Monday, October 19, 2015

"The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves." - William Penn

Jealousy has existed since the beginning of time.  Grudging, envious, invidious, green-eyed; emulous, covetous . . . all synonyms for the same terrible emotion. 

I taught Shakespeare's JULIUS CAESAR for 35 years, and the students each year were in disbelief about the plot line.  They could neither believe nor accept that Cassius could or would commit murder against his brother-in-law Caesar, just because of jealousy! Of course, Caesar was a real man with tremendous power, the ruler of all the known world, and Cassius was not the only one who despised Caesar for his power. From 44 B.C. to today, that emotion has not changed.

Although I understand jealousy, I wish it would not creep into faculty rooms and educational and administrative staffs.  For some reason, I think teachers should elevate themselves above such petty emotionalism. I was a teacher for 37 years, and I saw the green monster of jealousy on more than one occasion during my long career. I know that jealousy lurks in the hearts of many, but I think it is particularly despicable when jealousy resides in the hearts and minds of teachers. Teachers are supposed to be the bastions of goodness; masters of manners and knowing the answers about the right thing to do; role models of morality and good examples to emulate.  Jealousy just does not fit into anything about teachers, those ethereal mortals who shape young minds and lead by example.  

I know a teacher in another state who is an extremely hard worker.  Yes, I know that ALL teachers work hard, but this person also writes books (many books) and serves on state boards and gives webinars and is involved in school activities, all while raising a young family.  He is happy and excited that he is reaching some personal goals in his writing and his service, yet many of his colleagues, and, yes, even his administrators, are not supportive of his endeavors and accolades.  Why?  I'll give you one guess. . .  Jealousy.

Throughout my career, many of my former colleagues and I were nominees for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, the Wolfe Scholarship, the Gift of Time, and many other earned accolades.  I recall being stunned when I heard the award winners being bad-mouthed by a few jealous colleagues. When someone wins an award, I am happy for that person!  My thought process has always been: "Good for him/her!  He/she works so hard, and he/she deserves this great recognition."   It did not take me long to discover that most people do not share my thought process.

You know that I share my thoughts with you on all things Education in this blog, and also many personal feelings.  To my way of thinking, a teacher's work is already SO difficult: planning lessons; learning new gradebook systems; executing IEP's, keeping up with new technology; implementing said technology; attending staff and parent meetings; matching standards and the Common Core;  and the list could go on and on.  All of the daily decisions and the constant grind and ringing of the bell are cause enough for teacher burnout; backbiting and petty jealousies only add fuel to that fire.  Teaching is a lonely profession, and any time teachers have the chance to celebrate each other, they should. Kudos come few and far between, and colleagues should be able to lean on each other for support and encouragement.  

After all, our students are watching us and learning from us, even when we don't notice. What we teach today will reach past tomorrow.  

"I had many teachers that were great, positive role models and taught me to be a good person and stand up and be a good man. A lot of the principles they taught me still affect how I act sometimes, and it's 30 years later."    Kevin James

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