May 19, 2012

Resting

Last night, my son and I went to see "Alice: A Wonder-full New Musical" at the Mesa Arts Center. The production was staged by our local Christian Youth Theater (CYT). One of the young ladies in my chamber group was stage manager, and since she is graduating from High School this year, we went to see her last production. We had a blast. It was such a delightful story, sort of a retelling of the Lewis Carroll story, "Through the Looking Glass." The lead actress did a fine job, as did the rest of the cast. It was such a nice evening out!

I am tired from last night and my long week, though, and I am trying to take it easy today. I got up at my normal time, thanks to the boys, but with my headache and sinus pressure (thanks -- AZ heat), I went back to bed and slept until 8! I guess I needed the rest because I do feel better.

Today is my mother's birthday. She called me early, around 6:30, but I let it go to the message. I did call back, spoke with my Dad, and just said to tell Mom I would call her later. I love my parents, and I have depended on them far too much over the past fifty years. I am trying to be established, on my own, and at times it is difficult to do that well. They need me too, so it is a give and take relationship. I am blessed, however, to have such wonderful parents, and I am glad that I am able to be the one who takes care of them.

Later this evening we are celebrating Mom's birthday by going to Black Angus Steakhouse. Mom has a free birthday dinner -- so we are going to redeem her dinner -- and enjoy some great food at a very nice restaurant.

Updates

I have done some thinking regarding my career progression at work. Nothing major as far as changes yet, just some fine tuning to the plan for my future.

First of all, I know that I want to teach. I was sitting at my desk yesterday, making my "dials" and thinking that I needed to find some other kind of work to do. I called over 100 people -- close to 500 for the week -- just to see if they were still interested in going back to school. I spoke with perhaps 20 who said "not interested," and I actually assisted about 10-12 who were "semi-interested, but not ready to make a decision." All in all, my week was slow, boring, and the tedium of staying focused proved difficult.

I did send my resume to a friend at work -- she is from another group -- just to see if there was any interest over there, any openings. I didn't hear back, but I did find out that some inquiries had been made regarding my availability. I guess that is a good thing. I'm not sure I want to work in her group, and I am worried that the job over there may be just like mine -- same type of work, just a different target group (businesses versus students).

I am also thinking that I really want that flexible schedule, and that I want my summers off. I worked very hard to get my Masters degree and now I want to use it. I know that the likelihood of being hired out of college is slim, but I still see myself as a teacher.

I don't want to give up that dream, not just yet, but also I don't see a way to make that dream come to pass. I need to get someone to give me a teaching opportunity. Where, when, how -- I don't know. I see it, though, just like I did with my getting a full-time job. I needed someone to give me a job, a new start. Macy's did that, they hired me, and I worked for them for one year. Then I moved to UOPX, and I have worked for them for about a year (come July). So if things follow in this same progression, I need to start small, some place where the requirements are less stringent, and then in a year, I will get a full-time teaching position.

Is this the way the Lord works? Perhaps He does work this way. I know the Word says this: To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability." Matt. 25:15 NIV

Within this parable there is the teaching of our Lord on how we are to use our gifts and abilities. The Lord gives us all abilities, some more, some less -- but He expects us to use our gifts wisely and to reproduce them so that when He returns there has been a "return on His investment." I believe that my gifts, both natural and spiritual, are to be used in my day to day life. They are for ministry, of course, but they are mine and they are part of my abilities so therefore I have access to them daily. As I work, I use my skill in administration, leadership, helping, etc. to benefit others. Yes, some of these people I work with are not believers, but nonetheless, I use my skills to help them.

I need to learn how to teach. I never completed a teacher training program, and I never worked in a regular classroom. I have volunteered -- years and years and years -- of volunteer experience. I have no practical classroom training, no demonstrated experience. And, in this day and age of competitive hiring practices -- no one will hire you without experience.

So what can I do about my lack of teaching experience? Well, I believe the following:
  • I can find a job where I can "learn on the go" -- be trained on the job
  • I can find a job where I can observe others teaching, and learn by example
  • I can go back to school and complete a teacher training program whereby I will get practice and also be assisted with placement in a job
  • I can continue to work where I am and let go of this dream
I am struggling with letting go of this dream. I want to do this, but I don't see a way to do it. I have looked at some teacher-in-residence programs, but they are far away from me (like an hour one way). I have not found any other jobs that will allow me to work and learn on the job. I did sign up for a teacher preparation program, but it was for High School, and those jobs are not as available -- plus the pay is very low. My preferred job is to teach at the Community College. The CC wants 3 years experience. I have all the other required skills -- knowledge, technology, online schooling like Blackboard. I just lack the skill to teach in the classroom.

If I choose to stay at UOPX, my path is difficult. It is not impossible, but I have to remain where I am for some time to come. This means another year in my current job, and then possibly moving into a new group. I can do that most certainly, but at what cost? My job is mundane, it is tedious, and I am under challenged. I need something that is more suited to my skills and abilities, something that challenges me, but doesn't overwhelm me (oh my! I used to tell people that when they were considering placing their child in the Ambleside Online curriculum). What a reminder of good wisdom? I advised parents who were new to the curriculum to place their children in a grade level that would offer them challenge, but not be so difficult (on parent and child) as to make the experience unbearable. Now, I am listening to my own advice, and I am saying to the Lord, "Lord, place me in a job that will be challenging, but not overwhelming to me."

