The path of return to work never did run! (long)

mahatmacat1September 26, 2012

Hi folks,

I'm having a problem and I hope anyone who has experience either volunteering or supervising volunteers (both of which I have, and I would never behave as my supervisor is right now) can help.

I've been volunteer teaching (I used to train and supervise teachers in these kinds of organizations, and finished my doctoral classwork in the field) two classes of ESOL in a community organization for the past three years. I was hoping to use the volunteering to refresh my skills and ramp up to paying employment as my DD entered high school, I've loved being in the classroom, and I've presented at a local conference this past year. My supervisors have enthusiastically supported my application for paid work.

This past summer, though, when I got around to applying, the local CC (the only game in town) tried initially to dismiss my application because I was overqualified. I argued successfully, kind of, that my qualifications did match the description, but I don't think it did any real good, because I discovered (and had confirmed by other people) that the CC seems to be a bit of a clique and now I'm in teacher-pool limbo. There aren't many similar openings out here for someone with my training because the organizational culture in adult education is very different.

Anyway, I've been mostly keeping a stiff upper lip and trying to see the good in not getting paid work, in being in ironically high demand to do on a volunteer basis what I used to do professionally, that there is some reason in it and I should be flattered that folks recognize the value of my work even if there aren't paid positions they have control over...

The truth is, though, that it's VERY hard for me, since I had worked since 1977, all through college and two graduate programs, until I stopped to raise our DD...I'm a worker, that's what I do. I feel like my bag is heavier with every passing's really hard sometimes not to get depressed...

And now to the immediate problem. The supervisor where I volunteer, a 'lady bountiful' kind of woman who is married to a multi-millionaire and definitely has no clue how privileged she comes across saying that the pay she gets for her supervising job is pocket money (the same pay going to our home would be serious college savings), that her husband wants a new Porsche but she wants to get the Mercedes station wagon she drives fixed first, etc..., and is a complete miser (just one example plucked from many: I gave my assistants gift certificates for entire dinners at a great, authentic, non-SYSCO-food-Mexican restaurant for the holidays last year, a place I had raved about and wanted to share with my assistants [theyliked it too!]; this woman gave me a $5 card to Starbucks. I'm not kidding. I was almost too embarrassed to use it, but when I did I shared with the baristas that it was a holiday present from a supervisor and they commiserated...Never in a *million years* would I give a full-grown adult who had volunteered her time under my supervision something like that. This woman spent the entire summer on her yacht, so it's not like she doesn't know better.) has saddled me with being the host for the class internship this *entire* term of a student (who is near my own age, and has worked in the field already) going to a for-profit ESOL accreditation program. The supervisor told me she thought I was the ideal person, blah-blah...and basically gave me no real choice.

I'm pretty sure that she's getting paid for allowing this person to observe my class, but she has ducked my questions twice, telling me "oh, you won't have to do anything extra." I tried to find the positive, to say that the person has been put in my path for some reason, but I don't know it yet, and to keep an open mind, but as it turns out, even from the first meeting this 'observer' has proven to be a bit of a disaster. Her pedagogy is very different from mine and she interjected herself into the class on the first 'observing' day. I am resenting the notion that I have to spend time figuring out how to manage her to avoid crisis in the classroom; it takes time away from my volunteer preparation.

I am also very much resenting that my supervisor won't tell me that she's getting paid for this. She knows we are hurting for money and I am trying to find work, and yet she's willing to stick me with this extra onus, dismiss any concerns I have, and dodge my questions. She could share some of the money with me but she is choosing not to, and it turns my stomach. I would never behave that way if I were in her position.

I love teaching there, but this situation is seriously threatening my ability to continue. Every time I think about the next session I think of having to worry about the next time that 'observer' will quietly correct a student as the student was trying to form a meaningful sentence!! (to teachers, you know that you don't confuse fluency with specific grammar exercises --it's the fastest way to quash a fragile developing identity in a new language) Just telling her not to speak in class, though, is like putting one finger in a leaky dike, because the kind of person who would think it's o.k. for her to do so is the kind of person who always has to be watched. And I don't want to watch anyone, OR be watched, for free when I know someone else is getting paid and taking further advantage of my work!! There are other teachers there but I think the supervisor is afraid of letting her see them, because they're not really professional level and the supervisor does nothing in the way of ongoing teacher development.

Anyway, does anyone have any words that will calm the black cloud that's gathering in my chest? I'm so frustrated in general, and then to have this thrown at me, extra work to do as a volunteer that the supervisor won't even admit is extra work...I'm really upset. One complicating factor is that she would be one of the few recommendations I could use if I ever do happen to meet someone in the local CC who has control over hiring...I need not to alienate her...but she's so entitled-acting and gets so bristly when she thinks she's not getting something she wants...ugh...

Please help!

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Please excuse any awkwardnesses, comma splices, and general left-out-words in my post. It was revised several times and I didn't 'see' it until I actually posted it, iykwim.
I'm supposed to be putting together tomorrow's class but I'm just so averse to it now..

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 8:49PM
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I don't have any experience with volunteering, so I am no help there. I do however get these daily meditations and I have been pondering this one the last couple of days. I wonder if it might help how you look at the situation...

"Who do you work for?"

No matter what you do or who you work with, the work you do must be for you.

If you're an employee in a business, think of yourself as a consultant. Start managing your career as you would your own company.

Through this you place much greater value on your time and skills. You take control! And, when you're in the driver's seat, you can't be shaken by the toughest manager, ruffled by office politics, offended by rumors, or frightened by business dips and organizational changes.

No matter what happens, you'll be okay - because you are your own boss!

Today's Affirmation: I am my own boss.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 8:52PM
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boop, you have definitely hit on something...I've often said that if I believe in something, I will do anything (reasonable!) to promote it without the slightest embarrassment, but I have never promoted myself and have *always* felt uncomfortable even thinking about trying to claim a need for even payment or anything for my if, if I really believed the work I was doing was helpful to the world, I wouldn't be asking for money for it...

I know this sounds completely nutty...I do know it. It's also prevented me from taking advantage of opportunities because I thought they were too crassly bourgeois, unladylike, or money-grubbing...selling myself makes me so acutely uncomfortable that I have ended up selling myself short. Everybody wants me to help, and (maybe because?) they know I'm dumb/embarrassed enough to do it for free.

I also have tried to become someone who tries always to say yes to requests--to open myself to experience and see where it leads me...I initially instinctively said "no" to this, but then I thought "just try it--you never know", partly because I'd earlier said 'no' when people offered me jobs and opportunities because of the dreaded Cinderella complex...

