This post is the fourth in a five-part series.
In my first three posts I shared the five components of the SNAIL Method of revitalizing staff morale. For this post I will offer my thoughts on the third component.
Stand up and take pride in our profession
Never pass up the opportunity to show appreciation
Acknowledge when things aren’t working and develop a new plan
Ignite a spirit of collaboration not competition
Let go of old hurts or jealousies
Competition has its place, especially in sports. However, it often has far reaching negative consequences that were most likely never intended. I found some quotes that I am using to spark conversation on this topic.
“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.”-Ayn Rand
Pinterest, while one of my favorite sites, is the culprit of many competitions in a school. Teachers compete to have the best bulletin board, door, or classroom decoration. Forgetting mind you, that none of these are as important as who and what we teach. I’ve seen teachers get upset when they realize that both found the same idea and wanted to be the only one to use it. Why? If it’s what is in the best interest of your students, wouldn’t you want to share that so that more students could benefit?
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”-Harry S. Truman
This one is hard. Everyone wants to be recognized for their work, but what if recognition becomes ego and competition? What if more focus is placed on whose idea it was or who did the most work, rather than on how it affects students? Praise accomplishments, but not to the point that the individual is placed on a pedestal and how their accomplishments affect students is forgotten.
“Life is not a competition, life is about helping and inspiring others so we can each reach our potential.”-Kim Chase
“I’m not interested in competing with anyone. I hope we all make it.”-Erica Cook
Competition has a place in the world, but is a school the right place for it? Sure, good healthy competition in theory would help you improve. What if, however, it breeds resentment and mistrust? Our focus should be on competing with ourselves and becoming the best teacher we can be. We should also be focused on working together to make each other a better teacher. In doing so our students and school benefit.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”-Henry Ford
It’s important for administrators to think about which teachers work well together, complement each other, and genuinely wish to be together. Genuinely wanting to be together on a team helps breed trust and the ability to be risk takers when trying new strategies. Teachers are more apt to grow when given a safe place to do so. This in turn creates teams who become more focused on working together for student and professional success. When all this is in place you get a staff who would never dream of teaching anywhere else. Stability in staff creates the opportunity for innovation.
When schools focus on collaboration for student success and professional growth, morale can only increase. Teachers who enjoy their job, and the people they work with, are more focused on creating positive learning experiences for students.