Friday, November 11, 2011

Time to think.....

That has two meanings, I suppose. 'It's time to think about the situation... time to find ways to make it better, different, or manageable'. On the other hand, it can mean 'Taking time to think... recusing from life's pressure for a while till the mind calms, and thought becomes possible'.

In either case, today is 'Time to think'.

I needed a few days away from school. Not so much from my students and teaching, but from the school itself. Frankly, as honestly as I can put this.... my attitude is shit.... and there's no reason to chance my professionalism slipping and inflicting that attitude on my students. I have almost ten years worth of sick days unused, and taking a few just now seems a good idea.

Besides... I have a virus of some kind (likely caught from my students) and there's no reason to spread that joy amongst students and faculty.

So... thinking aloud.... why has my attitude turned so poor? On that score no searching is required. Management... 'administration'... is making our value (to them) as instructors quite clear. We go to meetings internally, where we are told we are the best and doing a fantastic job... and the next day we read lies in the paper from our administration saying we are money hungry jerks demanding exorbitant raises.

When I speak with our buildings administrator, it's done across his brand new hand made $3,000 desk, while I come from my program where I am buying vehicles with my own money so my students have decent cars to learn on. I have to look that man in the eye, knowing he just took a $5,000 raise... and also knowing he's part of the crew working feverishly to arbitrarily freeze instructors salaries for years to come.

This week I was ordered to attend a conference assembled by PSU. Doing so involved leaving my house before 5am, and getting home after 6pm. It involved 300 miles of driving, and 6 hours on the road. The extra time over and above a regular work day is not compensated. I was not asked to attend... I was ordered to. The day after I was ordered to attend this conference, I asked permission to leave school 30 minutes early (after students had left for the day), noting I would come in 30 minutes early to make up the time. My request was denied.

I have worked in my program, in my school, for ten years now. Over most of those years, from all of our campuses, we lost maybe three or four people a year. Mostly due to retirement or medical causes. There was a reason for the low numbers.... we were the best school of our kind in the state, and worked as a solid team towards a unified goal.... giving our students everything we could to make them successful at life.

In the last two years we have lost more then forty people.

None I am aware of left for retirement, although a few have physically fallen apart from pressure suddenly heaped on their shoulders. Most went to other schools and other counties, or back to industry where they earn more for fewer hours. I am beginning to understand the exodus.... the reasons those people had for leaving their careers. In two years we have lost enough instructors to populate an entire campus, and now I know why.

These things are... factors... in the origination of my attitude change. Just facets of an overall situation which has rapidly changed over the last few years.

Yes, a few days off are in order. Time to think. Time to gather perspective.

In the last ten years, I know I have changed the lives of hundreds of young people for the better. Not guess... but know.... they come back and tell me what it meant to them. For ten years, I have turned down other job offers flat and been happy in the knowledge I would likely retire some day right from that classroom. Now.... that ideal has gone from 'likely' to 'very unlikely indeed'.

It's time to think.

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