Gaslighting teachers has been a real problem for decades. Teachers are expected to do their jobs without complaint because “they signed up for this career.” Teachers are labeled as lazy, whiny, or entitled if they complain about their pay, lack of resources, or working conditions. Media outlets, school administration, and society as a whole are all guilty of undervaluing the experience of teachers. Unfortunately, teachers also fall into the trap and gaslight each other. And social media makes it easy for anyone to participate in gaslighting.
What does gaslighting mean?
According to Healthline, gaslighting is a form of abuse that’s all about taking power away from the victim. It’s based on manipulating a person to question their own thoughts, feelings, and memories. Victims of gaslighting begin to question themselves and often even their sanity.
Social media gaslighting of teachers
A recent scroll through a couple of teacher groups on Facebook quickly revealed three problematic posts. At first glance, they seem uplifting. However, many teachers pointed out the posts were actually invalidating the experience of teachers by trying to force an overly positive mindset.
“Teachers are in it for the outcome, not the income.”
A meme that says, “Teachers don’t teach for the income. Teachers teach for the outcome,” has been circulating for years. While it comes across as motivational, it’s actually gaslighting teachers into feeling bad for expecting more money. Teacher pay is notoriously low compared to other professions that require college degrees and multiple certifications. Teachers are frequently made to feel guilty for wanting more pay since they’re doing the job “for the children.”
Yes, teachers love those lightbulb moments where they know they’re making a difference in the education of a child. However, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t expect to get paid a salary that doesn’t require them to take on second and third jobs.
Surgeons do their job for the outcome, too, but they receive fair compensation in addition to the satisfaction of positively impacting lives.
“Some of the greatest teachers of all times taught virtually.”
This meme features photos of TV legends Bob Ross, Steve Irwin, Mr. Rogers, and LeVar Burton. It says, “Some of the greatest teachers of all times taught virtually.” It seems flattering at first – comparing beloved celebrities to teachers. However, some commenters quickly pointed out this is actually another way of gaslighting teachers. It’s minimizing the struggles, stress, and workload teachers are facing today after being thrown into the world of remote teaching overnight. It’s saying, “You’re part of an elite crew – these celebrities nailed virtual teaching and you can, too!”
But these men weren’t actually teachers. They were television hosts. Mr. Rogers didn’t make one-on-one personal connections with dozens of students through a screen. Steve Irwin wasn’t responsible for grading biology papers. LeVar Burton didn’t spend his weekends researching the best strategies for emphasizing letter sounds when students can’t see your mouth and words are muffled with a mask. Bob Ross didn’t have assessments, benchmarks, IEPs, and evaluations to worry about. TV show hosts and actual teachers are not the same.
“2020 has actually been the best year of your life.”
“You’ve faced challenged, adapted, and overcome. 2020 has forced you to grow exponentially. Don’t take that for granted.” To add insult to this overly positive post, the teacher who posted it wrote, “Some of ya’ll really need to hear this.”
Ummm..2020 has been HARD for most of us personally and professionally. We won’t recap the whole year of pandemic teaching, but it’s okay to think of 2020 as trash-heap and not the “best year of your life.”
Teachers gaslighting teachers
Have you ever heard the saying, “Hurt people hurt people”? Well, gaslit teachers gaslight teachers. When you’ve had it jammed down your throat that you should be grateful, quiet, and overlook the problems in your profession it’s easy to spread that to your peers. Gas accelerates a fire and gaslit people accelerate the spread of suppressing teachers from voicing their very valid critique and concern.
Teachers should expect more pay. They should demand to be safe at work. No one should be working to exhaustion off the clock just in order to barely keep up with their responsibilities. We, as a society, need to support teachers more instead of trying to silence their voices.