It is in our nature to compete. Most of us are taught at a young age to compete, to be the best and do our best, but at what cost? Have you ever noticed that teachers are especially competitive!? We are the worst! Why? What is it about teaching that creates a competitive environment?
While competition can be positive, negative competition can add stress to your day and decrease trust and collaboration. Competition in teaching is created by observations, evaluations, test scores, social media, and who is doing what in their classroom. But why does this have to exist? Why can’t we lift each other up for the amazing things we do? In my opinion, competition should make us better! Better teachers who are more likely to strive for mastery. Applaud your colleagues and share in their excitement that they have tried something new! If your colleague is better at their job, won’t it make you better at yours?
Some of our colleagues get so wrapped up in the competition part of teaching that they are failing to see the exciting lessons others are creating and not becoming a better teacher themselves. How can we personally continue to be amazing without being overly competitive? Continue to be you! Continue to have fun in your class! Continue to create awesome lessons. Other teachers will get over it, OR…they won’t, but to be honest, it is not about them! It is about you creating the best learning environment in your class for your students in that moment. Once we stop judging each other and what we are doing in the classroom, we would build a stronger environment and create better relationships amongst all faculty and staff. This would surely build a culture that people want to be a part of!!
Now, I am not saying that there are not ways to improve our craft, but being overly competitive while doing it isn’t going to create a collaborative culture that allows a school building to thrive. Here are a few things to try in order to combat the competitiveness:
First, let go! Let go of how you think your colleagues perceive you. Why do you care so much about what others think of you? If you are doing your job with integrity and authenticity, what the hell are you so worried about? Second, think about whether or not this “thing,” this “issue,” is going to matter a week from now, a month from now, a year. Sometimes we have to rise up and confront the situation in order to grow and evolve. Third, continue your education. Do the best you can to keep learning. Learn about your content area, learn about how to be a good leader, or learn about how to improve school culture. Any way you do it, continue educating yourself about the profession. Fourth, don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison sucks the creativity and joy right out of a teacher’s life. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. But we also have to be willing to own up to any mistakes and risks we make in order to improve and learn from. Fifth, stay away from negative people. Don’t be accessible to those who put you down. Finally, find ways to relieve stress. Whatever makes you happy, find joy in it and go do it. Massage, manicure/pedicure, exercise, connect with friends or family, meditate, etc. etc. Ultimately there is going to be competition in teaching, however, you have control over how you deal with that competition. GO OUT THERE AND BE FIERCE!