Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Free Advice on What Not To Say at Work

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," home of one proficient (not distinguished) teacher. If you're a teacher yourself, you probably know just what I mean.

I totally expected the transition back to full-time teaching to be stressful. How could it not be? Last year I spent most of my days "teaching" from a recliner, while covered by the ample rump of Gamma Cat.

But this transition has been horrible. Worse than anticipation by a country mile.

I won't even go into the standardized testing (seven days out of the first 25, including the past two days). Nor will I dwell upon the fact that the assistant superintendent decided that the AP Lit kids would be better off with a substitute teacher than with me, when their teacher went out for emergency surgery. (Long story)

But what I will dwell upon here is toxic positivity. It's been a problem in my school district ever since I've been there.

Maybe you have this poison in your workplace, too?

"Let's all be positive here! If you just try being positive, you'll feel better!"

When someone says this, here's what I actually hear:

"It really sucks to work here, but don't you dare acknowledge that. Cover it up with a smile, and take whatever drugs you have to in order to keep that smile on your ugly mug."

Today we had another round of standardized testing. I hate using the computer programs and often fuck it up (including today). And yet two administrators tried to coax one of those phony baloney smiles out of me.

I wasn't having it. I'll smile when there's reason to smile, not because I'm told to smile.

But wait. There's more!

At lunchtime I have a paid "duty" in the cafeteria. I enjoy it, actually, because I'm buddies with all the janitors, and we joke around. Today, the new vice principal came in. She asked me how I was doing, and I admitted to being pretty stressed out.

Her response? "Ah, just have a glass of wine when you get home."

Wait. What?

Free advice to my three readers: Never recommend a glass of wine for a stressed-out employee! You might be speaking to an alcoholic.

This is what I mean by "toxic positivity." Instead of recommending a glass of wine, middle managers should be taught how to acknowledge the reality and severity of the stress. Just fucking listen.


William Shatner breaking down in tears because Jeff Bozos sent him into orbit? GAG ME WITH A PLATINUM SPOON.

You know what I'm positive about? I'm positive all billionaires should be eaten. With or without a glass of wine.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Need a glass of wine to wash down bits of Bezos? May I recommend a nice Chianti and some fava beans?

Janie Junebug said...

Don't you know employees are forbidden to have stress and to have help dealing with it?

I know exactly what you mean by toxic positivity. It's a great term for a terrible problem.


jenmoon said...

The reason people say stuff like "be positive" and "have wine" and "self-care!" is because the institution is fundamentally NOT GOING TO TAKE CARE OF OR HELP YOU IN ANY WAY. That's YOUR problem, bitch! You deal with it!

Bob said...

The last two sentences ... YES!!!

Nothing more annoying than someone telling you how to feel or how to express your feelings, or to effing smile.

Ol'Buzzard said...

One of the most stressful occupations possible.

Anyone who thinks politics in Washington if fucked up, can't imagine the political disfunction in education.

Standards set by poorly educated politicians with no teaching experience.

Superintendents serving at the pleasure of school board members with no educational requirement for the job and no teaching experience.

Principals serving at the pleasure of a Superintendents more interested in pleasing the school board than establishing quality education. The Principal's jobs hinging on making the Superintendent look good.

Teachers at the bottom of the ladder trying to educate children despite political interference, unreasonable standards and disgruntle parents. Not to mention under paid.

the Ol'Buzzard

pam nash said...

Ahhh reminds me of the days of being a regional administrator to a bunch of salesmen. One is never allowed to comment on "stress" or "feelings". One is never allowed to grab someone by the front of their shirt and throw them into a wall screaming the entire time. One must always be smiling, happy, positive, and helpful. My sympathies to you.

e said...

As if men telling women to smile to be prettier weren't bad enough... this toxic positivity is much worse! Love that you've identified and named it so well, Anne.

yellowdoggranny said...

omfg? have a glass of wine..? I'd tell the principle on her..