She was determined to gain control of her classes. Exerting her authority for several days, she put forth her best efforts to be consistent and effectual. She acted immediately when her students were disruptive, even if The Bully was the one who initiated the disruption. When he “misbehaved,” she corrected him as well, hoping to gain his attention. She gained his attention alright, and his contempt.
On the day The Bully blew up, she corrected him several times during class. She decided that if he were going to act up in her class, she would call him out on it. She began class at the bell. He interrupted her. His voicing booming, he mimicked her directives to her class. She quit speaking and waited for him to shut up. She began again. “Class, the word of the day is…”
The Bully interrupted her again. “OK, class, the word of the day is…” imitating her, drowning her voice to nothing.
Again, she waited for him to shut up. Six times this went on in a matter of two minutes. She waited for him to finish, and instead of continuing the absurd bantering, simply and quietly asked him, “May I please start my class now?”
He raised his eyebrows in surprise as if he had no idea what she meant. “Of course you may start your class,” his tone was condescending.
The tension was thick and the students bolted in their seats, remained stone cold silent refusing to look up from their books. Spitting snide remarks, his feeble jokes hung dead in the air. There was no response, no laughter, no appreciation for where this situation had landed.
Next, she was attempting to read a poem aloud to her students. He proceeded to make “mmmmhhhhmmm,” mocking noises as she read. He reminded her of the little old ladies in church agreeing with every word spoken by the preacher. She glared him down, but to no avail. It’s difficult to bully a bully, especially when The Bully is three times the bullied size. He had been so successful in putting her down, and while he was quite shocked by her actions to stand her ground, he was even more determined not to lose his foothold.
Thumping her book down on her desk, she leveled him, “What is the matter with you? Are you ok?”
Now it was his turn to be stunned. “Yes, I’m fine,” he answered, crinkling his eyebrows as if she were quite indeed mentally impaired.
“Then please stop making noises while I read,” she demanded. She could tell he was extremely agitated. Her students were deathly quiet; knowing that trouble was brewing. Not one dared even to breathe out loud.
She felt childish. She was embarrassed for having to engage in this type of behavior in front of her students, but she felt there were no alternatives. He had to be stopped. At the end of the class, he approached her desk and asked what was “wrong” with her. There was a single straggling student who had not yet made it out the door.
“Nothing is wrong with me, Bill,” she lied in order to protect the lingering student.
“Something is wrong,” he insisted.
At this point, the student’s attention was directed at them.
Again, she countered, “Nothing is wrong, Bill; just drop it.”
“No,” he stubbornly refused to heed her warning. “There is something wrong. Why don’t you just spit it out?” His tone was aggressive, accusatory, and hostile.
Her voice was controlled, calm and hushed. “I’m just trying to get my structure back.”
“We had this talk a long time ago,” he blasted in his arrogance and refusal to back down and let it go in spite of the fact that a student was still present.
“Don’t you even go there, Bill,” she retorted. Not able to hold back any longer, “YOU are the reason my classes are short on structure.”
“Don’t blame me for your lack of structure. It’s not my fault, “ he argued.
“It is your fault. My other classes are perfectly fine. The classes with you are not, and it’s because of YOUR behavior. How can I have structure when you are throwing paper balls, conversing all period with students who should be paying attention to the lesson, and especially when you are spitting out sexually charged comments?
Enraged, he charged out of the room refusing to speak with her any further, yet yelling at her all the way down the hall for God and the entire school to hear. Her thoughts turned to what kind of man wouldn’t finish what he started. What kind of man refused to straighten out a bad working environment with a co-worker? What kind of a man blasts a co-worker, female or not, and tells her to “shut the f*ck up?” She knew what kind. He as a coward. He was an imbecile. An overweight, insecure, obnoxious coward who hid behind his fat and refused to accept responsibility for his actions, and for his life.
Of course she sees the error of her ways, now. She should have handled it way before it got to this point. She says she didn’t “get it” at first, blaming her own naiveté . She didn’t get that he was bullying her. He openly challenged her abilities in front of her students. He openly yanked the structure right out from under her, and he continued to steal her control through his childish, unprofessional behavior. Thinking back, she attributes trusting him to the evolution of their problems. She trusted him to be in her space, her classroom, and with the students she was charged, by law, to protect. She trusted that he “had her back.” After all, isn’t that what colleagues do? They protect one another, right? Aren’t they in this arena of education together? Aren’t they supposed to be a team? Aren’t they there for a common purpose – to educate their students, and to prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow and productive members of society? She just doesn’t get why he was so hostile toward her. What could she have done that would cause him to be so aggressive and hostile?
The result was for her a hostile work environment. She would have to report it. But isn’t that “tattling” on a co-worker? This was going to exacerbate her shame. She didn’t want to tell on anyone. What if he gets fired? What if this goes to court? She truly wanted no part of all that. She just wanted to silence him from any further harassment, ridicule, criticism, or bullying. She wanted him to just go away.
She said her best friend had a stern chat with her. She told her it wasn’t her fault and that it didn’t matter even if she had done something, that he had no right to treat her as he was. Instead, he was to remain professional, and apparently, his professionalism was long gone.
She had no other alternative but to report him to her principal. What would be the ramifications? His circle was larger than hers. He had “friends” at this school, more than she. Would they turn against her? Would her work environment be made any more hostile? It didn’t matter. She had to do the right thing, and for her, that meant reporting his erratic, bullying behavior.
To be continued…