Being a kid sucks. It’s hard. I don’t remember it being this difficult. Or maybe it was and I erased it from my memory.
The bullying amongst my students is disgusting. Every day I address it directly and indirectly. Every day I address it to the class and individually. My scolding, lecture, pleading, or what have you, falls on deaf ears (of most of the boys). They refuse to change… they don’t realize it’s just a vicious circle. NO, you do not need to have the last word; just bite your tongue and sit your ass down.
But are they just being typical preteen boys? Where do I draw the line between “just being boys” (or kids, in general) and bullying? Where does my responsibility for their actions and words end? Do they ever? I don’t want to look back and say I didn’t do
anything enough. I obviously don’t condone their behaviour, but by ignoring it (because they ignore my daily speeches), will they manipulate that non-action and misunderstand their malicious behaviour as “appropriate” classroom behaviour?
And then aside from the verbal bullying, there’s the social or covert bullying that goes on that the kids don’t even recognize. Isolation is a form of bullying. Telling everyone that so-and-so is not good in such-and-such subject is kind of a douche move. What gives you the right to spread that around? Does it concern you? Nope. Talking about another classmate’s weaknesses as if that classmate isn’t there, and if said classmate is there, talking about it as if that classmate doesn’t understand English. Get off your pedestal, child. It killed me to have a student tell me how scared (s)he was to speak up in class because of the other students. I never felt more helpless as a teacher.
And worst part is that these kids DO get it – they know what they’re doing is wrong, but they don’t give a rat’s ass. They do what they have to do to make themselves feel all high and mighty, and the other student to feel like utter crap. And then God forbid somebody disciplines them for their wrong behaviour. Suddenly, I’m the wicked witch of the west. How dare I ask them not to be jerks and assholes to each other. But if I say nothing… Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.”
– Theodore Roosevelt