Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kept?

During a presentation, a man that I hold in high regard and for whom I have great respect stated essentially the following (quoting as best I can from a couple years ago):


Educators are basically “kept” individuals that typically have never had to venture out on their own. When we were children, our parents cared for us, we attended college where necessities were provided, and then we were hired into a field that provides income, insurance, support, training, etc. We have never, as educators, had to create or re-create anything in order to survive.
As the individual stated the above, he also was very careful to apologize and state that he wasn’t meaning to be offensive or say that educators are lazy or incompetent (as some naturally bristle at anything) and was including himself in the mix. I remember the statement’s core message and some of the following conversation that ensued, but it wasn’t a turning point in my life or even an “ah-ha moment” for me.
Spin the hands of time forward about two years now, and this statement really started to make more and more sense. Due to budget reductions, one of the actions of my school was to reduce an administrator. That burden had to fall somewhere, and it landed on me after 8 years with the district, which left me out of a job with a family to support. That also meant no health care through the system and even a limited professional sense of who I was. That part surprised me.
I flashed back to this statement, and realized the truth in it more than ever. It was a realization that my employment really is much like my parent or guardian, making sure that things get done and are accounted for accurately. It provides structure and security as well as challenges and income.
Since that point, it has been my fortune to interview at several schools across my state and enjoy the learning and exchanges that occur in those settings. A few times I saw some positions that seemed to be a very good fit, but the district found an educator that they saw as a better fit. Other times at the end of the interview, I knew the phone would not ring with good news as the fit was clearly not there. The part that I liked is that they saw me for who I was and what I stood for.
As the season for hiring was well underway, there were several opportunities still waiting and still being hired, but it seemed to me that they were less plentiful and maybe even less of a fit. At some point, I decided maybe it was time not to be “kept” and began talking to a few people out of the educational community as I continued to interview and submit applications in the educational field. Although it was certainly an interesting option, most of what I heard was not overly appealing and lacked a certain level of challenge that I have come to expect and enjoy. It would, however, be a job and I could support my family.
I don’t know how many times I heard about doors closing and windows opening, but it was frequent. I appreciated the concept and believed that it was true-that the right thing would be out there. It’s amazing how that happens sometimes as ultimately a district and I found a mutual fit that I anticipate to be a great opportunity for myself, and it is my belief that the district will also benefit from my efforts. Although I would have taken a few other positions had they been offered, this position is clearly one of the top two for which I applied and was interested. So good, solid doors closed on me (ouch, by the way) so that Garage Door of Opportunity could open and beckon me in to a challenging and rewarding position that I look forward to starting. What a relief and burden was taken from my shoulders when that occurred.
Once again I will be the “kept” individual in a system that values students and learning. I can live with that.

Reactions:

13 comments:

Kastendieck said...

This post irritates me. Why would this be? I agree with it. That is why... Perhaps jelousy because coming from the side of society that does not have a job that offers the kept status and now being in the kept position I also feel like a hypocrite. I know of quite a few teachers that fall into the kept category,"good for them". But not really. The kept status is showing historically what happens to people limited with the kept concept. Hormels, IBP, Firestone, Mining, and so many other jobs that kept their employees from birth (yes as the parents worked for the employer and then the children) to death (pensions and retirement plans and death benefits). These big business employers promised security for all and they all fell short of that promise and who paid for it the 'Kept'. So is public education any different'NO!. Marshall as you indicate after 8 years you found out the hard way and it was not just because you were an administrator which made you vuneralbe. So learning this and seeing how it affected your family and yourself be careful not to fall into the trap again. What can you do? Make your talent marketable in several formats. Always be searching for diversified areas to your passion. Don't doubt that if it came to an end tomorrow that you could find some other venue that you can do what you are good at and remember that you are good at more than one thing. Never be satisfied with the money and benefits end of kept but instead embrace the change and challenge that this 'kept breakdown' opportunity has given you.

Trish Morris said...

