Thank God This Year's Over.
It has been rough. Rough in so many ways. Right down to the last official school day which was Wednesday.
At the beginning of the year I thought that I could look at myself as the glue that held things together being the one in the office, besides the principal, that was familiar with the workings of our building. We had merged two schools which meant merging two staffs and two areas of our community. Now, the children had been together before in the Pre-K-2 school but the staff was at odds being that we were considered "sister schools" while theirs was still open having the same grade levels (3-5) and there was always an underlying current of, shall we call it "competition".
With the closing of their school came a realignment of the grades. The lower school became Pre-K to 3rd and we housed all the 4th and 5th graders. One would think that with only two grade levels that things would go smoothly. Not so much.
And to top it off, for me at least, there was a change in our office staff and they moved the secretary from the Pre-K-2 school to our office and our secretary to the administrative offices. No one was really happy about that move.
I know that all sounds confusing and if you followed it, good for you. It was much more of a challenge than we all expected I think.
After a few weeks, or maybe it was only days, I felt that the glue was really being strained and thought that being a rubberband, which has more flexibility, would be a better thought. So I stretched myself and tried to accommodate to the ever increasing demands of the job. But it seemed that the rubberband had to become bigger and bigger and bigger to make those accommodations. All the while it was growing though, it was also reaching it's point of snapping.
Even with detailed explanations and a deep summoning of patience on a daily basis there were just those that did not grasp the fact that they were being absorbed into another culture and that pointing out that they had never done something or done it "that way" before was getting old.
I told myself mid-year that it was time to lower my expectations. It wasn't going to take a few months, it would take a full year of going through all the processes and events that usually transpire during the school year.
But I wondered nonetheless, at why in the classroom, the teachers expected their students to acclimate to their way of doing things within a short amount of time, yet they were digging their heels in as to how our daily routine transpired.
Should I need to remind you in November, January and March that attendance has to be done by 9:00? Should I have to remind you in December, February and April that it would be nice to let me know if a parent has let you know that a student is on vacation so I don't try calling them at home, or interrupting your class? Should I have to send e-mails reminding you that if you use the last of something in the supply room you need to let me know so I can reorder before the next person "really needs" something? And I know it all sounds like little stuff, but it builds and builds and builds and just like the rubberband you snap or you snap at someone and that's never a good thing.
So right about the time of Spring Break, during which I used some of my vacation days, I came to the conclusion that not only did I need to lower my expectations, but I needed to lower my standards too.
I was seeing, all around me, people who were basically not putting the effort into making things go smoothly - and getting away with it - and I thought I should do the same. But it's hard to lower your standards. Even if your boss tells you that you "shouldn't expect people to do their job as good as you do yours"! Is that what it's come to?
So, did I leave every day at 3:30 like I'm supposed to? No. There were days when I stayed later or came in earlier to get something done that just wasn't going to happen during regular working hours with all the interruptions.
Did I turn away the students and the teachers who needed my assistance with something when I was right in the middle of my own work? No.
Did I get frustrated and voice my opinion sometimes maybe a bit too conspicuously - you bet your ass I did. And what did that accomplish? Nothing. It only made me realize that the rubberband stretches only so far and that if I was going to hold anything together it would be with humble twine and the ends would definitely be frazzled.
I think that maybe this summer I will take that rubberband and make it into a sling shot and when someone tells me in September, as I know they will, that "that's not the way we used to do it", I will pick up the sling shot and one of the marbles that I will have surely lost from hearing that statement again, and bean them right between the eyes.
Just kidding. But maybe I'll hand them a rubberband and tell them that it's time that they learned to be more flexible. I've got the whole summer without staff around to contemplate that.