What to do now...I am also not wanting to confront this woman and possibly alienate her...

But how, how, did you hit it so dead on? I'm sitting here beginning to tear up...

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 9:20PM
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Flyleft--what is CC? Are you working for a country club? I'm sorry, my vibrant middle aged brain is just not clicking into place on that abbreviation.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 9:26PM
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I am so sorry you are going through this. You are basically doing a professional job for free. This would be OK if you did not need a paid position and wanted to volunteer for the sake of volunteering.
This set up is not healthy for you. Your supervisor sounds absolutely horrible. You are being used, plain and simple.
Is there anything else you can do?
I have a MSW degree. I used to hate when people used to say, "You are not in this career for the money", as if you should be poorer than those you are suppose to be helping!
I get how some careers pay more and we all can make a choice, but not to the point where you feel taken advantage of.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 9:42PM
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That is *SO* it, ellendi. You are in a similar field and I've experienced that exact line, coming from the CEO of a nonprofit I worked for in NYC -- justifying her extremely high salary compared to the salary of the educational staff, all of whom had masters' at least, and were brilliant and committed -- "if you wanted money you should have gone into something else", as if you deserve to be ripped off and live in poverty because you've chosen a helping profession. I don't want a yacht, I don't even want a Porsche (although if someone surprised me with it, I wouldn't throw it out of my garage : )) -- I *do* want to be able to save up money for our one daughter's college, I *do* want to be able to hold my head up and get respect for my expensive years of training and hard work.

I just told DH what boop wrote, and how stabbingly appropriate it is...and he asked what you are asking--is there anything else I can do? I'm thinking maybe, if I look around, but I've invested so much time and love into this field, and I'm rather good at it, and I'm over 50 (52 tomorrow, in fact)...ageism is very much alive and well in the hiring market these days. UGH it makes me tired and sad to have to think about...what fields would want to take a 52 y.o. career teacher...

(running, CC is community college -- LOL about country club...LOL again thinking about it...!)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 9:53PM
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flyleft have you looked into private tutoring? I taught at my local CC for a few semesters when i first graduated and HATED it, I hated the politics and the arbitrary requirements and the whole deal. I enjoyed doing private tutoring much, much more and it was much more lucrative. You could do it on your own (I did) or look into companies like the Sylvan learning center. Depending on where you live, you could also look into doing test prep tutoring if that was something you are interested in, I found that to be the best paid of the tutoring gigs.

When I was still in law school, I also applied for and got accepted to be an online tutor for SmartThinking (I never did it because I found a higher paying job). At the time, I think the pay was only $10-$12 per hour but it is a paid position at least, plus you can work from anywhere and your teaching degree would be extremely helpful in getting a position.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:21PM
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I love Boop's post and I'm glad it helped you. I don't have any words of wisdom, just wanted to wish you a happy birthday!! You share the day with my mom who will be 79yo tomorrow. :)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:33PM
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I share your frustrations about re-entering the work world myself. I am not taking your concerns lightly.

That said, you are being taken advantage of. You think you need to take Moneybags aggravation because you need her as a reference. But after the story of how stingy she is with her volunteers, I suspect she will be stingy with her praises as well. Do you really expect any rec from her to be stellar? Why would she give you a glowing rec if it means you will leave her and make her life harder? She definitely sounds selfish enough to want to hold you back.

You overlook how much Moneybags needs you.

You are the person with the better hand in this situation. Whatever the reasons you have for volunteering, they are not financial. You can walk away at a moments notice and your standard of living would not change at all. Yet you continue to be generous with your time and expertise. This is wonderful!

But it also means that because you are not being paid, you are under NO obligation to deal with Suzi-Know-It-All. If she makes your work unpleasant, tell Moneybags that Suzi-Know-It-All is a real distraction in class and is making it difficult for you to teach. You would like her removed from class. If Moneybags tries to chide you into going along, I see no problem with saying straight out:

"I am not being paid for the work I do, but I do it because I enjoy it. Suzi -Know-It-All makes my time here UNenjoyable. Why should I continue to do this?"

This presents Moneybags with an either/or situation. If she is getting paid as you suspect, she either loses you - and the money she is being paid to take on Suzi-Know-It-All. Or... she "finds" some money to keep you around to deal with Suzi-Know-It-All. Or... she gets rid of Suzi. The was I see it, any way you come out further ahead than today.

However if she calls your bluff and refuses to change the situation, you must quit. If you don't, Moneybags will just ask more and more of you - and you will have shown her that you won't do anything about it.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 11:35PM
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beagles, thank you for the idea, and for sharing your experience. I really appreciate what you're saying about CC teaching, and it stands to reason, given how officious they were in the application process...maybe it's a blessing in disguise. I have never really thought about it that way before--you have brought a whole new angle into the discussion.

And re tutoring: yes, I have many years of experience (back in the 80s and early 90s--feeling very *old* remembering that now!) of test prep and private tutoring, on SAT verbal, GRE, SSAT, and the English Achievements, as they were called back then. It was a quite heady time, tutoring the children of the rich and famous in NYC in the Bonfire of the Vanities days...and I made the most I ever made per hour (and often in cash : )) in that period.

Yet again, even to Upper East Side magnates who, I realized later, *wanted* to pay a lot to be able to say how much they paid their tutor, I undersold myself, because I thought it would be obscene to make as much as some of my colleagues/friends were making. Silly, *silly* girl.

Once I went into adult literacy, though, I never looked back and considered that part of my life over. Now that I have ESOL experience, I have been thinking I could start offering tutoring in English fluency to many of the folks who come to this area from outside the country and are very fluent in numbers but their limited English skills get in their way in the business world...

I suppose it's worth pondering again...and learning about the new SAT, as little as I respect standardized testing.

allison, thanks for your birthday wishes, and happy 79th birthday to Mama allison! Does she have typical Libra characteristics too? : )

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 11:39PM
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Fly, skipping over most of the posts to say I think private tutoring would be great. I always hired tutors for my kids in areas they were struggling with. They are hard to find!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 11:55PM
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nicole, I always love your posts, girl : ) I'm so glad that you wrote on the point that you did, because I've just been wondering what to do in the *short* term. You put it in such clear contrast, almost to the point of simple logical equation.

I think I'll be rereading your post several times. It's incredibly helpful.

And golddust, thanks. There are more tutors available around here, maybe, than where you are, and also more folks trying to start in the field because of the recession/layoffs. I do have credentials unusual for this part of the country, though...I'll see.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 1:05AM
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OH, and I meant to add, nicole, that you are indeed perceptive -- when the CC job came around last summer, her first reaction was "oh, but then I'll lose my best teacher"...I have a feeling I looked pretty shocked because she snapped to and said "but what a great opportunity" and from then on behaved more supportively. Yeah. My imaginary friend nicole sees straight through you, moneybags : )

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 2:45AM
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Happy Birthday, fly!!! I hope you're feeling a bit better today.