As I consider my options for career progression, this is what I know today:
  1. I can remain where I am and continue to work in a job that is under-challenging and overwhelming (stress and tedious)
  2. I can wait for another opportunity to move into a different group 
  3. I can look elsewhere for a job that will fit the criteria stated above
What do I know is that remaining at UOPX for the interim is all I can do. I need the paycheck, I have bills to pay, and I have to keep a roof over my head. I know that staying there long term is an option. I am well-liked, I have opportunity, but the path is uncertain, and the timeline unknown. I would have to do my job for at least another year, and that requires incredible discipline on my part just to keep my attitude up (cheerfully doing difficult work). I can do it, certainly I can. Moreover, I also have access to taking classes for free, and I could enroll in a program for the next 6-9 months, and take another certificate program or single courses. I can still enroll at UOPX in the PhD in Higher Education Administration or I can wait and enroll online through Regent or go in person to ASU. There is no looming deadline of sorts -- I have to apply to Regent and ASU by the end of the year. I can enroll at UOPX from now to then and take classes up to May-June timeframe in 2013.

I also can take advantage of the career progression training, gaining good instruction in business and professional skills while I am waiting. I can structure my day so that I do all my tedious work in the am, saving my afternoons for training. The big issue is performance. I can make the dials, but if I don't enroll students, I will not be promoted. Now, I was enrolling between 6-10 each month. I have had a 0 May, and that is not looking good for me. I have a strong June, and some regs' in July and August -- but is that good enough? No. I need at least 5 enrollments each month and work towards 10 to get that promotion.

My friend at work gave me really good advice the other day. I was frustrated with my performance, lacking confidence in my abilities, and questioning what I was doing wrong. My friend is such a good listener. She is so good at her job as advisor, and I rely on her steady advice to help me figure out my way. It is really funny because I know she looks up to me, and she wants to be like me. Yet, I look at her and I see this incredibly wonderful person -- someone who is kind and caring, so very funny, and really good at her job. I know she doesn't enroll as many students as she would like, but she is so amazingly good. My boss doesn't see her the way I do, I know that, and he needs to start looking past the numbers, the way to say things, and focus on the person. This is what I do, I look at the person, and I see what is real and what is good about them (thank you, Jesus!) 

Anyway, my friend was counseling me, and she said that the reason I wasn't doing well was that I didn't believe the message anymore or I was trying so hard to do what the company wanted (conforming to a standard that didn't fit me). I thought about it, and while I am trying to do what they want, the bottom line is that I don't believe the message. You know, I cannot support something I don't believe in, and that is the crux of my problem. Somewhere between last Fall and January, my understanding on the job changed. I think it all started with SSP. I was resistant to it, it looked like sales to me, and frankly, I was fed up with "sales training." I had spent 20-some years hearing to sales training videos, CDs, and teaching that I wanted no more of it. I am not a Sales person, and I hate pressured sales training. 

SSP wasn't really that at all, but it was a watered-down version and dressed up as a tool to enhance customer service. It was really just Sales in a new outfit. I tried my best to use the technique, to do it, but I reacted so violently to it, that I sabotaged my efforts every time I opened my mouth. My old boss said "do your best, Carol," and I did. He was low-key, let me do my own thing so long as I said my name, my role and talked about the student's experience. It was sort of a way to get around SSP. My new boss is more company manager material and he expects 100% conformance. I do that, again my best, but the more I use it, it sours me, and I struggle over it. I know he has also said to "make it my own," but that really means use your own words -- just make them fit the outline.

On top of that, I do not like some of the internal policies the company has unveiled and the new push for recommendations in every call. It is so SALES and I just don't like it. I am pushing back, and my performance is suffering as a result. I cannot see myself performing in this job again. I can hold my own, do the minimum, but then I am not using God's gifts. I can use my gift of Administration to make sure my lead base is under 30% OOP (out of policy), but I cannot use my speaking gift (the gift of Prophecy) to sell something I do not support nor believe in. That is not what that speaking gift is for, and I will not use it to sell something I do not believe in. My gift of helping is used regularly as I do help students with school decisions, but again, I use it only when the student is willing to be helped. Therefore, my performance has centered on my Admin ability, and that is just not enough to satisfy my employer.

I see this as a no-win situation. I don't believe anymore, and I cannot sell something I don't believe has value. Now, I do believe in education, and in getting a better education -- I am all about self-learning, and the empowerment that comes from learning. I just am not into selling education.

The long and short of it is this, and I think I finally get it. I cannot do this job because the focus on the job has gone from helping students get into school to selling education. Yes, the job always was about selling education, but for a time (when I was hired) it was dressed up to be HELPING students. The company paid big money to dress that pig up in a fancy outfit. Now that the pressure is off, they have returned to selling education. I don't want to sell education, and I don't want students to take out massive debt to get their degrees. Yes, I have a big debt, but my debt is a result of a call by the Lord. I know that He will provide a way for me to pay that debt off. I don't know that about other students, and I don't like that they start a program, fail out, and then are stuck with debt.

I think this is what hurts me most. I have enrolled about 35 students, and lately some of mine have dropped out. This is probably true for all advisors, but it hurts me. I encouraged these students to enroll, and they said they could do it, but in truth, they didn't know how to do school. They simply didn't have what it takes to do school. Now they are stuck with debt, all because of my words of encouragement. I cannot do this, I cannot be about this -- it is a personal hurt, and I don't want to help students get into debt.

Well, that is the problem, is it not? I am using my gifts to hurt people, and I cannot do that anymore. My internal sense of justice is reacting to changes in policy and program efforts, and while I don't have an issue with the way the school conducts its business -- I cannot continue to help it do that, not with integrity, not with a full heart. I cannot, and I will not do it anymore.

So where do I go from here?



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