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Leaving the Classroom Episode 8: Gaslighting | The Narcissist Tendencies in Education Part 4

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Leaving the Classroom: A Transitioning Teacher Podcast

Gaslighting: The Narcissist Tendencies in Education Part 4

I don't know why you're making such a huge deal of this. You're being overly sensitive. You are being so dramatic. This is gaslighting; and teachers hear it all the time. Today, I share examples of gaslighting that were sent to me by teachers in my mentor group at IDOL courses Academy.

Listen to the episode here:

Connect with Kristi on LinkedIn 

Enjoy the podcast transcription:

The opinions expressed within this podcast are solely mine, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Idol courses, or its affiliates. This episode contains content that may be alarming to some listeners. Please check the show notes for more detailed descriptions and take care of yourself.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to leaving the classroom. I'm Kristi Oliva. And I'm so glad you are here. We are continuing with our series called the narcissist traits of education. And we've been talking about some of the catchphrases that teachers hear from parents, other teachers, their administration, so many things that we hear as teachers that are toxic positivity, and more specifically, today we're going to talk about gaslighting, which is a narcissistic trait that we can see in the education system as well. And here's how, first of all, gaslighting is a manipulation of another person into doubting their own perceptions, experiences or understanding of events. It's when people say things like, I don't know why you're making such a big deal out of this, or you're being too sensitive, or wow, you are so dramatic. And the outcome of that is it makes you think, gosh, am I crazy? Is that really what happened? I mean, is this normal? Am I doing too much? And to be honest, this was so ingrained in me from the education system that now I see myself in corporate asking myself those same questions all the time. But in fact, I'm told no, that's, you know, it is normal, what you're feeling and that's okay to feel that way instead of it being pushed down the way it was when I was an educator.

Alright, so the same way that I did before, I asked the teachers in my mentor program at IDOL courses Academy to submit to me some of their examples of gaslighting in the education system. And so I have a couple for you. The first one says, I was bit and kicked by a student, let's just stop right there for a second. Unacceptable, right? And yet very normal in the education system, especially if you work with certain populations in the school. Okay, so I was bitten kicked by a student, I let the principal know, he asked. So why did she do that to you? Did you instigate this? Mind you I was a first grade teacher. So I'm sorry. But your first instinct is to say, Well, what did you do to that first grade child to make them bite you and kick you. I mean, this is a young enough student where maybe the kicking, I can like, maybe brush off a little bit because I have a daughter that's in first grade. But to be honest, she doesn't kick me so I don't understand this. So then to then ask that teacher, what did you do to make this happen is gaslighting. Because it immediately makes that teacher and I can't put this on the teacher, but it would make me feel like oh, shoot. I mean, did I What did I do? And it would make me replay that situation over and over again and try to think of what did I do? What did I do? Could I have prevented this. And that's an easy way to gaslight teachers is to make them think of how they could have done anything differently to change that situation, when really, the situation was completely inappropriate, and not okay. They shouldn't have had to deal with it.

Here's another one. And this one points to the fact that it's not always the administrators. Now, we've been given administrators a pretty hard time on my podcast, but I know that there's great administration. And when I say administration, I'm going all the way up to the top of the food chain, okay? It's not just principals and vice principals, we go all the way up to the top because most of the principles I've had have been wonderful, supportive people, but they're also fighting the same toxic culture. But listen, it is now permeated into the parents, we now hear the same types of things from parents that make you feel like you are the problem as a teacher, you could have done something different, you should have done something different. And so here's an example that from one of my mentees, one of my students came to me to ask if I could write a college letter of recommendation which I write them when I can and I could only write a few per year, I politely asked if she could find another teacher and she understood and found another one pretty quick. She knew I felt terrible, typical people pleaser over here to tell her no, but she understood it was a peak time of year when a bunch of project deadlines hit. She even said in her question to me, I know this is bad time, but cut to I received an email from the parent that night. And my principal was cc'd the dad told me how appalled and disappointed he was that I wouldn't agree to write a letter that his daughter's needs should take precedence over anything else. And he never knew a teacher to be so selfish. Yes, how selfish of that teacher to simply ask if there was another way for that student to approach this when they waited till the last minute. And see, just can't with this. Because I bet you this teacher already felt bad enough, because they probably love that student wanted to help that student. But we have to draw a line, we have to make boundaries. And to be honest, let's put this in the adult world. Okay, real quick. Let's say, in my current job, I asked my manager to write me a letter of recommendation for my next job, she knew I was leaving. So she wouldn't have had a problem. But I asked during peak time on my team, where there's no way she has time, she really has time to do what she needs to do. So she just says, this time I can't. Is there anybody else that maybe has the bandwidth? And then let's just imagine that I write her an email and cc her boss and talk about how disappointed I am and that I can't believe how selfish she is being. The entitlement that these toxic parents and I'll just call them toxic parents, because again, there are so many supportive, wonderful parents in the school system. But there are some toxic parents who buy into this whole notion that we need to be just dropping everything for their kids. And this could start a whole nother series, I bet that all the teachers listening can tell me so many stories about things that you've been asked to do for kids. I've been asked to remind kids about things that have nothing to do with school. I mean I could go off on a tangent here. But the truth is, these parents also submit to this toxic positivity or this gaslighting culture that everything is our fault and turn it around where no, it couldn't possibly be that your daughter waited till the last minute when there wasn't going to be enough time for that teacher to help her no, it's the teacher being selfish. Oh, it's so so frustrating.