I agree 100% with Nicole. You are so stressed and if you don't watch out, it will effect your health.

Unfortunately, it's hard to win against a clique. If it were me, I'd do the following because the stress is so not worth it.

Confront Money Bags and tell her you need to be paid to help put your daughter through college. Be honest with her. Don't even bring up the assistant in the conversation. Now isn't the time to do it. At this time, it's all about you getting paid.

If Money Bags still says no, go above her head if possible. What about the Dean of the school? The school needs people like you!

If everyone closes the door on you regarding pay, then walk away with your head held high. As Nicole said, you won't be losing a paycheck.

The stress you're going through is my main concern. I used to have a boss who threw files on desks, and the other secretary had to take valium. lol. That was the day I went to lunch and never came back! My health was more important.

Because of your education, there has got to be something else you can do. Even if it's not in your field of expertise. Right now you need to get your child through college and hold your head up at the same time.

Don't worry about confronting her, you have to do it. What would you lose by doing so? Absolutely NOTHING.

As Boop said, you are your own boss here. Lose the fear in standing up for yourself for your own well-being.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 6:59AM
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I agree with the others - you have to stand up for yourself. Write down what you want to say and practice in front of the mirror. Condense your concerns to a few short bullet points. Stay on point and don't deviate.

Your "boss" is very skilled at manipulation and deflection. If you aren't satisfied with her answers, tell her so and walk away. If you are happy with the outcome of the meeting follow up with a summary email so she can't twist things down the line.

If you do walk away, you should tutor until something in your current field opens up. It doesn't have to be the high end tutoring that you did before. Plenty of kids need help with lower level math. It may not be as satisfying but you will get plenty of satisfaction from starting the college fund.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 8:04AM
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I know you ultimately want a paying job in your field but right now your are working for free for people who don't care or appreciate you. What if you opened your own ESOL program on your own?

You could offer your services for free and maybe down the road, open your own non-profit organization.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 8:49AM
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Happy Birthday!

I like Kelly's idea. I have been fortunate in my volunteer experiences and have never really had an actual "supervisor". Certainly nothing like what you are dealing with! Volunteering should be rewarding. Both for you and for those you are helping. I'm so sorry you are helping with this but not coming away feeling good about it.

I agree that your services could be utilized elsewhere.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:15AM
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I've also done lots of volunteer work in my community, particularly around land use and zoning issues with developers. When I realized there was actually a career, and a way I could "professionalize" my interest I decided to pursue it. I am a 50+ year old woman. I continue to volunteer but I volunteer now with an agenda. I give an organization my time, my expertise, and make a commitment to follow through on my responsibilities. What I expect to gain is experience, a network, and fun. Yes, fun. There are many people who are very happy to throw unpaid work your way, especially these days when budgets are routinely under attack.

For example: I was in an advisory group organized by a local state rep. We were working on projects related to economic development. One individual in this group was a real PITA. A former MD in his late 60s and clearly desperately in need of being the big boss. He ran roughshod over us (he was just another volunteer) like he was the chief. I stuck it out for a while until I realized 1) I hated it 2) Every encounter with this man made me feel terrible 3) There was no money in it so what the heck was I doing? I felt very torn because I liked the project but ultimately I dialed my involvement waaaaaay back while I took stock of the situation and then quit.

What I realized is that a volunteer commitment is different from a paid job. You tolerate certain things longer at a paid job because it's a JOB. That's what you're being paid to do. A certain amount of suffering is part of the JOB. The money is basically meant to mitigate the pain,discomfort,encroachment on your mind, heart, life.

So while I really admire your loyalty to this organization and yes, to your students, it's coming at your own expense. What are you getting in return for your investment? A recommendation? I agree with the poster who commented that this woman is not likely to be generous in her recommendation. It's spot on. People are who they are. A five dollar gift card? The school should have made an organizational policy of giving volunteers a special gift or a lunch thanking them for their contributions. Good volunteers are hard to come by and this is both a failure on her part and an institutional failure.

So, Back to my doctor/volunteer, several months later I learned that he was actually involved in a volunteer capacity, at different times, in other groups and was universally DISLIKED. This wasn't one group or two. It was like four or five! He had a reputation for creating an unpleasant environment whereever he went, taking credit for work that others had done, being bossy, etc. There were even rumors of sexual harassment and misogyny! Duh! And there I was, being miserable and wasting time trying to guess what I was doing wrong.

My guess is that it's widely known that your not so lovely boss is not good to work for and your leaving is a reflection on her, not you. The time you spend being stressed, miserable, etc. is time that would be better spent invested in getting on with your career and finding either a volunteer project that is to your liking or a paid job. One thing -- I don't see any mention of moving. Is that a possibility? In this economy people have to sometimes go further geographically to get the job they want. It's possible that you will find more opportunities elsewhere. I know. My husband is a super-commuter (not in a good way) who works in a city in another state and has to fly back and forth every week. It's just a reality in this new era of globalization and recession that you sometimes have to go where the jobs are.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:17AM
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I thinkk you have gotten great advice here. Managing volunteers used to be part of my job when I was working in Development for non-profits. We treated the volunteers like royalty. We depended on their help and were grateful for their unpaid time. I don't understand why this woman is behaving the way she is.

One of the great things about volunteering is that you can say no, I'm not doing that and they can't fire you!

Time to move on, I'd say. It might actually be easier to apply for work at the CC if you are not perceived as a volunteer.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:21AM
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I think part of dealing with your (legitimate and understandable) emotions is to change the tape that is playing in your head.

You chose to interrupt your career to raise your DD, and doing so entails career risk. But it was your choice, and I am sure you are happy you did it, and happy that you were able to. So that needs to become part of the tape playing in your head. "This is a pain, but I am so glad I had ___ years at home with my daughter"

I also sense, and could be wrong, that you enjoy what you are doing. It sounds like an enormously rewarding vocation, and I also detect also that it makes you feel good about yourself, doing something you know you are an expert at. Many are quick to say you should walk away from your volunteer job, but I am less sure, because I think a fair amount of it is satisfying to you. I do think you have every right to be firm with the interloper in your class. YOU are in charge of the class, and whether you are paid or she is paying or whatever, YOU are in charge, period. I think this person really NEEDs to learn from you that she is being counterproductive ... god help the students if she gets her own ESL class. So, if I am right, you should be saying to yourself "I love what I do, I am very good at it, it is very valuable. It keeps me in the swing of being a working person, and I will keep doing it until something better arises."

