“Aren’t You Afraid Someone Will Get Mad?” The Green Eyed Monster Side to Early Education

green eyes

Aren’t you afraid someone will get mad?

I’m asked this question more often then I would like to admit.

It’s not because I am trying to provoke anyone.  Generally I am baffled by this question because it emerges from something I am doing with good intentions.

For example, I created an award this year to recognize the Rapid City Early Childhood Educator of the Year.  I formed the committee, found the sponsors,  tracked down qualified judges, organized nominations, all the way down to picking up the plaque from the awards shop.  I created this award for a few reasons, but primarily because I feel it is important that our community recognize the contribution of early childhood educators.

After the award was presented, I was attending an early childhood education conference.  A woman approached me and our conversation went something like this:

Her: “I think it’s so great that you created that award, but aren’t you afraid someone will get mad?”

Me: “I didn’t look at it from that perspective, who do you feel would get mad?”

Her: “Oh I don’t know.  Someone who didn’t win.  There are so many good providers that you don’t think it might make people jealous?”

Hmm.  Though not my philosophy, she makes a good point about perspective.  In an already disconnected and divided early childhood education environment, had I exacerbated the situation by singling out stellar educators?

Jealousy can be toxic in any environment.  In the business world, healthy competition is good.  If  the standard is raised for the teachers and centers around you, it doesn’t edge out the quality ones, it edges out the poor quality ones.

I had some staff in a tither about a year ago because a new center had opened in our area.  They were concerned that because it was a large center it would affect our business.  My response to that is if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing (running a high quality child care) then we have nothing to worry about.  If we aren’t doing that, then we have much bigger problems then someone else opening a center.  The BEST case scenario is that this center will add another quality program to our community, and we can celebrate another step to improving the standard of care for our city.

Jealousy can also be a positive.  If you are feeling envy, then that may give you solid indicators of what goals you want to set for yourself for improvement.  Not that I’m encouraging you to turn to the “dark side” and use the power of your anger to improve.  Allow yourself to feel the initial emotion, take a look at where it’s coming from, and come up with a positive plan for where you can progress.  If it’s a jealousy issue with an instructor you work with, how can you put yourself on an achievement plan similar to theirs?  Maybe it’s time to upgrade that CDA to an associate’s degree.  Perhaps you can look at some new emerging teaching techniques you want to try in your classroom.  If you have a center, maybe it’s time to shake up your program, or implement that creative new idea you’ve been too afraid to try.  After you create a positive action plan, let go of the bad karma.  Take a deep breath in, wish the object of your jealousy well, exhale, and let it go.

Support the professionalism of early childhood educators.  One of my biggest subjects I push is the advocacy for the professionalism of early childhood educators.  Part of that professionalism is demonstrating civility toward one another, and celebrating the successes of our peers.  An industry devoid of peer support is not a professional one.  We can’t be in competition with each other, either as individual teachers or as centers.  We have to be in competition with ourselves.  The universe will sort out the rest.

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