told them the lesson and asked them to write down what happened (without telling them that I’d been accused of throwing a pen at this girl) they wouldn’t know what to write as nothing happened.

    It was a horrible and intimidating experience where I felt I had no respect or support from my heads of department until they had enough evidence from the students in the class to say that I didn’t do what the girl was accusing me of. I had only been working for the school for a few months at that point, and they didn’t know me that well either so they had to assume the worst initially. After this experience I just wanted to leave teaching altogether, and was imagining what might have happened if they had believed the pupil and then my entire teaching career would be ruined by one horrible lying school pupil. I’ve read some similar but worse stories now, about teachers being falsely accused of things and deciding to leave the profession. I think students are more aware nowadays that if they say something they will be listened to – which is obviously a good thing, as long as they don’t abuse it and make false accusations.

  33. Marilyn Bullard February 13, 2018 at 1:17 am - Reply

    I often feel bullied, openly ridiculed, mocked, talked about as though I’m not even there and manipulated by selfish, entitled teenagers.. And even more tragic screamed at and cursed out by aggressive, angry, foul-mouthed, misinformed , so-called ‘parents’. This is totally unacceptable and heartbreaking. I’ve decided to leave the teching profession. Our society treats teachers with no respect…it breaks my heart.

  34. Lisa February 16, 2018 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Been teaching for 20 + years. It’s progressively getting worse. Blatant defiance across the board as well. I’d certainly join a class action lawsuit. It would be great to have a talented investigative reporter to blow this into the sky for society to see and know about.

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