Now, back to the practical realities: 1) Money and 2) the lousy "boss". You feel that you need to earn some income. You need to be upfront about that with everyone in your circle. You also, if you really want to earn money, have to be open to what opportunities there are for you ... it can't be that the ONLY thing you can do to earn money is to work at ONLY at that CC teaching ESL. Sure, that is your first choice, but if you want to earn money for DD"s college the clock is ticking and you have to be more open-minded. (Say, why don't you set your sights on that administrative job you complained was too high-paying? why can't that be you, at least some day?) Tutoring seems natural, plus is it lucrative, cash, and flexible. I think you need to start telling yourself that you are looking for something to earn money for a purpose, and that it need not be the 100% perfect job if it suits your purposes; DD's education. I think you need to remember there is nothing ignoble about wanting to earn money! You can do well and do good too!

Now for the boss. We will have to take your word for it that she may have some power in helping you get your "dream job". And if that is the case, you have no choice but to suck it up. Who hasn't had to do that at some time in their life? Her financial situation has nothing to do with yours, though, and you need to stop dwelling on that (you will always find those more fortunate and less fortunate than yourself). She sounds quite unlikable. You need to start telling yourself "I am only putting up with this silly woman because she may be helpful; I am using her". That is, in fact true. She is using you too, but you need to rephrase it in your head so that it does not make you feel depressed and out of control. You are in control. You have decided it makes sense to put up with this lady, So that's your decision --- don't be unhappy about it. It is a rational trade off.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 10:29AM
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I agree with much that has been said before. It is my understanding that you are teaching a class(es) that have an end date, you are volunteering in hopes of getting a paid position, and you are being given more responsibility than you feel you want for a volunteer job. Yes? I would write a letter (everything is more official in writing!) to your current boss and "cc" her boss, who I assume is the Dean. If not, then I would "cc" everyone up the chain of command until you reach the Dean. Tell them that you love your teaching position; however, you find you need to look for paid work. You will continue teaching to end of the term (Dec, I hope?) as you are committed to your students and to the CC, but will be unable to take on additional responsibilities as you will need to step up your search for paid work. Mention nothing negative in your letter, only positive statements about your experience and the job. This dumps Suzie back on your boss and you don�t leave the CC in a bad place that might come back to bite you when they actually have a paid position available. You will let the Dean know you want a paid position and if they want you at their school they will need to hire you. They are not going to hire you while you are willing to work for free. Never, ever say anything bad about moneybags. If this burns your bridges at the CC, then you were never going to get a paid position there anyway. So it goes. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 10:31AM
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First order of business: I offer my belated birthday wishes, lady! Happy, happy Birthday, Flyleft (from a fellow Libran!) Hope you had a great day.

Sorry you've been experiencing this stress and anxiety. So many excellent points and suggestions have been made here.

Nicole hit one very important point on the head with,
"You overlook how much Moneybags needs you."

Indeed, volunteering unfortunately can open a can of political and psychological worms as much if not more than paid work can!

You see, some people, even supervisors, will look at you, darling volunteer person, with a mix of appreciation, envy, disdain, and confusion. "What is she *really* up to?" They ask themselves every time they see you, enthusiastically doing your work for no pay. " she after my job? Will people actually look up to and respect Ms. Flyleft even more than me, Ms. Moneybags? Would I ever be so generous as to offer my time and talents free of charge?" You see, you raise several red flags, my dear innocent little volunteer. YOU have more power in this situation than you realize. (Maybe you could think about that power you have, and own some of it!)

See, you're viewing Ms. MB just the way she wants to be viewed: as the boss, as powerful, as rich and in control. But wait! You're the one with the graduate education, the experience teaching, the generosity to share your gifts while asking for little in return. YOU are adding VALUE; to this place and for your students.

You are an example. A powerful example of character that people are taking more notice of than you surely realize! Look at you, a well-educated, professional woman who is volunteering, and being of real service to the community. Ms. MB has a job. A very good one at that, but don't lose sight of the impressive role that YOU have too!

You've heard me talk about love-based decisions vs. fear-based actions before. Any step you take that is in honor of your LOVE of something, will be appropriate to your life in some way. It will be authentic. You may not emerge the "Winner" by outside standards, (or you may) but more importantly, you will be doing something worthwhile and real and true for you. If, on the other hand you decide on taking some action because of a fear of something, that action will not serve you well. It is doomed to fail. Only you, dear Flyleft, can determine where your heart is, and which course of action is in the service of something, some principle, belief, person, thing, whatever, that you love.

I am sending positive vibes and my very heart-felt best wishes to you as you navigate through this territory (Territory that is riddled with thorns and waist-high weeds, I realize. But you can do it! I believe in you.)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 10:31AM
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I totally agree with geogirl. A friend's daughter went on an interview which was clearly below her experience. They were so impressed with her that they created a position for her! My daughter had a part-time job right after graduating. They really liked her work. She found a full time job in the same field and told her boss she had to leave for full time work. Two days later they matched the offer so she could stay.
Also, is there a possibility of volunteering less when the semester is finished? It seems to me that oing one class would be the same for you because you can still have your hand in what is going on but at the same time you can be doing a paid job.
Flyleft, is it known that you WANT full time work or do the others just assume you are happy volunteering? Also, who else can give you a job reference that would reflect the type of worker you actually are? I would not trust MB.
I do understand that volunteer jobs sometimes turn into a paid position. It happened to me many years ago. At the same time, there needs to be a time limit for you because you have the goal of a college education for yur daughter.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 11:01AM
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Good morning, all of you incredibly wise women...

