Saturday, February 21, 2009

First place or first loser?

In an effort to promote team-building, my principal has created a team competition in which teachers, divided into four teams, participate in a variety of activities for points. At the end of the school year, the team with the most points wins a day off...a prize worth fighting for. And make no mistake, people are fighting for it. Yesterday, we held a scavenger hunt in which we had to find students who met different descriptive criteria. Watching my colleagues scheme and even cheat to win has been a revelation.

I have worked with Linda for almost nine years now. Our classrooms have always been adjacent to one another. We collaborate on lessons, eat lunch together, organize Friday happy hour together, and over the years we have become close friends. We have even vacationed together a couple of times. I have seen a side of her this year I never knew existed...the cutthroat, win-at-all-costs side. Linda doesn't even like sports (ironic since her daughters are athletes), but by golly she is competitive. I watched her rip a $2 bill out of one kid's hand and put it in another's so we could get a box checked off. She growled at the administrator when it was disqualified. The best part was when after seeing another team had finished, she said "shit" to the principal who gave her a referral for cursing an administrator. I think she has detention next Tuesday.

I think all of us have a competitive streak, and honestly I don't trust someone who says they don't. We all want to succeed, and we want others to acknowledge that success. It's not enough for me to write. I want lots and lots of people to read my books. I walk through bookstores and visualize my book on the bestseller shelf. Of course, I'll keep writing regardless.

Our team initially came in second, and I was bitter too. I told my first hour class that second place was really just the first loser.'s that for boosting their self-esteem? As it turns out, the winning team had one of their entries disqualified because they used the same kid twice. So we tied for first place. We're still in second overall. We have to put some kind of basket together for Easter next month. Linda is already making plans to sabotage our rivals!


  1. I laughed out loud when I read this. You're absolutely right about Mum; she's wicked competitive. Ask her about the year she won the Derby pool. She didn't even watch the damn race and yet she gloated for at least 30 minutes.

  2. My mother is absolutely one of the most competitive people I've ever met. I literally laughed out loud when I read the part about her ripping the $2 bill out of kid's hand. THAT is classic Mum.

    Ask her about the time she won the Derby pool. she didn't even watch the damn race, yet she gloated for close to an hour...LOUDLY.