|Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005 || Being reminded that change is a threat|
I checked my favorites list today, and I am shocked to see that I haven't lost any readers over the past month despite my lack of entries.
You all rock.
Since I am not a goldie, I can't say whether or not you would really be reading any entries, if I had them, but at least you haven't given me the boot. Yet.
Where to begin...
The new job has revealed to me that I still have a lot of work to do on my psyche. Long hours and lack of sleep will do that to you, I guess. Not to mention the culture up this way.
Hmmmm....how to describe it. Well, you don't dare say this is New England. They will immediately tell you it certainly is not thank-you-very-much in their clipped style of speech. And silly me thought that northern DE couldn't possibly be much different than where I grew up in MD, a mere 72 miles from here.
Oh, but I was so, so wrong.
And it's not just the Delawarians (nor those few "Jerseys" thrown in for good measure since we're quite close to that state). I'd quite forgotten what it was like to try to work with and/or relate in a culture where there is still this belief - subtle, yet still very much in operation - that men are an echelon above women.
So, plop a strong-willed, opinionated, can't-hide-her-true-feelings-to-save-her-life woman into a group of sharp-tongued, insecure, you-should-know-your-place-as-a-woman folk and "Houston, we have a problem".
I am realizing that some of this stems from me. Last year, I felt nurtured and encouraged at the school in which I taught. I was not at all looked down upon for my lack of education; it actually came as a huge surprise to those I worked with. I was affirmed constantly. I could ask questions, and I was given intelligent answers.
The folks here are very self-sufficient, and for whatever reason, haven't caught on to the fact that "hey, the new girl just might have a huge learning curve". The computer lab - which, if I had seen before accepting the job, I would have succinctly said, no way - in their eyes, works, because "hey, you can turn them all on, can't you?" So, my lament over it's condition has fallen upon mostly deaf ears.
Thank God Rob is in charge of quality control and he, the Business Manager, and the Senior Pastor agree with our assessment of the lab. We are acquiring bids now and it will all be brand spankin' new in a month or two.
I've made a lot of mistakes. The first was not getting the full scoop on what my job would entail. I was initially told "Computers for K-8th grade" and Middle School Grammar. When I got my schedule, it had High School Computer and three K-4 classes as well.
I should have questioned that. But, I didn't.
And if the lab was in working order, it would probably be much more manageable. But, right now, it sucks.
Mistake #2. I went to the ladies retreat last weekend and was in a room with the school administrator's wife and the Dean of Students' wife. The Dean of Students was the computer teacher last year. In a moment of vulnerability, I attempted to share my heart with these women, my frustration and total exhaustion over the lab and lack of curriculum (I was give the HS class with no curriculum, so I've been developing it as I go).
Needless to say, they didn't take it so well. At one point, the admin's wife said, "well, you don't even have your teaching degree, do you?"
That is where the tears came to my eyes, and I let the conversation die.
Well, guess what? They went home and complained to their husbands about me, and their husbands complained to the senior pastor.
I've been here 3 weeks and I've already ticked four people off, two of which I work with, and one who is my boss.
When I spoke to the Senior Pastor about it, he understood that I was only trying to share my heart with some folks I thought I could trust, but their worldview is that "men above women" hierarchy, not to mention that they perceived my frustration as direct assaults on their husbands, so it went over like a lead balloon.
Mistake #3. We are now into this past week. I have been trying to survive on an average of 5 hours of sleep per night. My house is still 3/4ths in boxes. Rob is working 70-80 hours a week. The computer lab continues to deteriorate. I am beginning to question the integrity of this "better" education my kids are receiving in this private school (which is a whole other story). I am feeling trapped and I have just learned that I've insulted two women at the retreat.
I have not been given any kind of flow chart as to the administrative hierarchy of the school. I am being told various things by various teachers. Rob finally tells me that unless I hear it from the administrator, to ignore any other directives.
But, remember, I've insulted his wife. I am learning that he is a micromanager to the Nth degree.
The issue of the week is field trips. There's been some confusion as to whether I will attend the upper school field trips because I have elementary classes every day of the week. I've emailed the Admin and he tells me that I am excluded from going because of my elementary responsibilities.
