Last Friday I was dismissed rather rudely from a job that did not really suit me. I was given no notice and treated like a criminal. I did nothing wrong. It just didn’t work out. I was being given opposite signals. I was told I would be working as a part of the summer camp team. I was there at a meeting 3 weeks ago being given a position for the summer. I had many conversations with my supervisor about the coming year. She never gave me any indication that I would not be a part of those plans. I attended a potluck and talked to parents about our plans for next year with my supervisor standing right there, smiling. She is always talking about authentic relationships and being up front. I guess she thinks she is being professional not a hypocrite. But in my experience the higher you go on the professional ladder the deeper you sink into the shady world of self-justification. I would find it difficult to follow a policy that made it so I could not act in a humane way toward the people I work with. I have always avoided those jobs and hope to continue to do so.
My supervisor called me on Thursday evening after our potluck as I was driving home and told me I had a meeting with Human Resources in the morning. I was driving and I did not catch most of what she said. I think now she was probably telling me to come straight to the meeting and not come for the early part of my shift. She literally had not spoken to me of my performance since our meeting in March in which we outlined what needed to happen in order for me to pass my probation. I thought I had made the adjustments. Obviously she was not going to tell me I hadn’t.
When I walked into the meeting, I could tell by the sorry look on her face that it was not going to go well for me. I confronted her about the numerous times she had to make me aware of my situation and the unethical nature of her behavior. She did some verbal shrugging and finally said, “Its the policy of the college.” “Yeah, well that doesn’t make it ethical.” I reminded her of how hurt and frustrated she had been when my assistant quit without notice. I guess its hard to get loyal employees. I wonder why? She was obviously upset and uncomfortable with the process. I hope it never gets easy for her. This kind of thing should never be easy for people.
I had go back to my classroom and pack all of my stuff with a friendly security guy there to “assist” me, and generally making everyone uneasy with his friendly professional manner. It was surreal, like the scene from “Scrooged“. I think maybe they got there policy from watching that. In the end the scene that unfolded will hurt employee loyalty and trust that she was always trying to foster with words. As an educator I know how much more people are influenced by experience. She complained many times that no one would come to her with issues or concerns. I thought I could trust her. They knew better. Her handling of this process confirmed that she is more committed to her job than any relationship with her staff. The words were just her mouth moving and sounds coming out.
This was a choice that my supervisor made. We could have had a professional exit interview, and a friendly but depressing conversation about some of the positive things that happened, because there were many of these. She decided that it was better to follow policies instead of maintaining her integrity. She may feel that she is bound to follow company policy. I am glad I do not have to make those decisions. I know I would have to do things differently.
I did nothing wrong. I am just not very good at day care. I am a teacher. As far as day cares go, I would not have minded working another year or two there. It was not too restrictive. They have a good philosophy on paper, but in the end it is just a place to keep kids safe, learning and joy are secondary missions. I don’t know what I will do next, but I know it won’t be a job in professional day care. I am done with bubble wrapping children and making them lay down for an hour in the afternoon. I hope I am done working with people who put their job over their personal ethics, but that is optimistic. Life is bitch and some people are more interested in security than doing what is right, because the bitch might bite. I have felt those teeth and can’t fault anyone too much for fearing them.
I learned somethings about myself and people in general that I am still processing. For the most part I enjoyed working with a team of very dedicated, caring people. I have nothing but the highest regard for my fellow teachers. They were always very supportive. I hope to maintain some friendships, but that is always difficult. I will miss the deep and interesting conversation in the staff room and the ideas, humor, and stories that we shared. The difficulties of this last year have been many, but mostly I am ready to take what I have learned, the experience I have gained, and the wonderful insights I gathered from the people I worked with and move forward. There were also the children and families that filled my days with delights and challenges. This is why I am a teacher. I am addicted to moments of authentic experience that enlighten everyone involved. Bad behavior by administrators and overbearing regulations could not stop many such moments in my classroom, and I feel mostly positive about what I accomplished as a teacher this year. I can see where my focus as educator and the institutional setting were at odds. I am not sad about losing the job. The job was often tedious and restricting with too many artificial transitions, and involved a long commute. It is the relationships and people I will miss, as well as the pay and benefits. I think if I could have had a professional conversation with my supervisor about all of this I would be feeling much better about it all, but she chose to follow policies that are put into place by cautious and cowardly people who want to always avoid unpleasant situations. They like neat clean processes drained of all that pesky human stuff. I hope I never get to that point.
I am not sure what my next step will be though I am sure it won’t be professional day care. I am ready to go out and find a path, or make one. As I go along I will come across beasties that bight, but that is life. There will be beasties, but there will also be wonders and inspiration enough. So I say, “Bring it on, Bitch! Let’s see what you got.”