Wow. I've just read through once what everyone has said and there is so much perceptive, insightful, useful thinking and shared experience...I *do* feel better just knowing that you all are out there (the 'imaginary friend' thing is my way of speaking about the people we come to know online but wouldn't recognize if we crossed in the street : ))

UGH...I just lost a VERY long response to oakley, dee, and kelly...I'm going to post this and then start again.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 11:09AM
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Have read all the posts and you have received excellent , to the point, advice. I want to wish you a Happy Birthday and here is hoping that you arrive at a peaceful decision. c

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 11:10AM
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O.K., let's try it again, and I'll break it up into smaller chunks so that if I hit a wrong key I won't lose half an hour of writing...

oakley, thank you for the birthday wishes : ) and you're so right on with the concern about health. I have lost sleep over it, as you might imagine, and for the first time in years the prospect of going to class is a *stress* rather than a great, fulfilling joy. That's not good, esp. for someone who has had a mystery heart attack before. I walked out of a day job at an extremely unethical company (it produced a famous show with clips from just-starting-comedians and up&coming musical artists -- they would use the clips and then routinely renege on their agreements to pay these folks what was to them a tiny amount of money but what represented big milestones to the performers, because the company knew the performers didn't have the money to sue them. Disgusting.) in my 20s with no job lined up, complete with Billy-Jack-style farewell line LOL, but that was the 80s in NYC and I found a great job the very next day. You are right--I need to protect my priorities, one large one of which is my daughter's college fund.

deee, a *great* reminder not to fly off the handle today, but to collect myself this weekend, anticipate the possible outcomes, and prepare for how *I* want the interaction to go.

kelly-um...WOW. Thank you. You make such an obvious and crucial point. If I want to tutor for free or low-cost, I might as well do it in circumstances that don't drain me. Man. I've considered the prospect of starting my own non-profit but then I think I'm 52 -- not 25 -- and I wonder if I would have the stamina to be the engine of such a demanding venture. But I should think about putting one foot in front of the other, when I leave, and seeing where it takes me. I can't make *less* than I'm making now LOL...

(more in next post)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 11:25AM
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tina, thank you for your support. All of this is especially ironic because I have several years of experience doing what she does, just on a much larger scale in NYC. The center had a completely different vibe; we had regular meetings in which teachers would share successes and challenges, we recognized teachers and other volunteers in a significant way and as ded said, as the *gold* they are.

judith, I admire your willingness to think about starting a new professional trajectory at 'our' age : ) And you're right, I do love what I do, every bit of what happens in the classroom. Observing and adjusting plans/determining direction and activity in the classroom on the fly is a perfect fit for my ADD : ), keeps me on my toes because there's always something to pick up about how someone learns, where precisely someone is in terms of acquiring a new concept, how people are relating across cultures and ages--so much! I learn something every day.

RATS -- I have to leave for class now...I'll reply to the rest of these amazingly supportive gifts you have given me later today. I *can* go, though, feeling backed up by all my imaginary friends : )

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 1:11PM
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I've considered the prospect of starting my own non-profit but then I think I'm 52 -- not 25 -- and I wonder if I would have the stamina to be the engine of such a demanding venture.

flyleft, if it is something you are passionate about, you should try it no matter what age you are. No matter what, in a year, you'll be a year older than you are now. Wouldn't you rather have given it a try than to say to yourself next year that you wish you'd started a year ago.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 3:04PM
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flyleft, as one who started a new business if her 50's, I say go for it.

In many ways the experiences I have accumulated through the years have been a great counterweight to the stamina I have lost through the years. Some days I plod and some days I skip - but I just keep moving forward.

There is a thought that I keep in mind when making you want to be 10 years older having done this or 10 years older having not?

Sorry, no real advice regarding lady bountiful but you have my sympathy. She sounds like a real bore - smug and unaware.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 3:28PM
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Flyleft, I have a background in Esl, tutoring, admissions test prep, and hard sciences tutoring. I have taken the last 8 years off to be a mom, and plan to return to work in the next year or two. First, if you have an opportunity in your area, consider working for a test prep company. I have taught part time mcat,sat,act, psat, and some sat subject tests while being a stay at home mom. As a master tutor, I make somewhere around $30 to $65 per hour depending on what I'm teaching. In this area, there aren't a lot of parents who will pay the rate for master tutoring, so I don't have a big clientele, but I'm as busy as I want to be right now.
I have looked at local community colleges, but the rates of pay are very low, and they frequently said "we are not hiring, but would be glad for you to give time as a volunteer."
I am thinking of teaching in a high school. There are several programs around here that will help me get my teaching certificate by paying for the credentialling coursework. One program that I might like to look into is a title v program that provides support for non native speakers of English who are in a public school.. Anyway I was just thinking that the public school system does tend to actually pay you ; )

I also completely agree with the earlier comment that if you are volunteering for someone, then start your own volunteer program, instead of dealing with that toxic supervisor!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 3:54PM
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Happy Birthday Fly!

It sounds like the main reason you're putting up with Suzi-Know-it-All is to get a good recommendation from MoneyBags, and the only reason you're putting up with HER is to get a paying job at the CC. Right? So you're making yourself miserable now for that 'big payoff' CC job.

What I'm getting at, is that I don't think the CC job is necessarily worth the pain... Now granted, my CC experience is very limited, and may not apply at all to your situation or locale -- but for what it's worth: Several years ago, I was approached about teaching part time in an industry-specific professional program at our local CC. They knew of me through my work at a consulting firm, and thought that gave me the appropriate credentials. But when they got more information about my educational credentials (which were much stronger than they thought they would be), their tone turned kind of defensive and excusatory (is that a word?). They emphasized how their CC program was every bit as useful as my Ivy League degree and how not everyone could afford those opportunities (sniff!), etc. I had said NOTHING to indicate I felt superior, as indeed, I did not!

Guess what I'm saying is that knowing how exceptionally bright and qualified you are, this CC job might not be as great a fit as you may imagine. They may balk at hiring someone whose stellar qualifications makes their own seem comparatively meager...

Someone with your smarts SHOULD be tutoring at a high level. And to keep the 'do-good' aspects that are so personally valuable, what about also doing some pro bono tutoring for academically-able but financially disadvantaged kids? Helping them with college admissions essays, etc?

Charge the rich ones what your credentials merit. You're worth it. And you're right - they do WANT to pay more. Use a bit of that largesse to subsidize your services to the less wealthy and do a bit of social engineering.

As for dealing with MoneyBags -- When I find myself reluctant to confront someone, the most useful advice for me has been: 'What would I do if i were not afraid?'

As has been pointed out -- you have nothing to lose, and room only to gain.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:33PM
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I agree w/ sweeby and my experience teaching at a CC was also not very pleasant. I was teaching, among other things, a remedial research and writing class for people who'd failed the writing portion of the admissions test. I had an undergraduate degree in English from a very good school and a JD from a top law school and I had written several textbooks for a major publisher. After I'd been teaching the remedial writing class for like 4 semesters, all of a sudden it became a problem that I didn't have a PhD in English, they wanted me to go through all of this stuff, writing a paper justifying my credentials, etc. to prove to them that I was qualified.