All right, on that same vein, I've got a couple of examples here that I found of some speakers that have these amazing speeches, or TED Talks that they give that are now being fed to teachers at the beginning of the year by administration. And it's nothing short of toxic positivity and gaslighting. So the first one, and again, I'm not saying these speeches are not motivating or great, but it might not be the best thing for teachers who are already having a really hard time. So the first one is a speech called Handle Hard Better by Carol Lawson. And this teacher wrote to me and said, our teacher delivered a message at the beginning of the year about how it's not going to get easier in our field. What we have to do is handle hard better. This is gaslighting.

This is turning it back on the teachers and saying, since we're not doing anything about the fact that the education system is broken, since we're not and again, I'm not expecting principals to be the answer to this. But I mean, there's a greater problem here, right? The problems that are happening in education are not because teachers don't know how to handle hard or don't know how to handle anything. It's simply that it's being pointed out again and again with what's happening in our world that there is something else wrong with our education system in general. So telling the teachers that they just need to handle it better, is so incredibly toxic and so inappropriate and not motivational at all. I don't know if any of those teachers could have walked out of there feeling motivated and equipped to do well.

Alright, the next one is Every Kid Needs a Champion by the late Rita Pearson. Now this one, I think we've all heard it as teachers. It discusses the importance of forming strong bonds with students. She states that kids don't learn from people they don't like. Ah, this is untrue. It's not true and it's not real life. Every student and teacher are not going to have a great relationship that is impossible, unreasonable, and not okay to ask of teachers, because again, it's not up to the kids, it's up to the teachers, this is another piece of pressure put on the teachers, you have to make every kid like you. And how crazy is that? I taught middle school for most of my teaching career. So I had not just 30 students a year, but close to 150. Each year, there is no way all 150 of those students are going to like me, and that's not my fault, or my responsibility to take that on. This puts so much pressure on teachers to get along with each student to pander to each student to make sure that they like you. And then some of these toxic parents have bought into this. And so I've received so many emails and complaints throughout the years about oh, well, they they say that you don't like them? And to be honest, maybe that's true. Maybe I didn't like them. But do you really think as a professional, that I would downgrade that student's grade, or work or whatever, because I didn't like them? If anything, I mean, let's just be perfectly honest, if I was corrupt as a teacher, if anything, I would want to pass them out of my grade level as quickly as possible. So really, the solution I would have chosen if I were going to be a corrupt teacher was to give them all A's and say I did not want to see you in my class ever again. You are so smart you gotta get out of here. That's not what happens though. And guess what? Teachers don't do this. I'm sure there's a bad egg out there. Aren't there bad egg everywhere though in every profession? But that does not mean that all teachers are doing this because they don't like students and it's not up to you teachers to make sure every kid likes you. It's not okay, that's gaslighting.

Now listen, there is a way out teachers there are other things that you will be successful at besides teaching. So if you are done with this, if you are so tired from dealing with the toxic positivity with the gaslighting, with all the terrible things that you deal with day in and day out as a teacher, please let us help you. Over at Idol courses Academy we serve teachers, we serve anyone who wants to move into the instructional design and online learning field.

But teachers I've got a soft spot for you and I mentor for IDOL courses Academy. So when you join, use my code CLASSROOM100. You're gonna get $100 off enrollment, and you can join my mentor sessions, where I know where you're coming from. I see you, I was you. And I've come out on the other side. It's time for you to take control and make the career change that will change your life. It sure changed mine. I'll see you next time.

Send your stories or your questions to [email protected] or share them with me on Instagram  @leavingtheclassroom.