A misuse of power

My name is X and I’m invisible. I don’t talk behind peoples’ backs, I don’t like drama. I like teaching. I didn’t really know what bullying was, at least not when I was a student. I knew it could happen at work, but I didn’t, and still don’t know, if that’s what really happened to me.
In my last school I witnessed a number of situations that involved someone in a higher hierarchy position bullying teachers. For years I kept quiet. I needed my job, I thought somehow it was all my fault. I thought that if I worked harder, if I was nicer and didn’t stand out, it would stop. It didn’t. It got worse. Two years ago I had to start therapy. Last year the doctor put me on antidepressants. Some months ago my health started to get worse and my body was screaming for help. I kept quiet, took more pills. I had (and still have) nightmares about the school. I went to bed and got up thinking about my DoS, I would have imaginary arguments with her while I was driving, letting out all that I couldn’t really say to her. I used to go to work anxious, not knowing whether she’d be in a good mood or not. What would she be complaining about that day. Some days I used to drive around, waiting until she had left and only then would I park and go to the school. I tried to meet her as little as I could. I didn’t want to hear her comments about other teachers. I did not want to hear her complain about her life, how much work she had, how incompetent everyone who worked at the school was. How she had blocked this and that teacher on Instagram because they had not invited her to a party or because they somehow threatened her authority. I didn’t want to hear the racist and homophobic jokes.
At some point I was forbidden to have ideas. Everything had to run through her. I had no autonomy whatsoever. She paid no attention to any of the work I did, but then would interfere with or sabotage it. Kept making me feel I was nothing. When someone praised my work she was quick to say it was no big deal and suggested I probably had had help or probably hadn’t done it myself. My health deteriorated and the doctor urged me to find another job. He increased my medication. I started having blood pressure problems. One day I went to a conference and decided to open up with a teacher I didn’t know very well, but for some reason I trusted her. I didn’t say much, but listened to her advice. I realized I was not alone. That my DoS wasn’t as powerful as she pretended to be. That day when I got home I realized I couldn’t go on like that. I decided to quit. I love teaching. I loved my projects and the team I worked with, but I felt isolated and didn’t talk to almost anyone. I was even afraid to go out for coffee with other teachers because I didn’t want them to get into trouble. I respect my director, but I didn’t think he would do anything. Who would believe me? I was just a teacher, she a DoS. She could excuse herself with management decisions. I had no witnesses. She knew what she was doing.
It sounds stupid and it sounds as if I’m a little thing too scared to do anything. I’m not. I’m a good person, I teach really difficult kids, like everyone I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in life, but never like this. After I decided to leave I realized other people at the school also felt like I did. She wasn’t just doing it to me, though I think I was the worst case. I started looking back and thought about the teachers who had left and had indicated it had been because of her. There were three. This had happened before. People started coming up to me, asking me not to leave and immediately understood why I was leaving, even though I never said a word. I tried to tell my director, but I couldn’t say everything. I didn’t mention the worst things that had happened. He said he greatly admired my ethics and would try to find out what was going on.
You probably think I’m an idiot and that that’s why she managed to do what she did. Perhaps. But we don’t all learn in the same way, do we? So why would you expect me to react as you would?
Thanks to #ELTtoo I found the courage to speak up. Most of the time I didn’t know what I was experiencing. I just thought it was an aggressive management style and that I had to put up with it. It’s impossible for me to tell you all the things that happened over the years.
If you are going through the same, please share your story. Contact the site. You are not alone. I found out there are more people like me, but there are also those who are willing to help, to give us a voice. In the end, I did quit. It was me or her and I didn’t believe she would be fired. Now I would have done things differently. I would have fought back.
Think about it, think about me. My name is X and I’m a teacher.

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