Meanwhile, several of the others who were trying to imply I wasn't qualified b/c of lack of PhD had their degrees (including their PhDs) from the University of Phoenix online and Kaplan online. Now, nothing wrong w/ going to school online, but I have to believe my JD (which required quite a bit of research and writing) made me qualified to teach remedial research and writing just as much as a PhD from University of Phoenix or Kaplan.
That was the beginning of the end there, I'd already been thinking about moving on since the job was paying less than anything else I was doing, but I was staying because it was just a few hours a week, I liked getting out of the house (I work at home) and I liked SOME of the people who I was teaching, who were really trying very hard. However, if they didn't want me, I certainly wasn't going to continue working there and dealing with that.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 5:09PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Happy, happy birthday, wonderful person! I don't think I can add anything that the others haven't already said. All I would say is, 52 sounds like a perfect time to try something new on your own! I wish I had taken the leap eight years ago. :)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 6:49PM
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Happy Birthday. And add my voice to those saying that you are being taken advantage of and nothing better will come from your association with your boss. If she hasn't leapt at the chance to hire you yet, she never will. It is time to move on.

You've gotten great ideas from others,and I would add substitute teaching at local public schools to your list of possibilities, if you have at least a Bachelors. My friend did this as a way of re-entering the work force and it gave her income and kept her busy while she decided what else she wanted to do.

I wish you well and good luck!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:04PM
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After reading about your heart attack, I strongly believe you need to get the ball rollling asap by gently confronting those in charge. If it's a negative response, run, don't walk from that place!! And then try as hard as you can to put that whole situation out of your mind. I guarantee you you'll feel so much better.

The day I walked off my job, I drove to my dh's office. Walked in his door, closed it, and I started bawling asking him if I could quit. He's the one who told me about stress causing health related problems and encouraged me to quit. In fact, that's when I came down with asthma and I was 32! Ironically, my ex-bosses son and my son became best buds all through school. Awkward! He never did ask me why I never came back after my lunch hour. lol.

You are well-educated and should have no problem finding something that will make you happy and put money in the college fund!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:53PM
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Fly - Another avenue you might consider for "getting your foot in the door" is substitute teaching. I don't know what the school systems around you are like, but they must have substitute lists that you might be able to join. If I were looking now, I would list myself for first through fourth (my math is pretty shaky and I have no idea how it's taught today), and junior high through high school for English and language arts, or whatever they're calling it now. Sub teaching can be physically tiring because you have to stay ahead of the students, but in terms of planning and grading, it's so much easier. And in the meantime, you are into the network and meeting people who may actually be able to help you move along. Just a thought.

About CCs. I have a close friend who retired from engineering at age 67, walked into his local CC and asked to teach a math class, got started; he is now teaching two classes and absolutely loves it. It's obvious that your heart is with being in the classroom - something I totally understand - and that being the case, I would keep that goal at the center of my efforts.

I urge you not to burn any bridges with your supervisor. Do not threaten, storm out, walk off the job, or in any other way indicate dissatisfaction (this does not mean that you should not have a heart-to-heart with your supe). If and when you leave, as someone else here suggested, go out with a graceful letter of resignation, praising the place for the opportunities it gave you. You want to maintain your image of strength and grace. Word gets around. Many years ago I resigned from a postition in which the chair tormented her teachers. No one would have known that from the way I left.

Happy Birthday!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 11:51PM
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Hi all! Today was wonderful in every way--except for the 'observer/assistant' in my afternoon class. My heart is in the classroom, for sure. I love working with both my II and IV classes, and don't want to cause the II learners any interruption or disjunction that might happen if I were to leave midterm.

Based on what I saw today of her behavior, it does feel to me now that there's no amount of money that can outweigh the logical problems with which this whole observation setup was arranged. It's doomed to create bad feelings and potentially dangerous outcomes...getting some of the money they're getting is not the answer. I'm thinking either that we need to reboot the whole situation or the observer woman needs to go somewhere else.

I'm going to send my supervisor an e-mail to that effect--that I really do want to work with her and help make things work out for everyone, but not if it is thoughtlessly sabotaged from the beginning.

What you all have pointed out about my taking the opportunity to try to build my own all are extremely inspiring! As is the Chinese woman in her 70s who started class tonight, who was a laboratory chemist in China before she came here, and with no English and no chemistry degree, she realized she didn't have the time to rebuild her former life, decided to open a catering business selling vegetarian Chinese cuisine. She earned enough in this second career to retire, and *NOW* that she' retired, she's coming to learn English *for herself.* Wow, on so many levels.

I'm going to be thinking about the idea very seriously as the term goes on--I would never want to cause the learners any disjunction by leaving the center mid-term, but when the term is over, it's entirely fair to leave...and the experiences you all have shared re CC teaching are really helpful and sound reasonable. I need to re-evaluate my plans.

Deedee and other inspiring folks who have started businesses after 50, may we revisit this topic later? I can't imagine I'm the only one who is really interested in hearing anything you want to share about it.

And stinky, your distinction of fear vs. love based decisions: I do feel that it's love-based and right to try to communicate with my supervisor about this logical problem. It will help *all* of us to analyze this and really work it out to be whole and constructive from the beginning. If they can't take it, then I'll know I've tried to give my best and that they're just not the proper group for which I should give my energy over the next years to come.

So much amazing thinking here! I hope it's been helpful to other people besides me. Threads like this usually are : )

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 2:29AM
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flyleft, I have reread the posts and still have no clear understanding of this observer's reason for being in the class. What am I missing? Waaaaaay back when I was in school, I recall having classes observed occasionally. An administrator might sit in the back of the room for a day or a student teacher would come to watch a pro. But I can't remember ever having someone present continuously over a long time period. Is this a common practice now and what is the purpose?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:13AM
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Flyleft, a thought about salary/payment/valuing yourself and your work.

It is a psychological quirk that people value something they have to pay for. Whether or not it is truly something of great value, getting it free DE-values an item in the recipient's eyes.

In your situation, if you decide to pursue an entrepreneurial option, I suggest not doing it on a volunteer basis. Seems you have had quite enough of giving your *valuable* skill and expertise away for nothing. Well, you are earning satisfaction of helping others, but it seems clear that your supervisor doesn't value your work. And given the cost=value principle, it's not so surprising.

So, even if income from the work is not necessary for you, some recompense establishes that 1) your skill has a level of importance that means it is worthy paying for and 2) the person who has paid is invested in getting his/her money's worth! It is a subtle but very important nuance.

Here's my favorite simple example. For years my unit at the university had a welcome picnic each fall. It was intended to be for all students, faculty and staff to provide a nice opportunity for kids and teachers to meet, everyone to feel part of the community of learners in a nice setting etc. Our student organization would distribute free tickets for a couple of weeks and that decided how much food we ordered. So...consistently (and I mean for YEARS) the number of tickets given out would be in the hundreds. And the number of people who actually showed up would be literally a fraction of those who had taken a free ticket. We would give out 400 tickets, maybe 100 people if that many would actually show up.

