The times they are a-changing

In March, the day before the world shut down and got flipped upside down and sideways, I resigned from my job. My job that I loved, that I was good at, that brought me happiness. With three months to go in the school year, I pulled the plug, abandoning my coworkers and students I worked with.

Why?

I found a position in a college as a counsellor that would challenge me.

But why was I looking for a new job mid-school year?

Because workplace bullying is real.

I’m only now, 6 months later, unpacking the damage that a coworker inflicted on me. She had our admin’s full support, who also partook in some intimidation tactics not appropriate of a “leader”; this teacher managed to bring a bunch of bushy-tailed, bright-eyed easily-influenced young teachers into her wolf pack. Life was not good this past school year, and now I find myself working through the effects of actual trauma.

Thanks, 🦄

I made it through the standard elementary school bullying like everyone else, I went through high school not caring what people thought, and pretty much came out unscathed. At 35, in a school of all places, I suddenly got it. Why people who have been bullied bring it up in the media, talk about it years later, are so impacted by it.

Doubt creeps in where it didn’t before. I imagine worst case scenarios, cried for months, and sometimes get stuck reliving it at night in my dreams.

All this because of a teacher and administrator and their pack of followers.

M, as I will call her, is out there teaching in a school I loved, living her best life, oblivious to how horrible she is, how she damages people, ruins teaching for them, pushes them out of the school. Instead, she pats herself on the back, loudly and publicly, for how much she cares.

And she does care. She cares about the students. I can’t fault her that. If she was a mediocre teacher she would have been held accountable years and victims ago (and there were others-they came forward to me when they saw what I was going through).

Why go after me, so relentlessly, so ruthlessly and so openly?

I don’t know. I could hypothetical-psychoanalyze about it. I’ve got some theories about both of them, and a few pages in the DSM-V bookmarked…

But none of it would excuse the behaviour. Or what she did to me.

What did she do, you ask?

She watched and waited, for any tiny mistake and pounced. Everything was amplified, shared with everyone in hearing distance, and she’s basically a foghorn who is trigger happy to CC the entire world on emails filled with CAPSLOCK and exclamations.

She sat in the staff room, trashing others who weren’t around, so it was no surprise to hear she did the same to me. Mean-spirited, career-damaging, based on fabricated stories and her warped perceptions.

Should’ve seen it coming at me, eh?

She started telling people that basically, I was incompetent. But not outright. She planted little pointed, planned comments here and there. Often, I wasn’t doing things that were actually impossible to do, or that I’d been instructed not to, but she would whisper to teachers that I wasn’t doing it, but that she would if she were in my position.

She got into a mess by coming into a staff room at one centre like a bull, so we switched some roles. She then insinuated I had dropped things, and kept quietly reminding other teachers that I wasn’t there, even though I wasn’t there because of the changes brought about because of her behaviour. Quietly pushing, encouraging, to the point another teacher felt it appropriate to take my desk, shoving all my belongings in a dirty Ikea bag in a closet, when I was on sick leave due to an accident I had.

She kicked up a stink about my not meeting with a student in the 3 weeks he was absent… and then sent a nasty email with the entire program staff in CC. One of whom, she of the Ikea bag, jumped in that even if I was on sick leave, I should have followed up on a dossier. Which M then responded to in a nasty email about me, CCing the boss, who took a week to check in, and tell me I was not allowed to contact HR or the union about the ongoing harassment as I cried at her to do something about the bullying.

A meeting was held, to talk about how I was singlehandedly responsible for a program not being supported. People at the school board level heard about it, and started looking at me side-eyed and awkwardly. A program that had more support than all the others combined… but again, all failures were on me.

She eviscerated colleagues for setting boundaries or disagreeing with her viewpoint, destroying mental health of those around her, with a smile, admonishing those around her who were unhappy to “move, you’re not a tree”.

I’m not a tree, trees can’t write. I can, and am putting it out into the world, to heal myself.

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