Observations from a Dependent Home-Owner

Just as I’m willing to acknowledge my skills and accomplishments, I am comfortable admitting my short suits and failures. From time to time I’ve shared that I’ve always worked outside my home because I’m so much more confident in my professional arena than I am in certain areas of my personal arena. My husband and grown children seem to think I’ve done a pretty good job but, even they would admit I lack much ability to diagnose, repair, or evaluate some essential technology-dependent functions in my home. That’s why the company that provides me with a “bundle” of phone service, TV, and internet is such a part of my life – I’m dependent upon them for communication, entertainment and research. And I have disliked them intensely because, during the last 3 or 4 months, they’ve all but taken over my life – not just a part of it. Allow me to vent (by the way – they don’t seem to want to hear me vent when I call, and, 5 times out of 6, struggle to find my 2-year account, and totally overlook that they’re hardly the only show in town, and I could easily switch to a competitor. And we plan to!) Read the rest of this entry

Happy Anniversary

Clearance Lights has just passed its 2nd anniversary. We’d like to take this moment to consider where we are and where we might go in the future. First, thanks to all of you who have dropped by to read our musings. Thanks also to School Transportation News for reprinting our posts. We’d also like to thank our respective spouses Mike and Jan for tolerating yet another distraction.

celebrateWhen we first started this blog we were looking for a quick and easy outlet to express our opinions and to incite some discussions. In that regard this effort has been a success – even if the discussions have mostly been between the two of us, while the “quick and easy” wasn’t quite. We’d still like to get more of you involved in our discussions. To that end, we’ve slightly revised the layout to highlight most frequently commented posts. Please let us know what else you’d like to see here. More or less opinions, analysis, stories, and humor? We’re definitely open to suggestions.

BTW, we’ll graciously accept anniversary gifts when next we see you.

Reconnecting … and Recharging

There are some days I wonder why I continue to be a school transportation director.  There’s certainly not a long line of applicants for the job. I usually quickly put those thoughts out of my mind and get to work providing service for students and their parents. Frequently this means dealing with angry and upset parents, irritated administrators, and frustrated staff. On those days I console myself in the firm belief that I am making a difference in the lives of students.

Last Friday was one of those days. A brief perusal of my calendar presaged the tedium of multiple meetings punctuated by the occasional “customer service” call. Not realizing that the day would turn out to be so busy, a couple of weeks earlier I had agreed to visit one of our elementary schools to read to students during Literacy Week. Read the rest of this entry

Hasty Choices

I learned a lesson this week about making hasty choices.   I’m in a book club – it has nothing to do with pupil transportation or the law, and I just love it.  The club has  met, since before I joined, at a local large book store that is quite close to my home.  The members come from surrounding towns, and some of them have had to travel quite a distance for many years to come to our once-a-month meeting.  Recently, one of our members suggested having a trial meeting at a new library branch that is quite a bit more convenient for these more northern ladies, while still fairly convenient for those of us who live closer to the book store. We all understood that the purpose of the trial was a possible move.  After a most enjoyable meeting there this week, we planned a vote on the three choices now available to us:  to switch to the library, to stay at the bookstore, or to have meetings at the library for 6 months, followed by meetings at the bookstore. Read the rest of this entry

The Guts to Really Be Fair, Firm, and Consistent

One of the workshop sessions I particularly enjoy teaching is a class for new supervisors/directors. Usually attendees are eager and even anxious to learn the “tips of the trade.” There are always some “veterans” attendees who are there to be reminded of why they do what they do. Then there is the occasional “wily” veteran who is really there to “catch” the presenter in a contradiction or error.

Early in a recent session we talked about choosing your battles. That is, an effective manager can’t do everything at once, or certainly can’t do it effectively. In fact, if the manager has his/her proverbial finger in every pie it can really hurt the operation.  It negatively impacts morale, staff development, and overall performance. Read the rest of this entry

The Guts to (Self)-Serve

The district is considering contracting-out services, and your position is on the line.  You have data – both hard and soft – demonstrating the negative side of such a move.  But wouldn’t presentation of your case just be an obvious attempt to look out for yourself?

