My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.

The Bully Within

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Although unclear, the poster reads, "Bully Free classroom".

Although unclear, the poster reads, “Bully Free classroom”.

August 20, 2014

bully – (n) a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.

Dear Readers,

I have known a bully or two in my lifetime. In fact, I have been bullied on more than one occasion. However, me, a bully…Never! Or so I thought.

Recently, I have witnessed more than my fair share of bullying in my classroom. I try and stop it when I can, but sometimes I don’t catch it. and it isn’t as if the bullying is overt or anything; nope, it’s very subtle.  Fortunately, my students are still at an age where they will still tell a teacher when someone is harassing them.  Unfortunately, those days are drawing to close as my students enter into their teenage years.

Today, I asked my students to write a summary of their 7th grade experience thus far.  When time was up, I asked if anyone wanted to share.  A few shared and I applauded their bravery to get up in front of their peers and express their thoughts.  And then one young lady raised her hand and said she wanted to share.  What she shared nearly broke my heart.

“I wanted to be popular in 7th grade, but I am fat and ugly.”

This is where I got on my high horse, dear Readers.  I explained to the class that telling anyone that they are fat and/or ugly is a form of bullying.  Of course this young lady was neither.  Yet, she very much believed that she was.  And as a show of solidarity, another young lady raised her hand and said she, too had been told the very same thing.

I was neither shocked nor surprised.  I too, had been told that I was fat and ugly when I was in 7th grade.  Of course I was not, but that did not stop me from believing it, just as I am sure that these two girls believed it.  No, I was not shocked nor surprised, I was incensed!  How dare someone call these girls something they are not!  I explained to the students that words do indeed hurt and more often than not, they stay with people longer than physical hurts.

I continued to go on and on about the subject, when I was suddenly taken down a peg or two.  I simply must remember, humility, Vickie, humility.

A young lady in the front row bravely raised her hand.  She was going to add to the discussion I thought.  Instead, she said, “Miss, that’s pretty funny that you’re telling us this because last week you called us stupid.”

(I’m just going to let that sit out there for a bit.)

Wow.  Did she really say that?  Ok dear Readers, although it is not out of the realm of possibilities, I cannot remember ever calling my students stupid.  I’m not denying it and I didn’t try to deny it to my students.  I apologized profusely and asked that they please forgive me.  I told them I would be more careful with my tongue in the future and I really, really did not believe that they were stupid.

I asked question after question trying to pinpoint exactly when I had said that.  However, I realized that my questions sounded more like I was trying to minimize what I had said, so I stopped.

This ugly little incident happened first thing this morning and I have spent the better part of the day trying to forgive myself.  Actually, I vacillate between trying to forgive myself and trying to believe that I really said such a thing.  My conclusion?  I do have a temper and I do say awful things when I get mad.  So, I have to believe I said it.  Now dear Readers, how do I go about forgiving myself?  Peace, ~v.

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