Part of me understands what you mean by "kept", and I also understand the effect/affect of feeling as if you are "kept" can be. However, there are times when fate intervenes and when you can give fate 'the bird'. I think people limit themselves when this occurs. Sure, we all would like to be employed in a field that we have chosen to be a part of, but that isn't always the case. I certainly never planned on doing what I am doing now - in any sense whatsoever. However, a request was made, an opportunity arose, and I took it and ran with it. Closing doors, opening doors, doors slamming shut - I guess I say 'so what!'. It is all that you make it to be, and personally I don't want to feel as if I am a ping pong ball being batted around with my not being able to control where I go. Opportunities may happen when you least expect them and in such a way that you wouldn't normally have picked.

Marshall - I certainly look forward to working with you and am certainly happy that the door that opened for you was the one on our porch!

Hope to see you on Friday in CF - BTW - Scott and Nick agreed with me that BK is very lucky to have you on board!

Kastendieck said...

Yes I agree with Trish that BK is lucky to have Marshall Lewis as the superintendent. Not that I think that the opportunity to be 'kept' again in the educational field is what this new job adventure will give nor was a ping pong effect (even though it might have felt like it at the time) what ultimately happened. I think part of the challenge of a superintendency is knowing that the 'kept' aspect is not a sure thing. With school closings and districts in jepordy of closing administrators are also finding the 'kept' promise to be fading fast as well as teachers who are on the low end of the seniority list. So now lets translate this into what it means to our students. Schools need to realize that jobs of the future do not offer the 'kept' status that they used to. Jobs will be ten years and then change into some other task, skill, or just be ended. Teaching students for the job market that is here and in the future means teaching then core skills but also creative thinking and adaptability. So there is the challenge and as superintendent of BK... go for it!

Marshall said...

Thanks to both of you for the support, and I will try my best to live up to those high expectations. I was reading this morning from Florida's "Rise of the Creative Class" and he touched on the concept of being "kept" as well. He indicated that those that are creative are potentially going to be independent contractors of creativity, moving from one short-term assignement to another, sharing their skills instead of staying with a single company or firm over the long haul. Depending on how short the stint, I believe this is what I am speaking to. If these individuals are truly independent and moving around every 2-3 months to work on a project, they are clearly not "kept" in my sense. They are risking having a job in two months, being required to identify and attain their own insurance plans, saving for retirement, covering their own illness and absences (for which they would not be paid), and likely charging much more in terms of wages than if under a contract. The biggest part here is the potential to be temporarily unemployed at any given point. Many facets of our economy revolve around this concept of both kept and not. Farmers - not kept; industrial line workers - kept; motivational speakers/entertainers - not kept; hotel/motel service providers - kept; anyone you can think of essentially falls into one or the other. I personally just like the term because it creates an image that prompts good discussion.

Kastendieck said...

Glad to see you started to read Florida... That is exactly what I was getting too. I will admit that creative people would like often to be kept it is really hard on families to depend on someone who is truly taking the risk of being creative and independent and unkept. In a relationship like that you will usually find one person being the kept so the other can be independent. Kept is really important if you are in to security but the problem is kept in this day of age will dump you even if you are okay with it. Oh Farmers are also kept (family land, crop insurance, govt. subsidies) Industrial line workers are mainly unkept in these years (unions do not have the power to keep companies from going over seas or closing) So back to students...we must teach creativity.. that is the skill that will get our students through the future!!!

Kastendieck said...

Got a great book that deals with the concept of 'kept'. 'Rich Dad Poor Dad' byRobert T Kiyosaki (2000). Here are a couple comments from the book."One Dad believed in a company or the government taking care of you and your needs. He was always concerned about pay raises, retirement plans, medical benefits, sick leave, vacation days and other perks....The idea of job protection for life and job benefits seemed more important, at times, than the job." One dad taught me how to write impressive resumes so I could find a good job. The other taught me how to write strong buisiness and financial plans so I could create jobs.""My highly educated dad recommended that I do what he did. ' son want you to study hard, get good grades, so you can find a safe,secure job with a big company. And make sure it has excellent benefits." My rich dad wanted me to learn how money worksso I could make it work for me. These lessons I would learn through life with his guidance not because of a classroom."
Enough said , great book and great insight. Not all about money as it sounds. A lot about kept versus unkept...

