Saturday, April 23, 2005

What an interesting time at the office yesterday.

For those who don’t know, I work part time for a local school district. I teach for the online high school [reason one for the anonymity…], and I develop English curriculum for the school that helps virtual students learn what is essentially taught in the classroom. I know, really exciting.

Things I love about my job:

*I am allowed to work from home most of the week, and that allows me to set my own schedule.

*I am more of a writing/literature mentor than teacher; I truly have the opportunity to tailor the education to the student.

*Ironically, I know more of my students better now than I did in the classroom.

*I don’t have to deal with classroom discipline.

Things I hate about my job:

*I am required to go into the office one day a week. The computer I was working on until last week did not have a word processing program on it (did I mention I was an English teacher?), was not hooked up to a printer (good God Almighty, I might want to have a hard copy or two of student work, grade reports, attendance reports – yes, we have to take attendance; don’t ask – or anything else I might have the notion to print out), and actually has a slower internet connection than what I have at home (I swear I feel like I am hooked back up to a dial up modem when I am there – did I mention that I am an online teacher = lots of time on the Internet?).

*Most of my time is spent grading papers, and that is not the most fun part of teaching English.

*It takes longer to grade a paper because not only do I need to take more time to be succinct, but I also need to wrap every criticism with “pillows and marshmallows” so that students will receive my input without being offended. Doing all of that = huge chunk of time spent on my job = more hours doing my job than would be required in the traditional setting.

*Unlike a college course where students have the ability to read a few chapters and respond to it in a two-page paper, I am teaching the nitty-gritty so that my students can be prepared to do that very thing (have the ability to respond to a few chapters in a two page paper). The curriculum consists of achievable chunks of learning that build upon one another so that the end result is a well-written essay, a well-organized, well-thought out criticism/evaluation of literature, or a well-researched, well-organized research project. Each course has approximately 35 assignments to be completed, each assignment takes from five minutes to thirty minutes to grade (refer to “pillows and marshmallows”), and each course has approximately 35 students in it. I teach three classes. Do the math, and you’ll get an idea of how much my job consumes my life.

*The public education system here is very intolerant of people who are critical about “left-wing” anything. Forget about the First Amendment if the main stream doesn’t agree with your point of view.

Which brings me to my day at work yesterday…

Two other employees were having a heated debate about President Bush signing the new bill regarding bankruptcy. One for, one against. Best line of the conversation: female employee says, “I’ve had lots and lots of sex over the years, and not once have I been pregnant. Preventing pregnancy is not that difficult.”

I listened to the conversation intently with amusement while I carried on with my work. I was in and out of the room several times during the course of the conversation taking care of other aspects of my job (the face-to-face meetings with students on occasion, giving opportunities for speeches, arranging time and space for kids to take proficiency exams, etc.).

When I got back into the room, another teacher chimes regarding the “World Population Crisis.” If you’ve read any of my post this year, then you know how I feel about that (sorry, but I can’t remember where I posted the rant about the Population Crisis or I would link you to that post). I just couldn’t resist chiming in at that point. For about five minutes – no more than that – I went on a rant about how the United Nations itself has not denied the fact that developed nations will actually decrease in population over the next fifty years, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. In that five-minute diatribe, the principal enters the room to pull out one employee from the first conversation.

When she returns, I am back to work, and she asks to speak to me outside of the room. Apparently, the conversation in the room is creating a “hostile work environment” she says, and another employee is offended. Shut up and get back to work. “MJ,” I say in aghast, “I’ve only been chatting for five minutes!” Her reply is, “That may be, but you are here to do your job. Get back to work.”


Nice that educators cannot take time out for intelligent conversation. Nice that another employee cannot simply say, “Hey, take your conversation to another room or shut up.” Nice that there are tattle-tales who go straight to the principal. Nice that the conservative, dissenting opinion is not tolerated. All nice. [Being able to bitch about this and to have a dissenting opinion, reason two for the anonymity…]

Needless to say, I probably have a black mark next to my name in the employee handbook. Black = creating hostile work environment. I always have had a problem with bucking the system.


Mimi said...

And here I thought that blue in your name was code for something political.

Good thing you weren't talking about Jesus. hehe

bluesugarpoet said...

Yeah, Jesus just isn't a popular topic in the office!:)

The funny thing about "blue" is that it came into the mix because I was having a difficult time finding a name for my IM account (so I could talk to Chandy 24/7). My living room is indigo. But blue can now just as easily refer to my mood, how I curse in private, and the color of my husband’s eyes (which are really more teal colored).

LOL - yeah, if they found me out and I instead had used "red," I'd likely find myself at my proverbial hanging.

Isn't it ironic that "red" used to slanderously refer to Communism?

Mimi said...

that whole red color assignment was done by the liberal media. part of the vast left-wing conspiracy, no doubt.

indigo is a dark shade of paint for a room? my kids got to pick the pain tcolor for their bedrooms - one chose a bright/dark green and the other a shade of blue. My bedroom walls, however are dark-pinkish red color.

Ch@ndy said...

you should write a letter to principal and ask what it was that you said that created the "hostile work environment", explaining that you need to know so that you can avoid it in the future.

seriously, if that is all she said then she was not doing her job from an HR perspective. if she did not address the other people involved in the conversation with the same reprimand then she is singling (did i spell that right) you out, which is in fact "creating a hostile working environment" for you.

what bullshit.

Mimi said...

chandy makes really good points. I forget how upsetting it is to be admonished (it happens often to me.)

Ch@ndy said...

i didn't almost get an HR Management degree for nothin'!