There’s more talk about budget cuts, and the need to combine positions.  Personnel will, inevitably be, on the chopping block. This is the time to sing your own praises – and, in fact, you’re more versatile and adaptable than others in the department.  Although your self-interest meshes with the company’s interests, won’t you just look like an opportunist if you speak up?

Many of us engage in a year-round search for balance between wanting to be anonymous and wanting to be noticed, wanting to give and hoping to receive, wanting to appear humble and needing to represent your strengths in a forthright manner.  This drive for reconciliation of opposing emotions was at the foundation of my obsession yesterday about an article sent to me by my co-consultant with Education Compliance Group, good friend, and most respected HR professional Mark Hinson.  His cover email stated “Interesting article making the case for sexual harassment training in person.”  Mark had recognized an opportunity for us to publicize the valuable training and consultation services we offer via Education Compliance Group on employee-employee sexual harassment.

The December 9, 2013 article, by a respected consultant/ trainer in Mark’s region strongly implies that recent court opinions on a particular workplace sexual harassment case had blasted the use of a training video, shown to both employees and management alike, which provided “no opportunity for interactive dialog with a professional trainer.”  In fact, the case that triggered the article is nearly two years old.  While inferences could be drawn about the courts’ preferences for in-person training, the judicial opinions involved were far more vague about the necessity for specific training methods.

The article’s author knew a good publicity angle when she saw it.  I found it somewhat self-serving, but was – and am – absolutely ready to get on the bandwagon with a Legal Routes article about the value of our in-services about employee-to-employee sexual harassment.  You see, I have the guts to self-serve if it’s in my readers’ and colleagues’ best interests.  I’ll segue into discussion about my initial forays into using Skype and other methods to provide cost-effective front-row, interactive training to school transporters without my ever having to get on a plane. I believe completely in the absolute benefits an entity can gain by having customized training programs with an instructor at the site who can help personnel understand what the issues mean to them.  I soundly buy into in the comparative value of a “real” person, available to tailor training to the needs of a particular state, region, company, or district over a generic video product – let alone, one that may be stale or not directly relevant to the industry.

The question is not the value of the service available, but the motive of the person advocating use of the service. With mixed motives, should the potential to be seen as too obvious, too opportunistic water down my approach.

It’s a broader question, if you’ll follow me down the crossroads of my mind and tie these questions into the scenarios at the beginning of this blog. What if you have an idea that will benefit students but also show off your talents and strategies?  What if you see the value of creation of a new position that you’re just the person to fill?  Are you hesitant to advance your ideas – especially if you stand to gain from adoption?  How do you feel about shameless self-promotion. . . .if it would be good for your organization and its mission?

Well, I’m going to push ahead with my article.  I’m banking on Legal Routes subscribers focusing more on the points I’ll make about training concerns and less on the fact that I’m shamelessly marketing my company’s services.  I think it comes down to this: If the people you serve will be better off because you spoke up, then speak up.  What do you think?

Happy Thanksgiving !!!

Peggy and Pete are taking a break for Thanksgiving. We’ll be back with our usual (semi-)witty and sometimes provocative takes on life in mid-December. Please enjoy your time with friends and family and know that we both are thankful for your support, attention, and (in many cases) friendship.

The Guts to Keep Pushing

We’ve all been there. We make a suggestion that we’re certain will make things better. Instead of being greeted with support or acceptance we’re met with waffling, or worse yet, resistance.  Whether it’s stated or not, the message is clear –  “Please move on to other issues.”  Frequently it sounds something like this, “Thank you for your suggestion. We’ll take it under consideration. “

I recently attended an IEP meeting where I was invited to review a student’s progress towards transportation independence. This junior high student with special needs was to be learning “stranger danger” so that she would be able to travel to the neighborhood bus stop safely. Eventually, the goal was that she would be capable of getting to school as her non-disabled peers do. This student was very “high-functioning” and just needed to learn some safety habits. It would not have been unreasonable to expect her to not require special education transportation at all by her sophomore year in high school. Read the rest of this entry

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