My parents used to tell me that one day my mouth will get me in trouble. I never listened. Call it thick-headedness or stupidity (probably the latter), but I just can't stop telling people what I think. If only I were smarter, I could be a politician!
Recently, the topic of intimidation has struck my fancy. Education Next profiles Michelle Rhee in their 2010 winter edition, and I'm sure there are people who feel intimidated by her approach. Me? I have a huge crush on her--but that's neither here nor there.
Unions are often claiming that administrators intimidate staff, but I've never been one to get bullied. I can't imagine every administrator I've had has always sung my praises; this blog is not anonymous, and I am not a close my door, do my job type of teacher. I have opinions.
What's interesting is that, while unions claim administrators bully, my experience is that many within the rank and file of the union feel more bullied by the union than anyone else. Heck, in most places, teachers are forced to pay agency fees to the union, even if the contract sucks. Give me free agency any day.
Teachers intimidate, too. I won't lie, I'm guilty. I try to intimidate my students with tough rules and killer grading. Once, a student told me, "Mr. Mac, you try to intimidate us, but you really aren't that tough." It killed me, and I loved it. There's nothing better than hearing someone firmly state their opinion with great confidence.
Students try to intimidate as well. I'm going to tell my mother, they threaten. Once, a student threatened me with that line (she'd arrived late and loudly protested the day's agenda when she arrived). "Go ahead. Take out your phone right now and call her," I said. I wasn't kidding, and the girl called home. Mom showed up by the end of the day; the two of us had a wonderful conversation about her daughter's behavior.
I think today's pop-culture calls it swagger, but whatever you call it, you might need to go get it.