One of the first-grade math standards is to teach our students how to compare numbers. We do lots of fun things to make the abstract more concrete, like using manipulatives to build the numbers as well as using alligator mouths as symbols. There’s even a catchy song we sing, but I’ll spare you from getting it stuck in your head. The goal of comparing numbers is to determine which number is greater than, less than, or equal to. Sadly, we as teachers can find ourselves taking these concepts out of the math lessons and instead start comparing ourselves to each other. The result is the same—the act of comparison often leaves us feeling greater than or less than. This process hurts relationships, our profession, and ultimately ourselves. So, instead of comparing, what if we instead choose to celebrate?

  • Let’s Celebrate the Differences:

    The truth is that no two teachers are exactly the same. Just like our students, we bring different strengths, experiences, and gifts to the table. It’s important to remember that the table is big enough for each of us to have a place at it!

  • Let’s Celebrate the Victories:

    Whether it’s the teacher down the hall that just won a grant she worked really hard on, or a teacher you follow on Instagram that engaged her students with an incredible room transformation, celebrating each other’s wins promotes a culture where everyone thrives and is able to shine in their own unique way. Always strive to do your best as well as learn to be inspired by others, but know that each of your students has been placed in your room for a reason. Don’t allow comparison to rob you of the contentment, joy, and privilege we have of investing daily in the lives of students!

  • Let’s Celebrate the Team:

    Teamwork really is the dreamwork. From your principal to the guidance counselor, to your grade level partner, to the hard-working custodian—each person on your team plays an important role and holds knowledge and skills that you can learn from! Use the team you have around you to ask questions, bounce ideas, and glean wisdom. Their expertise is not a threat, it is an invitation to learn and grow. Collaboration is the key that unlocks success for not only us as teachers, but ultimately for our students too!

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Becca Foxwell

Becca Foxwell

Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year 2016-2017

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.