Monday, September 13, 2010

Maybe it's the baby: Work Positivity

It's no secret that I've aired some work frustrations here before. It's not the smartest decision in the world though I do my best to keep names and most information confidential. I've never been able to fully clear my head unless I write out my thoughts, though. I have a billion filled and half-filled journals from my childhood and teen years that are stuffed with angry rants and raves and "What should I do's" because I could never fully let go of an issue until I wrote it all out. Writing about work to clear my head isn't the smartest thing in the world, but I do try to keep things anonymous and I've tweaked details here and there to protect the anonymity of the people I work with. (Though I have to say there are days when I've been so angry I've thought about just laying it all out there!)

Pretty much all of my work posts have been pretty negative, but a few positive things have come my way lately, so why not share them? I've been working hard so I'm pleased to see some good things coming out of the work I've been doing. And to add to that, I want to someday bind or "publish" some of these entries (maybe all of them. I don't know yet.) for my kids so they can see that I wasn't always their lame, boring, strict mom (though they'll probably still think that no matter what because karma is a bitch), and I don't want them to think that I was always hating my job and moaning and groaning about everything.

On Thursday and Friday I got a few compliments from my boss that really helped elevate my mood. I've started to get into a bit of a funk because as I write the manual for how to do my job while I'm gone, I've started to feel like it's only a matter of time before my position is completely eliminated because I feel like I do so little. Getting some positive feedback has really helped keep me focused and of the mindset that I'm pretty darn valuable sometimes!

Nearly 2 weeks ago I wrote a press release about the start of our school year. Any other year I probably wouldn't have wasted my time, but my school is 100 years old this year so everything we're doing celebrates that fact. I decided that the 100th first day of school was newsworthy so I whipped up a quick press release and sent it to some local papers. I have also been asked to send them to my coworkers so they can send email blasts to school parents and show off our students. I did that, and then I forgot about it because I had some other things to do. Well, the press release found its way back to my boss and she raved about it! She said, "kudos" to me in an email (I love that word because it reminds me of my favorite granola bars) and then again the next day at a staff meeting. She really loved the way I wrote it and loved that I included some of the enrollment measures we took to get our student body up from roughly 230 to over 280. (ACK! That's a lot of kids!) I'm always awkward about accepting compliments and congratulations, but I was proud of myself for turning out something that she loved so much she felt the need to mention. Doesn't happen always, no matter where you work.

On Friday we had a pep rally. The older girls were put in charge of creating some posters for the pep rally and decorating the gym. I don't exactly know all the details because I wasn't there for that conversation, but I was there for another conversation and from what I can put together I guess one of my coworkers had some concerns about letting students do the artwork for the pep rally. I guess she thought it might not be done at all, or done nicely if students were put in charge....??? (I say this based just on what I was able to glean from the short conversation we had in the school office. It's entirely possible and probable that I am wrong in my assumptions.)

I walked into the office and the students were showing my boss the posters they had made on their computers. My boss was really blown away by the work they did and seemed really impressed with their handiwork. She said something along the lines of, "Why do we need to do it when we have kids who can do it like this and make it this lovely?!" (Taking huge liberties with paraphrasing here because I can't remember all the way back to Friday afternoon.) Then---this is my favorite part--one of the girls turned around and said, "Ms. G. taught us how to do this!"

Me = big smile!

Now. (Because I always feel the need to downplay my accomplishments because I never know what to do with attention.) What I "taught" them to do was actually taught to them a few years ago when they were in the middle grades. And the student who said, 'Ms. G. taught us blah blah blah!' is a good kid, but she's really good at "working the room" and brown-nosing. And what I taught them to do? It's not really that hard. I almost felt guilty taking credit for something they can probably do in their sleep.

But. But. BUT.

Kids of that age are almost exclusively self-centered. They always think of themselves first. This student didn't have to mention that she learned those skills from me--she could have lived it up in that spotlight and they all could have taken all the credit for what they did. One of them at least took a moment to say, "Thanks, but thank this lady too!" That comment says a lot about her personality but also a lot about the parenting she's received. Score one for mom and dad! Would she have said it if I wasn't in the room? Probably not--kids need visuals to cue them on most things. But hey, I got to share a little limelight with them, even if it's an eensy-weensy piece.

Today, I walked down to the office to share some information with my boss and she was wrapping up a phone conversation with someone who saw another press release I'd written in the paper, this one about our new cyberbullying policy. Honestly, I felt like this was a press release that needed to be written because it makes us look good: it looks like we're ahead of the game and trying to prevent problems, but it's also a current issue that affects all our students. BUT....I basically had to interview myself. I wrote the cyberbullying policy, and I also write the press releases. I felt a little smarmy writing it. I got to say everything that I felt should be said and I got to make sure I didn't misquote myself. On the otherhand, the whole piece of paper was basically The Angie Show. Ironic for someone who claims to hate attention. (And I promise you, I really do.)

This morning the person on the other end of my boss's conversation had only good things to say about the article--3 columns in the paper!--and wanted to see a copy of our cyberbullying policy on top of it! My boss said that whoever was on the other end of the conversation said it was well-written and intelligent, too. Telling me something I wrote was well-written and intelligent? ::swoon:: Complimenting my writing is like scratching a dog on his belly: we'll be buds for life. And using the word intelligent? ::double swoon:: Whoever was on the other end of the phone, I gotta say: whatever you want, you got! I owe you big time.

I suppose what I like best about this morning's bit 'o happiness is that whoever was on the other line wasn't just paying me lip service. They don't know me and they don't have to say anything about my work. And, I highly doubt they were paying my boss lip service, too. It feels great to have someone completely unbiased go straight to my employer and tell her that something I did was "intelligent". Squee! ::happy dance::

So there! Take your negativity and shove it! The last few days have been good days because I had something good to take away from them. It's one thing to intuitively know that what you're doing is good, it's another to hear validation for it! Despite all my frustrations, the last 3 workdays have made me happy, and that in itself is worth celebrating!

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