Monday, March 12, 2018

So, I don't know

I'm tired this afternoon and I hope this doesn't come off as too sad because I don't intend it to be.

1: depending on what happens with my state's finances and a truly stupid piece of legislation that was apparently written by a Washington think-tank and may be pushed through our legislature, I may wind up having to decide "Do I learn to tolerate teaching online or look for a new job?"

I dunno. At this point I'm leaning towards saying "Okay, I'll give teaching online a try" if it comes down to it but I suspect I will dislike it and it will be a disheartening way to finish out my career. But inertia is strong with me and teaching is what I know. (Alternative options are not that appealing: drive an hour's round-trip each day or move if the nearest community college 'cross the river will take me, or if there is a N. Texas private school that would take me.)

There was also some talk in the faculty meeting of how these online classes are being run: big classes, and once they exceed a certain size, the faculty member in charge gets what is euphemized as a "coach" but which is really a grader/question-answerer: in other words, the person who does the unappealing scut work for less pay than the faculty member makes.

But here's the twist: this "Partnership" with which we have partnered needs them, and one of my colleagues suggested that if one needed summer funds, one might apply.

And I don't know. Part of me goes "As a matter of principle, this goes against a lot of what I stand for" but the pragmatic part of me is saying "this might be the side hustle you're looking for, also you would either get your foot in the door (in case this is your career future) or do it long enough to decide you don't want to, and have to think about something else."

I dunno. I would rather do textbook-editing work this summer but that seems not to be forthcoming.

The other career option, if teaching totally goes south, based on a news story I heard: look into seeing what it would take, education wise, to re-tool myself into an RN. Though I suspect the level of close human contact, especially close contact with cranky/angry/sad humans, and the grossness of body fluids, and the sadness of patients you can't help, would make it a bad career fit for me. 

2: My chair reported she had had a complaint from "on high" that our last-semester's evaluations "had an unexpectedly large amount of erasures" which I take to mean "we think you tampered with them to make your faculty look better" which is terrible and insulting:

a. The faculty never see these before they're tabulated. We don't touch them. We NEVER touch the originals. Our secretary gives them, and I doubt she has any favorites she would try to stack the deck in favor of.

b. Yes, we used a TA for some of them because of scheduling conflicts and now we're apparently not allowed to do that, so we need to start scheduling these like now.

My chair did call the higher-up in question to ask for clarification and explain, and he very quickly was like "Nononononono, we didn't mean YOUR department" which suggests that they suspect some OTHER department but instead of going straight to them, as is CLASSIC administrative style here, they make insinuations that everyone is doing it wrong, make people feel guilty, make people be off-balance. And yes, I understand "building a case" but I also remember the "if you don't follow the sick-day instructions [some of which might well have required sick me to come in to campus to take care of things; the assumption seemed to be you had a spouse who could take care of it] to the letter, you will be regarded as insubordinate" and "insubordinate" is one of those magic words that means they can take away tenure. (And I said, bitterly, to a colleague, "Then I'll just teach sick, even if I have to stop mid-class to throw up" and he said, "I think they're trying to build a case against someone who is actually abusing sick-day policy" but the literal-minded part of me just goes WHYYYY forever)

And yes, I can see how having higher-stakes post-tenure review COULD lead to faculty wanting to game the evaluations system (I have heard of such things as bringing in snacks on the day you have evaluations planned. That seems far too bald-faced to me, and I would feel like I'd have given up integrity if I did it....though I don't know....if it came down to "you might be pushed out of your job if you don't game the system...." and the choice is giving up my shot at a pension and having to find another job at 50 years of age (or older) depending on when it happened....I don't know. I don't know when you through principal out the window in the name of self-preservation.)

But yeah. Maybe they just need to go to online evaluations like some universities have instead of the paper ones, if they're worried about people tampering.

I don't like feeling though - both elements from 1 and 2 - that I might some day have to sit down and have a VERY hard think about which of my principles I'd be willing to sacrifice in the name of keeping a job....This is not the future I envisioned in 1999, or even in 2010....and definitely not the one I want.

I wish things would change back to how they used to be but I'm doubtful that will happen.

