Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Communication Breakdown, non-profit edition
Went to a very uncomfortable local non-profit board meeting last night, and am thanking my lucky stars that my term on this board is up at the end of the month. While the connections I've made there have been helpful to my own business (hurrah), I'm so glad to be done with it. Long story short, among other community projects, this board oversees a preschool, and the discussion last night was whether and how to find a new teacher for this preschool because the current one showed her ass recently.
Actually, come to think of it, this is an exemplar of Podunkville culture, so I should give some more details.
I've met this preschool teacher a few times and am not a fan. She has a passive aggressive style, and is a horrendously poor communicator. She also lacks some of the basic certifications that other local preschool teachers have, and is therefore not someone I personally would have hired, but I digress.
At last month's board meeting, the teacher came to the board and epically "kitchen sinked" the room - screaming and crying for nearly an hour about how she has been unhappy for the last 2 years but until that night she had never once said anything about it and she had been asked countless times. She isn't sure she wants to continue teaching all 4 classes anymore, and she went on about how her mom came to one of the classes with her and told her "these families are taking advantage of you" and she suddenly left, in tears, before the board could finish responding. With only 6 weeks left in the school year, she sent a rude mass email to the school community ordering families not to arrive even a minute early, and that once class was over everyone needs to leave the school immediately so she could prepare for the next class arriving 2 hours later - nevermind if a mother needs to sit down and finish nursing her baby - they can "go to the coffeeshop down the street" (in direct violation of the awesome state law protecting the rights of nursing mothers in places of public accommodation.) Naturally, the preschool community feels really alienated by the shitty way she chose to air these concerns that have clearly been bothering her for so long. My conclusion is she is someone who just doesn't get it. Compounding this, she is in her 30's and this is her first full-time paying job after college. I get the sense that she lacks the personal and work experience that would allow her to distinguish between mountains and molehills. Privately, I was left wondering if she could benefit from a psych consult - she seemed unhinged and I felt sad for her.
Why does this person still have a job? One of the positive and negative things about Podunkville culture is that people in authority are afraid to be assholes, and firings of "nice" people - even those who break the law - happen in only the most extreme cases, and after a lot of rumination. It's a culture that makes change hard. Maybe it is also like this elsewhere, but having lived only in larger cities before, this is the first place I've encountered it.
Anyway, I feel awful for the families who are now wondering if it will be ok to leave their kids with her.
Gah. This is why I want to teach my kids effective communication skills - so they can learn how to speak their truth and to constructively problem solve in a way that doesn't poison relationships.
Anyone ever been there, done that?