Sunday, 27 May 2007

Well Developed

Every Wednesday afternoon, we have a team meeting at college. At last week's meeting the outcome of the yearly observations was on the agenda. I was told that because the observer didn't turn up I would be allowed the grade 1 I got last year. I smiled to myself, thinking thank God for that. "However," Carly, my manager added, without looking me in the eye, "An ALP (Advanced Learning Practitioner) will come in to one of your lessons, to help with your development."
"I don't need developing. I'm well developed," I said looking down at my double D cups, and forcing a smile.
"It's merely in a supportive role," Carly cajoled.
"No. It's not," I insisted. "I'm not being observed again. No matter what you call it, this is observation by the backdoor and I'm not having it." I was starting to feel very angry, but I managed to control my emotions and keep my cool. I continued, "I completed my part of the deal. I spent days preparing. I had everything ready. Every lesson was stressful waiting for him to arrive, and he didn't show. I'm not going through that again. If anyone comes into my class I will walk out."
The faces of my colleagues sat around the table, expressed surprise at my out of character outburst.
"We'll talk about it after the meeting," Carly said.

After the meeting, various colleagues told me that I was right to stand up for myself. Carly was surrounded by tutors and I could see I wasn't going to get to talk to her before home time. So I wrote the following email:

Dear Carly, I was hoping to talk to you after the meeting but there was’nt time.

As you know, I’m having CBT therapy, referred by the occupational health from college, and I take prescribed medication for anxiety and depression. You are also aware that I have personal problems with my son being in prison 5000 miles away, as well as work stress, and the combination of the two makes it difficult for me to cope with any extra demands. My therapist has told me that I must say no to extra demands.

This year I’ve coped well (in previous years, since Jon's arrest, I've had months off with stress)and want to complete the year and not let my students down. Sometimes I feel as though I’m just barely hanging on. I cannot take on anything extra.

I put a great deal of effort into preparing for the observation. I put too much pressure on myself as I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I really went over the top preparing. I cannot go through with another observation or an observation in disguise. I could have got out of the whole observation process if I'd played on my mental state, but I preferred to get on with it and be observed, and this is the way I'm treated.

At the moment I cannot take anymore stress than I already have.

Barbara Barnes

Carly read the email before she left. She came into the room where I was setting up computers for my evening class and gave me a hug, saying she would sort it out. This helped, but the situation knocked my confidence and I didn't feel up to doing my class. I'd been doing so well with the CBT thought diary, I really believed I was getting better, but this has made me realise how fragile I've become and my head felt as though it was bursting with stress. With encouragement from my colleagues, I managed to get myself together enough to take the class, but I've still not recovered.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Attwood

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