Yes, I’m the Mother who complained to the school management about my son’s Assistant Class Teacher.
No, I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful. I didn’t have a choice. I believe that my child’s welfare comes first and after keeping quiet for more than one and half years, I spoke up – against the Bully in Front of the Blackboard.
When your child is being bullied by a traditional bully – the one in the playground, it’s much easier to think of the options on how you can deal with it. It certainly is not easy but at least you are on somewhat equal grounds. When your child is being bullied by a Teacher, it’s a whole different ball game. For more than a year, I kept quiet trying to explain to my child and my husband that speaking up against the teacher might not go down so well. I was afraid of how he would be graded and of course if the bullying behaviour would escalate. Meanwhile, I would hear from different other parents how this Assistant Teacher repeatedly calls the children in our class ‘useless’ or punish them for just ‘being little children’. When my son would request to drink water during class and had hiccups, he wouldn’t be allowed. This was severe bullying and is one incident amongst the many that took place. Little conversations I had had with the class Head Teacher to rectify and manage this without taking it up with school management resulted in the Bully In Front of the Blackboard refusing to answer questions from my son during class.
No, it’s not fun when you know that someone is bullying and hurting the most precious thing in your life and I know all you parents out there can feel what I am saying.
These incidents had very severe negative impacts on my child’s behaviour, he was increasingly becoming withdrawn, not communicating properly at times, being aggressive with us and on every school morning it was a task to get him ready for school. For a long time, I thought, it’s just going to be another two terms and then I’ll just inform the school management and make sure we don’t get her as a teacher again. In the meanwhile, I too was being increasingly frustrated at how little I had control over the situation.
If you are wondering why I didn’t address this sooner and why it took me one and half years to sort it out, I’ll tell you why. I didn’t run to the school management for two reasons – 1. I didn’t want to be ‘That mother’, the one who always has complaints 2. I didn’t want the complaint to negatively affect my son and was worried that the bullying would escalate. Then it hit me while I was at my mobile network service provider complaining to their customer service – we are so quick to complain about the service we receive, whether it’s a cup of coffee that we ordered being cold or if an employee of an establishment was being rude but we let the educators of our children get away with ‘anything’ because they can, because so far that’s the system. We nurture our children with kind words at home, hold them close when they are little and growing up, kiss them and hug them to sleep at night, cry each time they get their injections, glow when they smile and cut a birthday cake and yet allow people who should know better to crush their spirits for needless reasons.
As you and I both know, there’s so much darkness, harshness and hardness in the world right now. We shield our children, cherishing their innocence and their childhood, why should we stand back and watch them being broken because the Bully In Front of the Blackboard thinks she can? When children are treated like that, it’s not only their spirits that are crushed but they tend to be cynical fast and have a hard outlook towards life. In every essence, they become the adult we didn’t want them to be.
I know it’s not easy looking after a large group of kids and I’m sure it does test a Teacher’s patience; after all we are only human. I also know that sometimes during the month, we ladies tend to get more annoyed and there’s only so much we can take! None of those are excuses. Teachers need to be mindful how their words and behaviour could affect the psyche of a child. One of the biggest problems that I am seeing currently (which falls under the purview of the school management) is that our Teachers are not Teacher trained. Individuals with academic qualifications not pertaining to education are hired – these individuals with no background in child psychology or understanding of interacting with children are essentially doing something they are not qualified for. I don’t mean to be rude when I say this but not everyone is suited to be teacher and if it isn’t in ones temperament maybe it best left alone. In this regard, I find schools being severely unfair in hiring such unsuitable people. Perhaps continuous evaluations of teachers and finding where they too need to be professionally trained should take place together with parents. Currently most schools have no such evaluations or procedures in place for parents to communicate to the management what they feel about their children’s teachers. While it’s so much easy for us to complain about the dirty toilet at school, it is very nerve racking for us parents to complain about the person who is educating our child and spending a good 25 to 30 hours a week with him.
Communication is very important, if you believe your child may be being bullied at school. You’ll notice obvious changes in his behaviour and at most times he will be withdrawn, less inclined to communicate and divulge details. Be at it, constantly talk, ask short questions. Questions like ‘How was school?’ will usually result in answers like “Okay”, “Good”, or “Bad”. Most kids, particularly if they are being bullied will find it difficult to express exactly what they feel. They know better than to be disrespectful to elderly authority figures like teachers. You will need to be tricky and ask them questions that can needle out information. Be specific and ask questions like, “How was maths class?”, “What did you do during snack time?”,” How is Sanjeeva?”. Needle out information all the time! I know I’m such a pain to my son, because I have a lot of questions but I do this now because I need to be on ‘top of everything”. Usually you’ll be able to pick up on things from these questions and you’ll have more to ask.
Having said all this, like you and I both know, not all teachers are bullies. I have come across many sweet natured teachers who have taken so good care of my son and his friends. I have also come across teachers who while being firm are sensitive to children’s needs but may not be sugar and all things nice all the time. There is a line to cross and when a teacher crosses that line, it can cause irreparable damage. The head teacher in my son’s class has such wonderful skills, she has a way of talking to them and even uses a cute made up language which I feel helps them maintain their innocence for a little while longer. She never uses the words ‘Shut Up’ instead uses the word Shushie! This to me is so much less aggressive.
Here is my humble request to all Teachers out there. We do appreciate everything you do for our kids. Most of you are like second mothers who wipe their noses, open their water bottles and help pack their bags but please be mindful. Your behaviour towards our children can make them or break them. We leave them with you with such expectations but most of all with the hope that you love them as much as we do. They’re young once, help them be young. We appreciate all the hard work you put into lesson planning and all the long hours you’re up on your feet, but please think before you speak to them harshly, these are small children who cannot defend themselves verbally.
While I end this article, I have to say my school management took up my ‘complaint’ very seriously and for that I am grateful, I would not have liked to remove my son from the school for so many reasons. My son literally changed overnight after I addressed this issue. I could see him becoming brighter, less sullen. He laughs more and is so much happier. I’m glad I did what I did and regret not doing it sooner. He would have been happier the last one and half years if I had stepped up to doing what I should have done. It taught me an important lesson – nothing, absolutely nothing is more important than the welfare and happiness of my child. While we may not be able to provide solutions to everything all the time, we can try, because we must!
This article first appeared on The Island and was written by MumsiblesG.
MumsiblesG – is a Mommy Blogger who specialises in keeping kids entertained with arts, crafts and activities to do in and around Colombo. You will find her at most times trying to bake but often praying to the Baking Gods that her recipes come out edible. She believes that from all the different faces and phases in her life, none can compare to Motherhood. She is absolutely passionate about spending quality time with her Son and her Hubby! If she isn’t blogging she’s either teaching yoga or busy reading books while enjoying a cup of herbal tea!
Follow her on twitter – @luckrng and follow us on twitter – @mumsibles