••• Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bring Your Blog to Work Day 

Last month (I think?) Concate had a contest that involved writing a post about A Typical Day in your life.

About a week before I read about the contest, I had already started a post I cleverly titled Bring Your Blog to Work Day. When the contest was announced, I had planned on entering it, of course.

But I didn't.

I'm glad you asked.

I didn't enter the contest because my typical days are so atypical that every time I sat down to finish the post, based on Typical-As-I-Knew-It, the Atypical-Assedness of said Typical would rear its ugly, um, ass, and what was Typical just the day before was suddenly Untypicated, which made pounding out a post on Typical, atypically complicated, or otherwise explanation intensive. It was kinda like trying to write a Spider Web.

If you've ever tried to write a spider web, or even looked at one, you'll understand what I mean when I say that it can feel a bit overwhelming, if not impossible. And before I knew it, the draft post was buried under 6 gazillion other draft posts, the publishing of which you will likely never see.

Since I have nothing else to write about and the upcoming week appears to have Typically Atypical potential, I'm just going to dive in.

ATypical Day
The Job: I am a school soshul werker at a large high school in the suburbs. Most of you may not know what that job Typically entails. When you find out, let me know.

There are many professional faces of school soshul werk. Some school soshul werkers are what we call "general education" soshul werkers, who work with general education students who need some sort of support, through 1:1 counseling, group work and behavioral consultation. I used to perform this kind of service when I worked at the elementary schools. It was kind of nice and kind of not. The "kind of not" part was that a school of 300 kids provides quite a pool of potential clients who are often signed up for services by non-clinical types (school principals) who would do so without consulting with me and therefore, had no real idea whether or not it was an appropriate referral.

See? One paragraph into this thing, and I'm already describing the wrong Atypical day.

I am now what is called a Speshul Ejacayshun Soshul Werker, which means that my caseload is comprised of speshul ejacayshun students, who need soshul werk support as identified through their individualized speshul ejacayshun plan, known as an Eiie-EE-PEe. This is a complicated process, an explanation of which I will not heap upon you. In other words, I still get screwed, only with more K-Y pomp and ceremony.

I typically have 20-30 students on my caseload. The level of service for each varies, but again; complicated and dull. I will say that the caseload numbers are meaningless at face value. In other words, one service assignment can weigh more than the total of six others, in time-intensive units. Yup. There I go again.

All that being said, here is the meat of my duty: ::Heh. She said duty.::
1) See clients as mandated by their respective Eiie-EE-PEes.

2) See clients above and beyond as mandated, as need arises.

3) Consult with teachers regarding behavior issues on above mentioned clients.

4) Consult with administrators who handle discipline on above mentioned clients AND speshul ejacayshun laws that protect said clients from being kicked out of school willy nilly.

5) Perform speshul ejacayshun evaluations on students in my building, with Emoshunal Disterbince, Awtism, AyDeeAychDee and Turette. Some students are already in the system, and the evals are re-evals to determine ongoing eligibilty. Others are referred for evaluation for the first time.

6) Attend lots and lots of meetings on these students. In the spring, I also attend meetings for students coming to me next year.

7) Some of those meetings are arranged and run by yours truly. These meetings are known as Funkshunal Behayveeyor Assessmints, whereupon we put the student under a psychological microscope and pretend we know what we are looking at and what the student needs. I then type it up all perty and share with friends and family. This year, every time, to a student, I finished writing up and distributing the plan, the student has left the school district.

8)Consult some more with teachers and administrators and diagnostic evaluation teammates. ::I've been in the school biz for 13 years. There are lots of rules, which take years to learn and even more years to comprehend. I'm becoming the crazy oracle lady on the block, cause I know some obsure yet relevant shit.::
In addition to the above non-descriptive duties, ::Heh, she said duties.:: I am also a member of the district's Awtism Specktrim Disodor diagnostic team. When a student is suspected of ASD, my team is assigned to do an assessment. I kinda sorta volunteered for the job after kinda sorta being begged and then threatened with being assigned anyway. There are no perks except that I get out of my building, I get to meet some very interesting and amazing kids and I feel like I'm performing a vital service. I actually very much enjoy this part of my job. I would enjoy it much more if it didn't entail three or four more evaluations per year than what I was promised when I was shanghaied volunteered for the job or if I were relieved of some of my other job duties. ::heh::

There are still more tiers to this web, but it's just too damn complicated and truly not worth it. Let's just say that whatever I put in writing as A Typical description, will be double trumped by something totally unique and unexpected and ATypical, which requires drop-everything levels of attention.

And before you feel too sorry for me, remember that I get summers off. I also get paid well compared to my contempories who work year-round in agencies. Without snow days. ::gasp.::

The Ride. If I take the expressway, on a clear pavement day, it can take me anywhere from 18 to 25 minutes to drive to work. The highway I travel is quite hazardous under even the mildest, icy or snowy conditions, on account of the multiple overpasses near or over water. On bad days, I travel the city streets, which takes anywhere from 25-30 minutes.

Here's a shot of my daily morning blur, out the driver's side window:

The blur of the parking lot:

I know that picture sucks, but there were people around and I was not going risk being labelled anything weirder than I already have legitimately earned, amongst peers. You might notice the squiggly red things in that picture. Those are lights on the buses that are lined up, dropping off students. I really wish I could give you a clearer shot of the buses, because many mornings that view provides me with an odd, diesel-infused inspiration to start my day.

