To the student being bullied by their teacher:
You are valid.
Lining the hallways of most middle and high schools are posters all about how to recognize and stop bullying. These posters show students in situations with other students, and often times have the message that students should report what is going on to the teacher. But what if the teacher is the one being the bully?
Maybe your teacher calls you stupid or makes fun of your disability in front of the class. They might consistently not give you your accessible materials because they claim it’s pointless, you are a bad student. Often times, there are many things going on in these situations, with several incidents taking place before it’s finally reported.
You probably feel like this is all your fault, probably because your teacher put this thought in your head. You might wonder what life would be like without everyone knowing you have a disability, or even life without a disability at all. This leads to imagining life outside of the classroom, outside of school, or in extreme cases, outside of the world around you. You might rationalize all of the teacher’s actions because you think you deserve it. But you don’t.
I know it can be scary to report these teachers for bullying. They might be very popular amongst other students, and it’s difficult to imagine them in anything but a positive light. You don’t have to report the incident by exposing the teacher on the internet or hiring someone to do skywriting over your school. Just tell someone.
Whenever I was in a situation like this, I always told my guidance counselor. They helped me a lot by listening to me and making sure I knew my problem and frustration were valid. They supported me as I reported these things to the principal, and kept my parents in the loop as well. I also reported these issues to my case manager and teacher of the visually impaired, but found that the guidance counselor was often the most effective person to talk to, since they could work behind the scenes and investigate what was going on.
The teacher might lash out again after you report them, but that’s because they are scared. Don’t redact your report, instead make sure to report the retaliation and add it to your initial report. I remember one time when I felt powerless against a math teacher, one of my close friends came over and talked to my mom and I for an hour about how we were doing the right thing by reporting them, because this teacher had targeted many other students in the past. Speaking up now can help save other students in the future.
Lastly, don’t expect long term change to come quickly. I remember my feelings of shock and anger vividly as I learned that those teachers who had bullied me were still at the school, seeming like they were untouched. My mom reminded me that the best revenge is living well, and that I should not let that anger and bitterness consume me, and you should do the same. Channel your energy into more positive things- develop your skills, learn to advocate for yourself and others, and grow from these experiences. It may be hard to see it now, but things do get better, and college is different.
So, to the student being bullied by their teacher, I understand your struggle, and I hope you remember that you belong and you are valid. I’m here for you if you need me, ok?
A student that was just like you