I am relieved and happy, because now I don't have to add the planning of a field trip to my already full plate, not to mention that I will have mega free time for planning and such on field trip days.
I relay this info to the person I think is "in charge" of field trips because she was the one who gave out the planning assignments. She informs me that the admin has changed his mind and I can go if they are on one of the two days in which I only have one elementary class.
So, I email the admin again, and ask for clarification. I also ask that if I do need to go, can I still be excused from planning.
I get one of those not really a yes or no answers. I am frustrated to say the least. I email him again and basically say, "You didn't answer either of my questions. Please give me an answer so I know what to do."
In the meantime, another teacher comes to me, and I tell her that I've been told I can attend the ones on Tuesdays or Thursdays, but I can't plan the trip they asked me to. She says, "You can't just make a phone call?" in that clipped, northern way, that I now realize sounds just like my mother telling me what to do. I reply, "No, I can't. It's just too much right now." She says something else, and I say, "Well, I am still awaiting word from the Admin as to my role in these trips." She says, "Fine" and leaves.
At this point, there is a key bit of info that the administration of this school has failed to tell me. Not only is this teacher the one actually in charge of field trips, she is also the "floor leader" and in some areas, my "boss".
So, you can guess how my "no, I'm not going to do that" went over.
At this point, I am feeling like no one in this school gives a rip that I am overwhelmed and exhausted. Not a nurturing personality in the bunch, and I am wondering why I am putting myself through this grief when I am also questioning the quality of education my middle schoolers are getting (the elementary end of the school seems to be fine).
I wait a day and a half for a response from the admin to no avail, so I print off the email and write a note on it and put it in his box. I let him know that if I don't hear back from you on this, I will assume that I don't have to plan the trip (I am learning that he doesn't like to give a definitive yes or no for many things, which is supremely frustrating for me).
Later in the day I am walking through the office area. There are parents in the waiting area, and a few other staff members. And the admin's wife (remember, I ticked her off a few days ago). And the admin starts scolding me over his shoulder as he is walking about the area: "The reason I didn't get back to you is this little thing called being busy. I can't always respond the same day..." blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada. I am taken aback. I try to say that I was not trying to be pushy, but he isn't even stopping to look at me and talk to me. So, I just kind of say, "okay" and keep walking.
So, now I've ticked the admin off. Great.
The next day, we have an upper school meeting. I get there a bit late. I have come to the conclusion that while billed as a time to meet for prayer and discuss relevant items, it is nothing more than a gripe session. I could be filtering this through my already-frustrated-with-these-folks lenses. And there is so much I could be doing during this 15 minutes of time. So, to again walk in and hear them - to what my ears seems to be - griping, I am on edge.
I am trying to just sit there and keep my mouth shut...
But at one point, I do try to express my opinion, and I am immediately shot down. I state that I am simply stating what I have witnessed through one student. I am really wondering why they are all discussing this anyway (it has to do with scheduling), because in my mind, this is an admin situation.
Keep in mind that I still have no clue that one of these teachers is the floor leader and has some measure of authority.
In her clipped tone, the one that reeks of my mother scolding me, she begins to admonish me as to why this is important for us to discuss. At this point, I am just overwhelmingly frustrated. She's already explained why, to which I had said, "I am just telling you what my experience is through one student." For whatever reason, she doesn't percieve that I understand. So, I say, "You don't have to explain. I already know why."
To which she responds, "No, you will listen."
I cracked. I said, "No, I won't. And besides, I need to get to class." And I walk out.
I hear the murmurs as I leave, but I don't care. I am so over these people at this point it is not even funny. And my perception is, "Why is she talking to me like this when she is my colleague. She is not my boss. I am not going to sit there and be scolded in front of my peers."
I talk to Rob at length about what I should do. At first he tells me I should go to her to clear the air. Then the more we talk about it, we decide that unless she brings it up, or if there is any perceived tension between us, I should just let it go.
