While serving on the board of a local community agency, a certain personality type came to my attention: teacher’s pet. Yes, these people are alive and well and living as adults. Surprisingly it’s not something one grows out of when he or she leaves school; rather, the behavior seems to evolve and follow the person into adulthood. I use the term “teacher’s pet” loosely here because I don’t know how else to describe it, so I will try my best to give examples. Back to this person on the board – it starts when the person stops the flow of the meeting to contribute to every item on the agenda. I think it’s good when people participate and share their ideas, but there is a fine line when their comments and “helpful” suggestions cross the line into being disruptive. Case in point – at a meeting recently, an item on the agenda involved discussing traveling to Chicago for a board training seminar. The teacher’s pet of the group spoke up and went into great detail about how the board of this organization should actually be taking more than one vehicle on trips like these in case something happens to the vehicle. He explained that if the vehicle carrying the entire board of the organization were to crash or something else horrible were to happen, we would no longer have a board if the President, Vice President, etc. were all riding together. Good point, but a little extreme, I would say… This board is not in charge of running a country or anything close to that scale. I’m not saying that it’s not important or that steps should not be taken to safegaurd the staff involved, however, I don’t think dividing up into 2 vehicles has anything to do with preventative safety and actually seems like it might put a strain on the budget (insert another gas prices gripe here). It’s a good idea for the President and Vice President of the United States and other heads of government to travel separately but when talking about this particular group it just doesn’t seem like a logical idea, especially not an idea that should have taken 20 minutes or longer to discuss.
A second example of adult teacher’s pet behavior happens often in community theater. My husband and I are active in our local theater group, and while directing a few plays together, we’ve come across at least one individual who was a bit over eager to please the directors. Again, don’t get me wrong, enthusiasm, especially for community theater, is a great thing. But when you interrupt the process of producing a play in order to offer “helpful” suggestions that aren’t really helpful at all and just keep the entire group waiting for you to finish talking, then it’s probably better if you just let the director do what he or she needs to do. It’s also especially annoying when people offer things to help with the show; be it labor, props, etc. only to not follow through and actually deliver the work and/or goods. Makes me think they were just sucking up to the directors!
So when I say ‘teacher’s pet’, I guess I just mean those people who are so overzealous about showing and proving to others that they are participating in the group that they come forth with ideas that aren’t always well thought out. Like I said, it’s not that I discourage contribution, and by no means should people be made to feel that their ideas are stupid, however, they should use discretion in bringing up topics that are relevant to the conversations at hand and also make sure that they are going to follow through with what they say they will contribute.
POST DISCLAIMER: None of the above comments have anything to do with anyone who is a regular reader of my blog!!! 🙂