Julia brings us this prompt today: NaBloPoMo Day 5: I had a little furnace mishap at church on Sunday. What’s something you’ve done for your work that wasn’t exactly in the job description?
Our worship committee chair designed the refurbishment of our most-used meeting and small reception room at the church. She and her spouse also spent a day cleaning and painting the room. I don’t think either of those things were in her (nonexistent) job description. I just thought I would mention that because I was touched and impressed.
I’m not usually the one who gets called on to do this except I will occasionally make a cup of coffee for someone or make a lunch run. When I was meeting with the former mayor and the retired university dean about an adult ed class we were teaching, I kept telling myself that I was getting the coffee because I was the one who worked there, not because I was the youngest and the girl. And there was the time my colleague and I stayed after youth group digging and clearing drains because the church was literally flooding. I also struggle sometimes with things I could ask the custodian or the office administrator to do, but since I’ve never had a custodian or office administrator before, I don’t really feel comfortable doing that. The girl child threw up in the hallway one Sunday morning and it just about killed me to have the custodian be the one to clean it up (I think I owe him a plate of cookies or something). I will ask the office admin to type things up for me because I don’t touch type and she does, but it still seems wrong somehow. I’m just used to doing things myself. My training is as a teacher. We do everything ourselves.
Sometimes I wonder about my job as a composition instructor. Some of my colleagues over the years have believed that their job was to open young minds. Especially in the Midwest (more than California) liberal teachers thought it was their duty to influence their conservative charges. As someone who began college from a very conservative perspective, I struggle with that mindset. I think a composition class should be a place where ideas are discussed, but I believe my job is to teach writing. Period. And yet… In my 10:00 class today we got into an impassioned discussion about domestic violence and gender bias (men can take care of themselves; it’s worse for women vs. men are abused too and they have a harder time coming forward). I found myself using the very discussion to talk about the stigma for men if they are being abused. I think, in the end, it was a good discussion, but I had a side and I took it, and I felt awkward. Is this in my job description? Earlier in the class, I said something about judging writing but not taking sides. Yet… Sometimes the moment is there, and I think I would be remiss as an instructor if I didn’t take it. Is that in my job description? I don’t know. I felt totally energized by the discussion, though. I just hope we were able to do it in a way that all the students feel safe to speak into the discussion. It was a really impassioned discussion, and I don’t know where everybody is. 200 minutes a week. What is the job?