What I don't know at this point is that the other teachers who were present complain to her because she is the floor leader. To them, I have been rude and insubordinate. In my mind she is simply my colleague who, frankly, had no right to talk to me in that tone reminiscint of my mother's "what did you do this time?" voice.
I finally get an answer from the admin about the field trips not too long after this little event. I also recieve an "I will be setting up a meeting between you, her, and myself soon".
Now, there is no mention of any other teachers. So, I conjecture that this is something between just her and I, so why aren't they following the personnel manual that states that she is to come to me privately first?
Rob decides that he wants to be there with me. Our perception is that she is ticked, the admin is ticked, and now the two want to talk to me. What would you think? So, he wants to be there for moral support. And he lets the admin know.
The next note I get is that the meeting is on Friday morning and her husband will be there as well.
So, we show up, and they won't let Rob speak at all. Her husband, a deacon, basically says, "We are here to observe, so I think you just need to do that," to Rob when he does try to speak on my behalf (at this point I am frustrated and in tears). But that isn't why I wanted him there in the first place. And, no surprise, the admin, who is supposed to be the arbitrator, doesn't define the "rules" or why the husbands are there. And he even brings up how this could become a ministerial staff issue because Rob is his peer. What?!
At one point, through tears, I ask if Rob can speak on my behalf, and they all say "NO!"
It is obvious rather quickly that we aren't getting anywhere.
I leave the meeting in tears and Rob stays behind to talk to them a bit more.
He comes up to my room where I am trying to have a Kindergarten computer class, and I am just a mess. I can't stop crying, the computers are acting up even more than usual, and my IT-guy husband is quickly just as frustrated by the lab as I am.
He tries to tell me how they all do care, and I say, "If they did, don't you think they'd perceive that I am in no condition to teach today?!" And my wonderful hubby says, I will be back. Within 5 minutes, he is back telling me to get my stuff ready for a sub.
I am ready to write my resignation letter, but he is telling me to wait. A nice lunch and a nap later, and I am feeling a bit better, but still not sure what I need to do.
In a nutshell, I believe that the problem is lack of communication and the administrator's micromanagement. He called the meeting because he, and the floor leader, percieved it as an upper school issue. That's fine. But my question is, why didn't he talk to me in private first? Why was I not given the opportunity to present my side without the floor leader present to refute all that I said (which she, of course, did in the meeting). Or shouldn't he have told the floor leader that she needed to speak to me first on behalf of the other teachers?
If I'd known that she was the floor leader, a lot of what has happened likely would not have happened. This place is just replete with this type of poor communication and lack of direction. I even mentioned that I still don't have a teacher's manual, to which the admin replied that there hasn't been a new one since 2002-03 and he hasn't had the time to get a new one finished.
That is just unacceptable in my mind.
He even had the audacity to say that he "gave" me the time off during orientation. Um, no, you knew I couldn't be there because we still lived in Virginia. And when I asked if that would be a problem, I was assured it would not be.
Anyway... Rob finds out that the floor leader had gone to the admin to ask if I am overwhelmed, but he has basically said and done nothing. I have told him that I am, and he has blown it off.
Now all of a sudden they are offering me three days off without penalty to regroup. And the admin asked Rob if I needed to have some of the classes taken off my schedule, but I am not sure how that will affect my full time status, which, without such I lose a lot of benefits.
At this point, I am still not sure what I need to do. Outside of all of this, Rob and I both have concerns about the quality of education K@ytlin and N@than are recieving.
I believe it is a situation where they were the best, but they have forgotten to make sure they are still the best, and now they aren't anymore, but they still think they are.
How's that for a run-together sentence?
Rob was called here to help them take their ministries to the next level. This school is their biggest outreach ministry. The majority of students do not attend the church. My being "on the inside" is bringing to light a lot of the junk. And I know that is a good thing. I could be a catalyst for change, change that has been needed for a long time.
I just wish it didn't hurt so much.
Just a reminder - Friday, Aug. 10, 2007
Rockin' Girl Blogger - Wednesday, Jul. 18, 2007
A good end - Friday, Jun. 01, 2007
Moving on? Yes and no. - Monday, May. 07, 2007