Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Getting Things Done

Nah, I don't mean the "Getting Things Done" David Allen style, although I do like that way of thinking. Sort of.

No, I mean doing the right thing by speaking up...even when I didn't really want to.

So, this class I'm taking. The one I didn't WANT to take, but have to if I want my accredited degree sometime this year. It's called 'Organization of Information' and is one of the 4 beginning core classes that UW-M inflicts upon all its beginning MLIS/SOIS students. Notice I said BEGINNING. Uh, yeah.

I've been at this MLIS thing for 3 years now. I'm NOT a beginner, not by any stretch. I'm not an expert (yet...wait 'til I get that piece of paper) either, especially not in anything remotely to do with ORGANIZATION.

But because I've been at this for so freaking long, I'm also not as apt to go along to get along. Well, alright, it's not like I ever really have anyway...BUT. I can (and have) just put my head down & do the work, and count down the days until I can be done. Even when the professor OBVIOUSLY got dropped on his/her head once too often as a kid. Even when I KNOW that "this is how it works in the real library world" is just plain wrong. Even when every fiber of my being is thinking, "It's not too late to become an accountant like your momma wanted you to become...".

But not this time.

See, in this class, the one I'm (as well as a good number of St Kate's expats) being tortured with, it was supposed to be a "special edition" for us because we've already taken cataloging (one of St Kate's 4 core classes). Apparently, special=the professor can ignore us because she's busy with conferences. Apparently, special=the professor can grade an exercise and take points off for things that she never specified. Apparently, special=no matter how many posts we do in the forum, there is no further discussion about said exercise, and how we did exactly what the instructions say to do, using the exact model given, with the exact elements present in the lecture. This class has definitely made my top 3 "Worst Classes EVER" list. And that's saying something.

I first asked (sort of nicely) in the forums, "So, what is it you want here?" No answer. "Helloooo?" No answer. To be fair, I did get one from the grad assistant, "Uh, sorry, but I can't help you. I'm not the final authority in this class." After being ignored, I decided to escalate to the next level.

I write a nice e-mail, send it, and wait. And get, "Uh, sorry, but I can't help you. Good luck, though!" back. He even thoughtfully cc'd the professor WITH MY ORIGINAL E-MAIL STILL ATTACHED in the interests of "transparency." I heartily wish I'dve told him, "Dude, if I wanted "transparency", I'd buy some tape"...alas, I did not. This same guy had done the same thing to a classmate of mine (cc'd the professor w/HER original e-mail still attached), who then had a panic attack, because let's face it. We were soooo screwed. Our chances of actually PASSING the class were slim and none, and Slim just caught the last train to Georgia.

And with that, I had nothing to lose. What's the worst that could happen? I'd have to re-take the class? I'd have to transfer back to St Kate's & wait another year to graduate? Pssshhht. Whatever. I remember my Mom telling me a line from one of her favorite movies, "Road House." It's when Patrick Swayze is brought in to be a cooler at the Double Deuce. "Be nice. Be nice until it's time to not be nice."

It was time to be nice.

So, I figured out the hierarchy in the program, figured my best bet would be to just go to the top and work my way down, and fired off an e-mail to the Dean. Who answered me back...and wanted to set up a time to call me and talk to me. Huh. Well, now.

He called, we talked, I laid out our grievances thus far. He said, "Well, she's our best professor for this, and we've never had any complaints." I shot back, "Maybe that's because most people who take this class are just starting their program and don't know the difference. We aren't, and we do." I did say that things have been getting better, and he thanked me for my fairness and added that he really hadn't known what to expect from me--would I yell? Would I rant and rave? I could, if that's what he wanted, but I figured that it would be counter-productive.

My favorite part was when he said, "Tell me what you want to have happen. Tell me what you would like her to do." Mentally, I'm all like, "Dude, first off, I took Management as one of my core classes, so I know what you're doing here. Secondly, I'm a MOM. Do you REALLY think I'm that dense? Third, ahahahahahahahaha...OK." Anyway, we got things worked out for the most part. Hopefully things will be better.

If not, then it's time to not be nice.

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