3. And there's talk about how "active shooter drills" are traumatizing schoolkids and I can see that. As a kid, I was freaked out enough by tornado drills. I think what it was - I don't know if this was a general little-kid thing, or if it was a specific-to-me, very anxious and very literal-minded little kid thing, but I really did believe the things that we "trained for" were guaranteed to happen, I did not understand how "rare" "rare events" really were, and doing the "huddle quietly in a corner while teacher tries to hold the door shut" thing would have caused me to beg my parents to homeschool me. (If I had known homeschooling existed. I think I vaguely knew that kids in some remote areas did: I used to get "National Geographic World" as a kid and I think they had a story once on the Australian outback, and kids on ranches there that went to "school" by using a big radio set-up, kind of like a ham radio)

And here's the one I shy away a bit at, lest people think it too sad or final, but it's something I've been thinking about in the wake of Steve's death:

4. If I were to die suddenly, I want a VERY simple funeral. I don't want anything big or elaborate, I don't need them to serve lunch (at most, my brother and his family and maybe a few cousins might travel for it - my parents are unable to really travel far any more, and I would not expect them to). I don't want people to go to excessive trouble. I don't want it to be "outrageous" in any way; I am not an outrageous person; I would want it rather quiet and conventional.

And I would want a very plain, very traditional service. Read the 23rd Psalm and maybe some other passage of Scripture that seems fitting (I'm sure others could choose better for me than I could). Sing "For the Beauty of the Earth" and "How Great Thou Art" because those both mention the natural world in some way and the forests and the meadows and all that were important to me. Have a short eulogy. I don't want lots of people to get up and tearfully have to talk about me. I would want it to be short and plain and let people go back home. I don't want anyone to do anything that they don't want to do.

And as for my stuff? I want my books donated to the university library (if it still exists). They can use the ones they can use, they can swap or sell the ones they can't use, or donate them to the local public library (again, to use or sell as they see fit). My yarn and fabric - surely there is some group, either that works with at-risk kids or that is a self-help group for women that could use the supplies in some way.

My personal stuff, the various toys and things? If friends or family want some as mementos, great. Otherwise, I don't know - sell them on Etsy or donate them to some kind of program for kids in foster care or other sad situations where having a toy might make things better.

My piano - if a family member wants it, that's where it's to go first. Failing that, find a music school that wants it and will use it. It's a good piano, it's still in good shape.

I guess: sell my house and car, put the money with the rest of what I had, and distribute it with my bank accounts and retirement accounts.

What money I have, I want divided between my brother's family for them to use towards my niece's education (maybe about half of it go there, though they're also my life-insurance beneficiaries), and the rest between my church (if the congregation still exists, if not, maybe Week of Compassion), the Nature Conservancy, and the biology program here (for student scholarships, put it toward some existing fund)

Truth is: I plan on being here a long time. I want to be that 80-year-old woman in Keds and a denim dress who goes out and picks up trash and serves on the Library Board and bakes cookies for coffee hour, that sort of thing. Part of the reason I eat so dang many vegetables and force myself to get in a workout even when I don't feel like it is because I want to be here 35 years from now and be well enough to make either trouble or joy for people. (I would hope it would be the second; I don't think I could be a Ruth Zardo type). And as I've joked before, I want to die somewhere around 96 (though now I'd revise that upward, given that more and more people seem to be making it past 100) after falling off my roof where I went to retrieve a Frisbee.

(Here's hoping my talking about this cements my fate of staying here for a long long time)

And yeah, I also know I need to print this out and go to an attorney and get it all officially finalized. But it's hard to make yourself do that, and I really wonder how much detail they expect, because if it comes down to, "And I want my G1 My Little Pony Heartthrob to go to my niece..." or something, I just can't, and would just say "Sell it all and put the money in my estate" (Honestly, that's part of what's prevented me from going and doing a very formal will, the idea that I'm going to have to itemize everything. Of course, the bigger thing is that the idea of my no longer being around to read my books or play my piano is deeply unappealing, but I know this is one of those things that adults do, and I guess I have to do it some time)

(Now I feel like I have to do a super happy palate-cleaning type post, but I need to do Duolingo first...)

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