RIF'd and Wondering What To Do

A recent plurk from a colleague caught my eye, paraphrased below:
Earlier this year, my district implemented a "reduction in force" (RIF). That meant I lost my job as a district technology support person, but I didn't lose my job with the District. I applied and obtained a job at a campus as a teacher. Now, my principal is asking me to do work I once did in my technology support position. What should I do?
It's a tough situation, isn't it? The District has essentially told you, "We have to eliminate your position due to funding cuts." Yet, when you're a technology "expert," you're essentially like a priest who's no longer doing the job...your hands are still consecrated, still imbued with mystical power.

When your boss asks you to do something, calling on special talents that are needed but no longer recognized as worth paying for, what do you do?

Some of the responses folks have offered include the following:

  • Explain to the principal that you need to make a point of not to be the go to person. Show professionalism.
  • If you go back to the classroom, you shouldn't be expected to assume extra duties.
  • "I'd like to help you but unfortunately the position I'm in now, doesn't allow me the time."
Unfortunately, I find these responses unsatisfactory. When I served as a 5th grade teacher, teaching Reading/English Language Arts and ESL in a small Texas town, my skills with technology often involved me helping other teachers and administration. I didn't expect any extra pay, although if people wanted my help after-hours, it would cost them a free dinner they made themselves, not take-out...I still remember a catfish dinner with some fondness. In fact, just last year, someone treated me to a BBQ lunch for helping out on the weekend. 

Regardless of where I've worked, I've had to make a decision as to whether to step up and take on more responsibilities--like helping people with technology--or sit back and let them struggle. As an educator, I've chosen to embrace those opportunities.

I understand that losing your job (yes, I've done that, too) can be stressful. Yet, if you are committed to being an educator, a teacher, you have to expect your administrator is going to call on your skills. Just as you help him and others around you, so will they help you in time. But don't get me wrong...whether you obtain any extrinsic benefit isn't the goal. The goal is that sharing what you know to help other people ALWAYS is good.

That's why my motto is "Share more." That's why my advice to someone who's been RIF'd and finds himself in the situation described at the start of this blog entry is, "Adjust your sails."

"The pessimist complains about the world.
The optimist expects it to change.
The leader adjusts his sails."
John M. Maxwell, leadership expert, author  

So, what about it? Think I'm wrong?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


EdTechSandyK said…
I completely agree that as educators we should always be willing to share our expertise as time allows. I, too, helped many a colleague with computer questions when I was in the classroom.

I would say, though, that if you are in a position where being a classroom teacher is your primary role, as your RIFed friend is now in, then those classroom responsibilities should take precedence. If the choice is between doing what the principal requests beyond your current job scope or doing complete preparation for the next unit you are covering with your students, then the unit prep comes first. If the principal wants to relieve the teacher of some of their class load so the teacher can perform work on educational technology initiatives for the campus, that also presents a possible alternative.

Performing duties outside the requirments of your job should happen voluntarily only as you have time, energy, and interest. Those "extras" shouldn't cut into your personal life or require extensive use of your uncompensated personal time.
Alfred Thompson said…
I'm pretty much with you. Yes the school is taking advantage and no its not right. But being able to help and not helping just goes against the grain for me.
Ric Murry said…
People need to read Linchpin (Seth Godin). This teacher/techer has something to offer that sets him apart. If he thought his position as tech support was tenuous, being a teacher is not much more secure in today's climate.
Miguel Guhlin said…
@Ric, I haven't read Godin's "Linchpin." What in that book is relevant to this situation?

Miguel Guhlin said…
@EdTechSandyK, that is one approach the RIF'd teacher can take, but it is ultimately unsuccessful. When you are part of a campus team, your principal CAN call on you to share what you know. If you're going to be disagreeable, what's the point of being on that campus team?

By being proactive, helpful, this teacher can keep himself moving forward as a "technology expert" rather than settling into a non-technology role that is represented by the teacher.

That is implied in his perception of the teacher, isn't it? I don't do technology like a district specialist. Maybe that is part of the reason why less effort was made to save the position...or not.

Miguel Guhlin said…
@Alfred, again, it's the power of one to make a difference. If you can, and don't, you set yourself up for greater failure.


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