Finally I suggested we charge $1/ticket. Not to cover any costs, but because if people had paid for a ticket I was betting more would show up. And those who didn't want to buy a ticket probably were some of the same ones who were taking freebies with no intention of coming.

Guess what? Our rate of ticket sales/people attending IMMEDIATELY got aligned! We no longer were ordering massive quantities of food for people who didn't come. The simple act of having some skin in the game ie having paid for the ticket meant people took it more seriously and they valued that opportunity.

So please consider not only your own thoughts about your value and your worth but what the other person in the transaction is thinking.

And last but not least, with the stipulation that I don't have much hesitation standing up for myself, I can't imagine why you do not simply tell the supervisor that the observer situation is not working for you and the person cannot participate any more. That's all. Not with a lot of explanation or blame; that turns it into an emotional confrontation and as a professional that has no part in the dialogue. Doesn't mean you aren't upset but that's what friends-and online forums-are for. Oh, and your simple declaration should not include any input on your part about what your supervisor can or should do with observer. It only needs to be conveyed that professionally and for the good of the students, it isn't working and you are telling her that it must stop. And it isn't your problem as to what supervisor wants to do to rectify her own decisions. Don't make her problem your problem. After all, you are in the most powerful position by far in this equation! You are not dependent on that supervisor for anything at all. Exercising power is not a sin or a crime, and as long as you do it for good not evil-it is the right thing to do now.

Because at this point, you are telling (not asking) your supervisor that the cost of having you provide this service is treating you with respect and recognizing your worth as a teacher. See, that is a pretty huge value she and those students are getting! Don't be afraid to charge some respect currency; you are still the biggest bargain that supervisor is ever going to have.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:31AM
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Fly; hope you had a happy birthday.

I did not read many of the posts but the ones I did read gave you a lot to think about

Take one day at a time to try to figure out what to do. I hope you figure out what's going on. We can all speculate; we're not there. Is there any chance at all that this person is watching you to possibly decide if you should move from volunteer to a paid position that could be opening?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 10:12AM
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So summing this up, your boss is a jerk and she has saddled you with supervising a trainee, you resent not being paid and need the money, and the community college has rejected you (which sounds like a blessing in disguise). As others have said, it's time to move on, but in a positive manner, since this organization could be the source of referrals.

I would feel the need to sit down with the observer and talk teaching philosophy.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 10:26AM
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Runninginplace- very interesting story about the picnic tickets! I think you make an excellent point, and one that *I* really need to contemplate more fully. Thanks for the food for thought. (Don't mean to hi-jack here, Fly!) Just think that some of us (Certainly yours truly) tend to undervalue something if it belongs to us!

I've never had a yard sale for example. (Who would buy *my* junk?) In reality, my "junk" is far, far nicer than 75% of what I see sitting out at most sales, but there's a psychological glitch here. (It would probably be a therapeutic exercise for me to have a yard sale, funny as that may sound!).

There are other areas in my life that mirror this, but the yard sale would be a metaphor, so to speak.

Your mentality, Running, is sort of the opposite-"I have something others want, and they want it so much they'll happily pay for it."

This outlook actually in effect, in a real tangible way, raises the value of the item or service in question. As your story's outcome illustrates, that's an effective way of approaching life.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 10:39AM
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Morning ladies : )

As I reread my post from last night, I see so many shorthand phrasings and mistakes...please forgive my exhausted, birthday-cake-addled typing/speech : ) Then I had a migraine last night and I'm still recovering, so I may not be entirely polished and coherent yet, but there's so much to respond to...because

MAN, this is an incredible thread. There are still things from before my last reply that I wanted to address, including first off a bit about why sub teaching is out of the question...our school district has gone through a huge layoff/budget reduction process this past summer, extremely traumatic and publicized. We've now got class sizes about twice the size of those that the Chicago teachers were posting as being unworkably high. Things are really bad here. In fact the largest part of my summer, which I had planned to devote to learning Spanish and finishing the house, suddenly went to helping to develop a parent/teacher alliance dedicated to dealing with the budget situation in a more intelligent, less damaging manner. Literally hundreds of teachers were laid off (and they didn't have to be--long story). So there are lots of teachers wandering around trying to find anything they can...

judith, I agree with you -- the organization of this thing is extremely weird. What's happening is that the for-profit online institution (not a U. of Phoenix kind of thing--an outgrowth of a well-established 'real' university) that the 'observer' is attending is in another state, so they have had to arrange observations for the practica of students who don't have teaching posts at the moment. She doesn't have a teaching post, so the school called our organization and asked if she could 'use' our classes, with no coordination of pedagogy, no recognition of onsite supervision necessary, no nothing...

My background as it relates to observations/internships: I've not only created pre-service training for adult literacy teachers, and supervised *well-thought-through* internships with plenty of communication going both ways, I've also been trained and have trained current literacy professionals in educational ethnographic observation, which this person is *not* doing. (my supervisor now doesn't even know what ethnography is) IOW, I know enough to know that everything is wrong with this lazily-constructed excuse for an observation class.

running, that must have been a really striking course of events for you all. Very frustrating to order more food than turns out to be needed, I imagine!

I do think it would (have been) totally fair for my supervisor to share some of the payment with me in recognition for *any possible* extra bother it might be, and that that's what I definitely would have done in her place.

On a different level, wrt starting a program of my own, I'm sure that other teachers will recognize this phenomenon: the *students* have been much more generous in their recognition of my work than my millionaire supervisor has. I'm talking *amazingly delicious* labor-intensive food made and given to me for our family, large and frequent offerings of frozen home-raised, grass-fed beef, a Visa gift card, handmade craft gifts, even clothing that people have bought in styles of their country of origin...I am embarrassed to accept them because it's more than some of the families can comfortably afford--but I try to be gracious and recognize the emotions and appreciation behind them. These are folks who sometimes can't come to class because they ran out of gas and they can't afford either busfare, or to refill the tank, until the next payday.

So if I do start my own literacy program, I would never be able to charge a cash fee to the learners, because I don't think that they value something less if it's free -- folks who have to scrape by, overworking in order just to have enough money to survive, recognize that we all need to help each other as much as possible, and just because something isn't tied to money doesn't mean it's worthless.

And in ref. to your basic point, that I should just tell the supervisor that the 'observation' needs to stop: that's *exactly* what I decided to do this morning, rather than offer to help facilitate it, etc...I just woke up with the thought that 'this is not my issue and I don't want to expend any more energy on it -- it just has to stop because it's negatively affecting the class." I didn't say all of that in my e-mail, but rather pretty much exactly what you said, nothing more, and not with any personal or negative tone at all. We'll see what happens, but it's definitely proceeding from a solid, love-based foundation of what's best for the class, so I stand by it.

