Monday, October 18, 2010

Ethical Moral Professional Dilemma.....

This is about my (part-time) online teaching job, but it's not my usual bitching about a job that I could easily give up without penalty, nor is it a post questioning why I continue to deal with full-time hassles for part-time pay. And let me preface these remarks by stating for the record that I adore my department chair, the only person I can call with a question and leave her a message stating, "And you better call me back pretty soon, because I'm drinking beer."

We get semester evaluations just like the annual ones we get in my "real" job, and leading up to those semester evaluations we have monthly checklists. This is where the department chairs go in and snoop around in our courses, see if we are answering emails, check to see if we are leaving positive, thought-provoking, personalized feedback to every single assignment (how in the world are you supposed to assess definitions of literary terms? "Great job copying and pasting?" "Love the font?"), determine if we are entering zeros for missing assignments, and basically pick us to pieces because no one is perfect and their job is to point it out.

My monthly checklists are typically pretty good, with some sweet comments about how hard I work and how much she appreciates me. She personalizes her comments just as we are supposed to, saying things like, "Awesome job, [Bragger], I really like the news announcement about feedback." Sometimes I bristle if I think she has missed the mark on something, and sometimes I point it out if it's major. Like the time I got docked for not turning grades in on time, and I had two emails confirming that I had indeed done so.

My checklist for October (wait....didn't we just start October?) was right along those lines, with a couple of exceptions. She made some suggestions about things to improve upon, and then a couple of comments said things like, "I really liked the session on literary elements, Kelly."

My name isn't Kelly.

Now I have to wonder if ANY of the comments were personalized for me, or if she just inserted my name in there a few times.

I realize she has to check every single course for every single one of her teachers, and I cannot imagine the time it must take to do that every single month. In addition, she has her own courses to teach, mostly ninth and tenth graders, and that must be her own very special version of hell, dealing with that age group in an online environment. God. Help. Her.

I realize that she probably struggles to come up with individualized comments for every single aspect of this monstrous checklist, and copying and pasting is a huge time saver.

But shouldn't she read over it before she attaches and sends it? Shouldn't she at least make sure the name is the same all the way through? That way she could at least claim to have attached the wrong document.

Here's my dilemma:

Do I call her on it?
Or do I just accept this (almost meaningless) monthly checklist and go about my business as usual?

And while you're considering that one, here's another one:

This year we are required to develop an ePortfolio, and I have actually enjoyed putting mine together. Each month we have different pieces of the portfolio that are due, with some flexibility, and I have loved learning something new, particularly something technology-based.

One of the comments on my monthly checklist said that my ePortfolio was beautiful and she was impressed with my hard work.

We were required to set up our ePortfolios to allow administrators view them and make comments on them. Here's something she may not know, though.

When I open my own ePortfolio, it shows a history of who has viewed and/or commented on it.

My department chair hasn't looked at it.

How does she know it's beautiful?

How can she be impressed with my hard work?

Should I call her on that one too? Ignore it too? Find some way to bring it to her attention innocently?

Keep in mind that I adore her and don't want to embarrass her.

But I think if I were taking short cuts like that with my students, I would realize I ran the risk of being discovered.



Julie said...

hmmmm... that is a delicate situation. If no one ever calls the administrators on their mistakes , they'll just keep getting kudos from above and the quality of our education system deteriorates. On the other hand, you don't want to make an enemy where there is a friendly working relationship. I think I would wait till the end of the course and then say something.

Amy said...

I've always been told the worse employees require the most work from their managers. If you are a good employee don't feel bad about being ignored. I would think that you should feel good she can make these compliments without question and that she knows the kind of worker you are. She leaves kudos knowing automatically you've earned them and you, in turn, make her job easier, with less work to do.

If you have a good enough relationship that you can bring this up to her and laugh together to do it.