Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Spent Tuesday afternoon in the company of fellow teaching staff from the various colleges. We had been gathered to give feedback to our employer (via an impartial third party observer from the private sector) about how things are on the frontlines, and what the Ministry can do to help make it better for us.

There were lots of vocally charged women seated around me. Apart from myself, there were only another 2 guys, and they both left the talking to me. Not sure what I can divulge from our discussions other than that we had quite a cathartic trashing-it-out session amongst ourselves.

But through our brutally honest exchanges I sort of got the feeling that most staff unhappiness seems to come from the individual institution's culture and protocols. There were only a couple of major issues that all of us experienced in common, but most other peeves seem endemic only within our own personal environments.

I'm cynical enough to know that whatever upstairs thinks will benefit us bottom-feeders, by the time it trickles down to us, the idea would have morphed into something quite different, and more often than not means more work for us. For example, when our Boss said teachers would get more time (para 20) for personal development, what we got was an hour scheduled into our timetables for a weekly "sharing session" by fellow staff on topics that needed to be approved for relevance to our teaching subjects.

The formality of these sharing sessiosn makes them limited in effectiveness. We would have got more problems surfacing, more ideas thrown about, more collaborative planning of activities, and a more conducive working environment if they had just given us a common slot on our timetable (which they have) just to hang out with fellow staff, drink coffee and yak agenda-less (which they haven't). Better still, if the timeslot was, say, just before lunchtime on a day we didn't have to return for classes so that we could spend the rest of the afternoon doing fun stuff with each other too.

But of course, people are just going to see this interpretation as 'wasting taxpayers' money' because none of this can be counted as 'work.' After all, we're not paid to have fun, are we?

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