And stinky, you know you never need to worry about hijacking! Like golddust, I think that threads really begin to live when they veer off into new directions and take on new energy, so feel free! It's so interesting to see how different people price their garage/estate sales -- some folks have an "I just want to get rid of it and avoid 10 trips to Goodwill" attitude, and others want to wring every last possible cent from their stuff, even if it means they sell much less. I'm a person who doesn't like to haggle too much, so if something is priced insanely highly, I'm not going to bother to counteroffer, because of the negative energy..not worth it to me, even if the sellers say "make me an offer". eh. It's all psychology, isn't it!

*Now* for my day-after-birthday indulgence, since yesterday was so crazy: a trip to Benjamin Moore for some paint samples (Covington Blue is looking like an early leader) for my file cabinets, and a nice long swim session at our lovely neighborhood pool : ) Swim off all that stress...which reminds me, oakley, that was an incredibly powerful story you shared about the effects of job stress on you. I'm glad it didn't have any worse outcome. We have to remember what's most important, even if some forces would like us to forget...

I've said it before, but you all are completely amazing.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:02PM
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Oh good lord, all that and I *still* completely forgot what I wanted to include to sweeby and roselvr...

sweeby, thank you for sharing your CC experience -- it sounds *so* familiar. On the face of it, I can imagine how my resume might look almost laughably overqualified, and people might get an image of me from it that is *not* what I am if you meet me in person, at least compared to other folks I know with similar resumes. Your story echoes others I've heard about our CC here, the clique wants to hire its friends, regardless of other people's experience. Definitely a case of 'who you know'...

And it's a *great* idea to combine high and low-cost/free tutoring, along the lines of sliding-scale or pro-bono work in other fields. I will consider that in my plans.

And roselvr, I *wish* that that could possibly be the case...but I'm pretty sure it's not. Really fascinating angle, though, and I very much appreciate that you looked at the situation and tried to imagine other possible explanations. We have such divergent thinkers here--which makes sense, since we're hanging out on a creative board : )

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Covington Blue is gorgeous! Yes, get it, paint something Covington Blue! Whoo-hoo!

(Thanks for your generosity in sharing your thread.)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 2:10PM
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Fly, I always forget about your heart attack! You really bounced back and have remained active, so I just completely forget!!


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 3:42PM
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flyleft, you said you couldn't charge your students a fee and that's understandable given the circumstances but are there any grants out there for the kind of work you're doing? Or maybe there is a social services organization that currently outsources this kind of thing and could pay. Finding funding is not the same as a salary, I understand that, but maybe there's something out there that could help. Just a thought...

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:14PM
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GREAT update! I wrote the very simple note to my supervisor, and she called me back in the afternoon (while I was swimming, left a message, so that was easy : )) saying that "yes, your class isn't right for an observer and the Beginner I class has several levels in it and the teacher's having trouble helping everyone, so the 'observer' will work with some very basic beginners instead. That will be better for everyone."

This is a great outcome. I don't care about the money at this point as much as I do about the integrity of the class, and it was clear that the observer didn't want to observe anyway -- she wanted to be teaching. So it works best for everyone! It's not my issue what her pedagogical style is anymore.

Ahhhhh : ) If I hadn't processed it with you all, we could have had a very unpleasant scene instead of the easy transition we did. When you come to the PNW I'll buy you all espresso and the most amazing cake at the cafe of a learner I used to work with : )

And to judith: that's precisely the problem out here. For some strange reason, the CC system pretty much *owns* ABE/ESOL. There *isn't* the multitude of nonprofits that there is back east. For a while I thought they were just hiding, but they're really not here. There are maybe one or two in very segregated neighborhoods, but that's it. No public library program, no wide community-based program. Even the one volunteer program in my town that covered literacy went bankrupt. The pedagogy is also of a much earlier time, in general; not the same progressive approach as in the east and probably in CA (? I'm guessing about CA, actually but the cities seem more cosmopolitan there than here).

So that's why, after years of research, I decided that the CC system was the for all intents and purposes the only game in town, as I wrote in the initial post. Opening and funding a nonprofit here would be a very challenging prospect and would have to involve money from outside the local funding sources.

But once I find some way of making money, I do intend, now that "we've" talked, to go ahead and try to create some kind of native-language-literacy education offering here, even if I never get paid for it. My intellectual and social curiosity are too great. I want to have tried it and found out what the outcome is, if that makes sense.

And stinky, the winner turned out to be the very topical 'Wythe' Blue!

And tina, thank you : ) I still have to take medication and I am very aware when I'm off it, because my heart rate starts right back racing and my BP climbs, and I get headaches. I had felt that way for a few years but I didn't know there was anything I could do about it. I just hope there's no interruption in the medicine supply. If "Revolution" happens and the country goes dark, like the rest of the millions of folks who are dependent on medication for their entire lives, I'm in trouble...but until then, when I go swimming I push myself to anaerobic and it feels so daring...but thanks to the medicine I come right back down : )

Thank you all again -- what an invaluable resource we have here. I feel 15 pounds lighter, and to a menopausal woman that's pretty darn miraculous : )

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 10:21AM
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Congratulations on the great outcome! I just love it when you do something you find personally difficult and it works out well. A win all around.

I have one good friend (Mary) who is not at all conflict-averse. NOT saying she's argumentative at all -- just that if there's a conflict or confrontation that has to happen, she's always the first one in, with no hesitation, to solve the problem.

A group of us were having lunch the other day to address how to handle a tricky interpersonal situation with another group member. We didn't want the group to descend into backstabbing, which looked likely unless the problem was resolved. Well, Mary immediately volunteered to have the necessary conversation -- for which the rest of us wimps were extremely grateful.

Then the conversation turned to how it was that Mary could have these confrontations so easily while it was so very difficult for the rest of us. And this is where it got interesting --

She said she never looked at confrontation as a negative thing, but rather as a positive opportunity for change. That was simply how she viewed things.

For me, that was a real eye-opener, and I've been trying to keep that view in mind. It's an opportunity for improvement, not something to be feared.

And there's no better illustration than your story Fly!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:22AM
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Interesting, sweeby--as long as your friend can keep control over how the confrontation goes, then it can work. I can completely see her point of view, and I've had it at times, and yet I can think right off of one occasion when I've been rather unpleasantly surprised to discover that the other parties have not shared my point of view...but I hope everything goes well with your group.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 1:57PM
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