Today I went to lunch with a teacher friend.
She is someone I didn’t connect with when I first met her and, unfortunately, I didn’t hide my feelings very well. But maybe that was for the best because one day she confronted me and we agreed to talk.
I told her that I was feeling left out of the relationship that she had with our other team member. I told her that was why I thought I was being “snarky” – her word, not mine – but certainly an accurate description of my behavior towards her.
After that conversation I made a conscious effort to listen more and be less “snarky”, and it worked.
I am not proud of the way I interacted with this teacher and I’ll always be grateful that she didn’t excuse or ignore my behavior.
Since then I’ve leaned something important about myself: I sometimes look for an adversary and have used this to play the victim, rather than to forge connections. Whether or not I was “right” and they were “wrong” or I thought I was a better teacher than they were, I missed many opportunities to learn and grow from these encounters. And, although I have sometimes been right in my assessment of some colleagues I’ve worked with, negatively perseverating on those relationships never added value to my life. In fact, it often detracted from my sense of well-being both at school and at home.
If I were to mentor a new teacher now I would say many things, but most importantly I would recommend that they nurture relationships rather than destroy them, no matter how difficult that may be. I would also tell them to keep work conflicts at work where they belong.
My teacher friend and I had a really pleasant lunch. We mostly talked about things unrelated to school. In fact, our shop talk lasted for about 10 minutes, which is not usually the case when I get together with other teachers.
I know that focusing on regrets is not a good way to live life, but I think it’s important to recognize the mistakes we’ve made and how things could have been different if we’d chosen a different path. I am not beating myself over the head about this. On the contrary, I am thankful that I learned a big life lesson as a result.
Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.