Trish Morris said...

Not only do we need to teach creativity but also adaptability. We are not in an era like our parents - society, environments, expectation are constantly changing - being static is not going to be an option for our kids.

'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' written 11 years ago is outdated. The reality of being able to stay in a position, career, job (whatever you want to call it) long term like our fathers/grandfathers for most of our students now is not going to be a consideration for them.

That is why, I believe, that the term "kept" will have no real meaning for future generations

Marshall said...

Does the likliness of forced mobility and lack of stability mean that the future employee will also be less loyal and dedicated to his/her position? Will our workforce become less committed to producing good products and/or services out of a sense of pride ("I work for ******* and dang proud of it!")? Does that commitment to one company/employer/industry become outweighed by the necessity of good references when looking for the next position?

Trish Morris said...

This is what I see when I look into my crystal ball.... :-)

Forced mobility = chosen adaptability, not necessary a mobile issue.

I am think more toward the term 'white color' (which I believe will not be a description)in this situation. We will always have those who will not have to be mobile, and will have stability, but as we move toward a more global society, we do have to consider that people will have more roles than we had jobs (in our definition).

I also don't believe that the number of 'roles' a person has in certain industries will be a detriment when an employer considers them for a job - in face, I believe that employers will consider that as a favorable quality.

Kastendieck said...

Trish- I agree totatlly that the term 'kept' has no meaning for the future and is almost gone as we blog. Maybe the last vestige of that term would be military and even that maybe not.
Marshall- forced mobility is not as big of an issue with technology. Yes you do need to be near a central location but even in teaching we are seeing the use of shared ICN classrooms and total on line classes. There will always be some jobs linked to a site but not nearly as before.
Lack of stability I do think leads to less loyalty and logically that is an issue that will have to be deeply addressed by companies of all kinds. I know my work ethic is the same whatever job I have but I know that is not true for everyone. I know why I work hard (self respect and the idea that I help kids through eduction). If I was working on a factory floor again I would still have that element of self respect but not sure if I would have a loyalty to the company. So in education the reason most professionals have the job is the bigger picture not the 'I am proud to be a BK employee ' rather 'I am proud of how I am part of the process of teaching at BK'.

Kastendieck said...

Marshall you posted this thought..."Does that commitment to one company/employer/industry become outweighed by the necessity of good references when looking for the next position?"
Yes I think it does...When your need for the reference is a must for the next position and when the next position is needed to continue financial stability. Yes when to continue the commitment to a company/employer/industry will cost the reference needed because of a conflict between the reference writer and the company.
No I think it doesn't... I am having a hard time coming up with an idea of when a person can stay committed to the company/employer/industry can be maintained when the need for a reference is so crucial to obtaining the next position.
Help me out?



No

Marshall said...

I would simply answer that with the concept that commitment is much different than completion. You are committed. I know that. That means you will see what needs to be done and do it. Others may complete the tasks out of a sense of requirement but not in the same way that a committed individual that cares about the kids will. There is a big difference when you include the dedication to make the bigger picture better through passion for the job.

Kastendieck said...

Commitment can be set aside when looking for the next position tinges on the welfare of family commitments.
Completion is necessary to get the last pay check.
Required commitment to students and education is what I hope every educational professional expects from an employee in education. Required commitment to a boss or school district because of job security goes against 'what is good for kids' sometimes.
Dedication to the job is what is hoped for when requiring commitment to education and students.
Passion for the job breeds dedication which leads to commitment and completion. Passion for education is needed when a commitment to a job interferes with needed references. Had an administrator say to me, 'If I can't be truthful and put the needs of the student first I don't want to be here'. That is passion.
So this blog is about 'Kept" Kept, in the ideal of educating students and doing the best for children, I hope I always have.
Kept in an educational position or school district not as important...
I know you are kept in the passion and devotion of doing what is best for kids through education!

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