Magazine Feature

Toolkit for Abuse of Power

Teacher bullying is terrifying and harmful to students. This toolkit helps you reflect on the realities of bullying and how you can work against it.

It is difficult to confront the fact that the adults children trust most can also put them in danger. Yet it is only by confronting and talking about bullying that we can bring it to an end. This toolkit gives you a chance to reflect privately and honestly on times you might have bullied, have been tempted to bully or have come close to bullying. You will also consider times you have witnessed bullying behavior or behavior that approaches bullying on the part of your colleagues. Then, you will think about ways to stop teacher bullying.


Essential Questions

  1. What is teacher bullying?
  2. What motivates teachers to bully students?
  3. What actions can we take to stop our selves and colleagues from bullying students?



After reading the article “Abuse of Power,” use these questions to guide personal reflection or group discussion.

The following questions are designed as a practical exercise to promote intentional dialogue among school staff about bullying behavior toward students. 

  1. Whose responsibility is it to approach a colleague with concerns about his/her troublesome conduct toward students? Why?
  2. What is the best way to approach a colleague who appears to bully students? How should we not approach that colleague?
  3. How would you respond to student or parent disclosures about a teacher/coach who is alleged to bully students?
  4. How would staff relations be affected by reporting to a supervisor that a colleague is persistently mean toward students? How would staff relations be affected by remaining silent?
  5. What is an appropriate consequence for a teacher/coach who behaves in mean-spirited ways toward students?
  6. To what extent should complaints about bullying behavior by a colleague be considered in performance evaluations?
  7. What should be done when a principal (or other administrator) does not respond to credible allegations of a colleague’s bullying behavior toward students?
  8. How should we help new teachers who feel demoralized by the bullying behavior of a colleague?

The following prompts can be used to guide personal reflection and writing about teacher bullying.

  1. Describe a time a student made you really angry, upset or frustrated. How did you respond in this situation? Were you tempted to respond differently?
  2. Describe a time you behaved toward a student in a way you do not feel proud of. What was motivating you? If you could, how would you handle the same situation differently?
  3. Describe a time you saw a colleague bully a student or act in a way that approached bullying. How did you respond in this situation? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
  4. What are some ways you can stop yourself and colleagues from engaging in bullying behavior? Try to be as honest as you can in terms of what you think is feasible but still productive.