“It’s not my job,” is a sentiment that speaks many truths, or at least exposes many identities; no, the statement speaks truths, truths and identities are not exclusive. In many cases, knowing your job, doing your job well, “staying in your lane” and fulfilling your role as a member of the team is the way a program may run and the way it needs to run for the sake of efficiency, productivity and success; the world is big and there are a lot of different things that can be done in different ways. Then again the feeling of “It takes a village to raise a child,” is also a valid way of evaluating whose role it is to do certain tasks.
Like with religion, what I am going to describe is how I choose to manage my life, this should not be taken as prescriptive or a suggestion on how any individual should live their lives, only as an illustration of what works for me. If something I suggest rings true for you please steal it and utilize it to the best of your abilities, if not, I am not bothered by my message being ineffective for you. Truthfully, I know that there are many different ways to do things and that each way of doing things serves a purpose, you need to do what is best for you. Like religion, I believe in something that works for me, if your beliefs do not align with mine but they work for you, I am excited for you and pleased that you have discovered something that will fulfill you.
As a teacher it is clear shortly into knowing me I am weird, different and bizarre. As a person outside of school, I’m the same. People who have gotten to know me embrace these qualities about me and are often in tears of laughter at my antics. While a student school, I was the class clown. Even more as a teacher I am a student, but also a class clown. Part of being a class clown is providing comic relief. As I grew older I discovered when clowning was relief and when it was a nuisance. As a teacher, I have become more aware of appropriateness of clowning and been able to take the role of counselor, when needed, or wailing wall, when required.
It is NOT my job to be a therapist, in fact I am not qualified to carry out this duty. I have the knowledge that I could cause more damage by “opening wounds” that I do not have the training to suture. I am not a student’s friend, I am their teacher, it is not my job to be their friend. I am not their parent, it is not my job to raise them and if I cannot claim you on my taxed don’t call me “daddy”. I am not qualified to manage these matters and I am not going to do anything of the kind. It’s not my job.
My job as a teacher requires for me to care for the best interests of my students. If listening to them, allowing them to feel valued, giving them perspective on things that I have endured and allowing them time to evaluate their positions in the world without stewing and fermenting I will do this. It is my job to care for my students. it is my job to be there for my students, it is my job to add to their lives as much quality value as I can and it is absolutely my job to model to them the best person that I can show.
My view toward my students extends to anyone I meet and anyone I come in contact with. During the summer I manage a ropes program for a premier sleep away camp; I would give them name but I’m not sure I am allowed to and they don’t need help advertising. I get paid well for my work and I do my job well. After lunch time I often assist the wait-staff and kitchen with clearing tables, washing dishes and resetting the tables. I was asked why I do that and the response was easy, because I am capable of it. I know that I am helpful, but I am not looking for acknowledgment of that fact; I do it because I know they need the help and by helping the best I can I am showing the wait-staff and kitchen they are valued and that their work is appreciated. Like being a model for my students I hope that some campers, maybe other counselors and specifically my daughter, who is a camper there, will see my hard work and helpfulness.
I chose to blog about this topic because I was at work in the teachers’ lounge today and I was washing the sink out. This sink has a sign above it that says, “Hand-washing only in this sink.” If I had made the sign I would have included “please” but that’s just something that I do and that’s not the point. Every time I had used this sink to wash my hands I had noticed there were always fruit flies swarming around the sink. It is clear that there is plenty of debris in the sink and it is in need of a washing. Clearly, the sink has been used, maybe often, for rinse out dishes and such. The action of washing dishes over time may have led to the sign designating this sink as hand washing only; to only be ignored. I interacted with another adult:
“What are you doing?”
“Cleaning the sink, trying to get rid the fruit flies.”
“That’s not your job?”
“That’s okay, I had a minutes.”
It’s not my job? Maybe, but what is my job then? Like opening emotional wounds of students could I do damage to the sink. I don’t think that the other adult was concerned for the safety of the plumbing or the stainless steel sink with the hand soap and brown paper towel, I am guessing that the other adult was helpfully advising me on me not being required to go above and beyond my duties as a teacher for the less than 2 minutes I was washing out the sink. As mentioned before, I am not concerned with others’ way of doing things or how they may think about things. Thank you for the advice, but respectfully I decline. I find it less useful to complain about problems and more effective to quest after solutions. “There are no problems only solutions.” (CP Kirk).
Don’t restrain yourself with things that others didn’t do, rise to do things that you can do.