31 January 2013

Knock, Knock

I am looking for work -- for work's sake and also to establish an income stream. My search is focused entirely in Mississippi, specifically northern Mississippi. I am The Outsider looking for a way In.

I have decided to take a break and rant here for a little while in an attempt to calm myself down and stop tearing out what little hair I have left.

Tuesday, the madness played out in Olive Branch at the headquarters for Kelly Educational Services, a branch of the temporary employment agency Kelly Services. Among the challenges that presented during the 4-hour Orientation session for prospective substitute school teachers:
  • Listening to the fractured grammar and inane subject matter abundantly evident in the conversation of the other five applicants (before the program started) and the Presenter (during the program)
  • Receiving handouts rife with typographic errors and misspelled words
  • Filling out poorly designed assessment instruments, e.g., I'm asked my "race" but not asked in which academic areas do I have special training
The day after Orientation, having already received a resume that includes the lines
M.A., Transformative Arts
              John F. Kennedy University, Orinda and Berkeley CA
B.A., Integral Studies
              CA Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco CA
and a completed application wherein I provided the same information (in handwriting), Kelly Services telephoned me; they needed to know the city and state where I earned my degrees...

So now they have the information in typewritten, longhand and spoken formats.

An example of the Frustration encountered on the road that will perhaps lead to an adjunct teaching position at Rust College (shorter commute and possibly higher earnings):  There does not exist, I am told, in digital or hard copy format, a description of a) the job duties or selection criteria for Rust College faculty, or b) course content, objectives, etc. for the course I've been invited to teach.

I learn this morning that the next step in the process is for me to write a letter discussing my qualifications for teaching the course. I am, at the moment, not sure how to do that armed only with the title of the course, "Fundamentals of Speech."

This morning I thought Let's start the day with a less stressful project. I'll work on my application for the MS Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster. Right.
Please choose your current level of experience...in the following categories...:

in the absence of a list of experience levels to "choose" from

do I place a check mark beside each demographic I've served in the past?  Do I define a set of comparative terms like "novice, advanced practitioner, Master Educator" and enter one of the terms beside each grade level designation? Do I enter the number of hours/sessions/weeks/months I've worked with each group over the last 20/30/40/50 years?


I'm standing before these three gates, trying to get through at least one of them. On a smoke break a couple hours ago, I realized that I view the central task in each of these processes to be proving my competence. Yes, I am prepared to enter and I will carry my weight once I'm inside. Perhaps this is an erroneous framing. Perhaps these gates are not about proving competence for the work at hand beyond them. Perhaps they are tests to prove my ability to follow the rules of the gate-makers and gate-keepers. Or to conform to the template for educators in MS. 

Or maybe it's just the latest version of the same old task associated with all social endeavors:  be in the Now, with what Is.