Teaching isn’t a competition, but it can often feel that way. Schools make tests scores a competition putting teachers at odds with one another and not wanting to collaborate for the fear their fellow teacher will out do them if they share their strategies. Other schools give out quarterly teacher awards in which some teachers win money for out performing their colleagues, and some schools make teachers feel guilty for not being their 14 hours a day like so and so. It creates an environment of resentment and fear, instead of a collaborative environment where teachers can help and support one another.
This competition model of teaching does not bring out the best in teachers, but instead pushes out a lot of teachers out the door. In a previous post Positivity = Better Work?!, I mention a Ted Talk where Shawn Achor talks about the science behind getting better work from employees, and competition is not the answer. While schools need to change the culture they’re creating, you can take control of how you feel when put in these situations by changing your mindset and habits.
- Remember that just because another teacher is a great teacher doesn’t mean you can’t be too. There is no rule that says there is only x number of great teachers are allowed in one school. Be a great teacher in your own way without comparing yourself to others.
- Be willing to share what works and doesn’t work in your classroom even if other teachers aren’t. Someone has to start the collaborative culture, so be the first if you have to. If other teachers currently do, then join in. Make it the norm in your school.
- If you see another teacher excelling at what you are struggling with, ask them for advice. On the other side, if you see a teacher struggling with something you excel at then share what you know.
- Change your mindset. If you’re principal is praising another teacher, be happy for that teacher. This goes back to the first tip; there’s room for more than one great teacher. Don’t let yourself get drawn into a competition with them.
- Be easy on yourself. You’ll have great days, weeks, and months, and you’ll have hard ones. Don’t beat yourself up over the small things. If things aren’t going well, reflect and think with a solution mindset, not a negative one.