Wednesday, December 14, 2016
The following is a true story.
A teacher I know, let's call her "Sally," teaches at a public high school where water bottles and food are forbidden among the students. This policy exists despite research suggesting that food and water are, when considered in the balance of life, pretty good things and that the lack of food and water can be detrimental to learning. We also know that ready access to food and water can aid learning.
Sally teaches nearly two hundred students each day in six sections of five different courses. Not surprisingly she needs a little something to make it to lunch, yet rather than eat or drink in front of her students, since they are forbidden to do so, she sneaks into her neighbor's classroom in one of the six-minute passing periods and during that luxurious break, which she technically should not have since it is expected that she will be standing in the hall between each and every class, she wolfs down a small box of raisins and gulps a quick drink from her water bottle.
Recently her neighbor was engaged with a student in a private conference during that six-minute period, and rather than eat or drink in front of her students, Sally quietly returned her box of raisins and water bottle to their hiding place under her desk.
Now, let's be honest. Sally did not die from being unable to eat a one-ounce box of raisins that day, but her experience did make me think of this recent Forbes article on the marks of a bad place to work. The author observes with incredulity that some companies still specify the number of hours that salaried employees must work and goes on to say, "Smart companies know that what’s important is that the work gets done – not how many hours people work. If you see this kind of language in an employee handbook, do not take the job — because you will hate it if you do!"
It is no surprise that teachers find their eating and drinking habits regulated at school when their time is dictated as well. I know that at Sally's school teachers must work certain hours during finals week and must be in the building all day on the last teacher day of each semester. It does not matter that their work could be done elsewhere. What matters is that their hours are accounted for in the actual school building. They could be watching YouTube videos if their work is done, but they cannot leave the building.
We won't even start to discuss evaluation, about which the Forbes article also has something to say. "Performance Management is the name of a popular HR hoax and scam that turns any job into a series of tasks and goals that you’ll be held accountable for on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. No job worth doing breaks down into tiny, measurable parts. Good jobs are whole. You know what your mission is and you work toward your mission every day, checking in with your manager as appropriate. Run away from any company that surrounds you with yardsticks and measurements. Working in a place like that would only raise your blood pressure and destroying your mojo."
I wonder what happened to Sally's mojo when she couldn't eat her raisins.