And so it begins:

That's my desk, about mid-morning. Since I don't have Typical days on my job, it's hard to walk you through what I do. First thing in the morning, I grab a cup of coffee and look at my calendar. A couple days a week I try to get in client contacts ::I have to see them so many times per month, as Eie-Ee-PEe dictates.:: It works best for my brain, to see a bunch in one day, as each contact requires specific paperwork followup and it's easier for me to do it in batch. If it is such a day, I plan out my contact schedule and put out passes demanding the respective student's audience, which will be delivered to them throughout the day. I then fill out a little schedule, which reminds me who's coming when. If an emergency arises, I will pull the passes for the hour, or rest of day, depending.

After perusing the calendar and passing out passes, I get out my little pile of saved intra-department mail envelopes and pore over the crossed out names of previous recipients, looking for my name as well as names of friends and family, etc.

Sometimes these envelopes go to other districts, so I also check for any familiar names from outside our little mail circle. This task was much more exciting a few years ago, before they threw a bunch of old envelopes away and replaced them with new, boringly blank ones. There was one envelope that I saved for a few years, because of some amazingly, weird-ass synchronicitious pattern in list of addressees. But after awhile I forgot what the pattern was and couldn't recognize it again, so I put the envelope back into rotation. ::It may have been related to names of people who died. I know. I put it back.Okay?::

This here is a shot of the view that actually got me thinking about the Take Your Blog to Work Day.

About a month ago, I was furiously trying to finish a report, that had to be in the mail that day. This is a legal parameter that I must follow. Tres important. No excuses. Blah blah.

So, I shut my office door and stick some paper over the upper window. Putting the paper over the window does not stop people from coming into my office. It does slow them down a little, as they have to take the time to peek over the top ::If their stature allows.:: before knocking.

The blocked view is mostly to curb my visual distractibility. My office is in the guidance office, next to the nurses office ::many students mistake me for her personal secretary.:: and during certain times of the year ::scheduling::, there are many students waiting to see someone other than myself, hovering outside my door.

So there I was, on a Friday afternoon, sitting in my office under the pink-papered-properties-of-a-placebo-affected-delusion-of-being-the-only-person-in-universe, typing away on this report which MUST be in the hands of some mail person by the end of the day, when I see a pair of non-adolescent feet* standing at my lower window. Then I hear a knock.

A teacher enters and tells me about a significant issue with a student. After hearing the story, and considering my current need to complete this report, I send the teacher to a higher authority.

This story repeats itself about seven times throughout the afternoon, with about seven different staff people, regarding seven different students. Being the experienced, professional that I am, I aptly defer and deflect all potential ramifications from myself and proceed with my report writing.

Now, it sounds like I handled the situation with calm and reason. And the teachers with whom I was conversing likely perceived me in the same light. But they were wrong. And so are you.

Because after about the third showing of sensible shoes at my lower office door window, I developed what I can only call a Post-Dramatic-Stress-Response. And from that point on, I could hardly concentrate on the time-sensitive-task-at-hand, because I could not pry my eyes away from that lower window, because I knew there would be more.

More feet. Coming for me.
News-bearing feet.
Advice-seeking feet.
Pushing, er, kicking me over the edge of emotional propriety.

At one point, I jokingly told a particular bearer of good shoes and bad news that I was fixing to hang a sign outside the door that read: If the keyboard's a-tappin', Don't come a-rappin'. Said bearer did not find that funny, nor did he take it as the good-natured hint to leave me alone, as intended.**

But I did finish the report. And come Monday, I went on a soshul werk calamity-fixing-bender. And all was right with the world. Until it wasn't.

Because the nature of my job is that it has no nature.

But I really need to get going, and so do you.

Just a couple more things.

Here's my bookshelf.

I tidied it up for the picture. ::I'm a slob, but it works for me. I don't apologize. There is no right or wrong way to live, organizationally-speaking. That's all I'm saying on this subject.::

On the shelves are important manuals and reference tools which I use in my evaluations. Also are some things for students to look at while not listening to a word I say.

Here's a close-up of the topshelf. Some angels and my Kurt Gibson cup, from back when I still had a crush on him. Before I knew he was dummern a bench of bald, aging jocks.

This is my stack of evaluation files. Typically ::Heh. She said Typically.::
in a year, I will have assigned to me, anywhere from 15 to 20 evaluations. At this moment, I have 15 on my docket, to complete from now until June. I've already completed about 10, this year. Many of these were what I call "unpleasant surprise" evals, in addition to the half-dozen Awtism Spektrim evals I knew could be coming. But there's no whining in baseball or jobs that give you the summer off.

Spring Hopes
Spring is knitting along quite nicely. I will share more in a couple of days, including answers to the multitude of questions left in comments, regarding this project.

But no, it's not a hammock or a hair net or a hootchy spring cho-cho cloaklet.

*In winter, this means the feet are wearing suitable shoes or otherwise not flip-flops.

**There are many delicate, political issues related to soshul workers working in what is referred to as a "host environment," which is another way of saying "you're a fish out of water and therefore you sometimes flop around and smell badly."

P.S. There are two extra, unintended commas in this post. I went back for them, but now I can't find them. And I have to pee. So I'll let them bee.

P.P.S. I don't usually work on Sundays, so therefore would not Typically Take my Blog to Work today. That means....oh, never mind.


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