SOLSC21, Day 29
We all know how teachers joke that handling and managing parents is way more difficult than handling and managing the kids. Well, handling and managing colleagues is not easy either! There are as many varieties as there are stars in the sky. They’re like zebras, no two of them come alike.
There’s that colleague who takes no stress about even the most stressful situations, and will instantly make you crack up with laughter. They’ll make light of every situation, knowing that everything passes. Many years ago, when I was still in my second year of teaching, I remember having gone to a colleague, crying, in the middle of class! Her room was right next to mine, and the kids were giving me such a hard time I started to cry! She spoke to the kids and handled the situation without embarrassing me in front of them for bursting out crying. Those kids turned out to be the batch that has stayed in touch with me even now! This was fourth grade, and they’re all in their junior year of college! I think such people make great therapists and counselors.
Then there’s that colleague who will sympathize with you, but will put on a different act with their ‘real’ friends. I’ve had colleagues who’d talk to me when they were alone, but when they were with their ‘group,’ they’d turn their nose up at me and walk past without even acknowledging my presence in the hallway! Maybe they need to explore an alternate career in acting?
There are those who are so busy pleasing the leadership that they really don’t care for what their teacher colleagues think. They don’t care about your opinion, they don’t care about the plans, they don’t care about any real collaboration. Their target is the admin; they nurture the perfect relationship with admin. This is a special art, or maybe a science, on how to make your inadequacies look like genuine mistakes and pretend to be ready to work through them and improve. But improvement is not on their agenda. They might have made better PR officers than teachers.
There are those who treat everything as a contest to be won! They will plan with you, and will then actually tweak their own lessons later, giving their students what they think is an edge, projecting themselves in a better light to families. “You’re trying this new strategy? I’ve tried it many times before.” They will also always try to undermine your capabilities. I have a colleague who tells me I get the extra responsibilities because I cannot say no. “I was asked first, I refused. You need to start saying no to all these extra burdens.” They will also try to very tactfully negate the work you do in your capacity as ‘the one with extra responsibilities.’ I’ve always wondered where such people get so much extra time from. Also, I think that politics is their forte, not teaching!
There are those who try to flatter you all the time too! While that should make anyone feel important and special, all they’re really doing is, again, covering up for their inadequacies. Small things like, “You looked great on Zoom today!” or “Red is your color!” Ask them about collaboration or about lessons, and you’ll realize there isn’t much there. Or that they’re aiming to give you their share of work because you looked great on Zoom today.
There are, of course, those who will always pay you a genuine compliment, and I suppose all it takes is a discerning eye to sift them from the type above. Unless, they’ve also mastered the science to an extent where even a discerning eye gets taken in by their flattery. The PR officer has a colleague already.
There are those colleagues who do their work very well, always on a trajectory of self-improvement, self-growth. Some of them want to be noticed for their efforts, and have this invisible megaphone they carry around to talk about their achievements, while some hate the spotlight and don’t want to become the center of attention. Probably like our frontline health workers who have silently and tirelessly worked through the past year to try to bring even a small smile to so many faces.
There are those gems also, who actually help you grow in your professional practice. They share their work, their learning, their ideas, and have no qualms about you getting better at your craft. They encourage you to become better than even themselves. They have not lost sight of the goal – student growth – and are willing to set aside their egos and their personal goals for that. Come to think of it, those are the ones who attain true personal growth. They are in the correct profession! They couldn’t have been anything else, but teachers!
Well, I guess “It Takes All Kinds to Make a World.” It would be so boring to go to work if we were not zebras, if we all had the same stripes, the same nature, same outlook!