We have a new departmental member, and he's having difficulty adjusting to FGS and his job. There are many issues, but I think the bottom line is that he just has very little experience as an English teacher and doesn't really want to do it. So he shouldn't have been hired, in my opinion, but that's water under the bridge. (He has experience in this one thing FGS wanted, but it's a tiny part of his job, so I think this is a case of the tail having wagged the dog.)
Fortunately, none of this is my problem! It's not my crazy monkey parade! So I've been trying to stay out of it. That's been a little difficult when former students have come by to express their distress at how their class with the new guy is going this year; I listen only long enough to be able to reframe the situation and send them out with what I hope is a more positive attitude. After I fielded enough student complaints, I felt that I had to say something to the department head. And it turns out that she knows about the problems and is trying to work with the new guy on them, as are higher-ups. Apparently one of the problems is that he asks for help but then doesn't take it and is even kind of dismissive of it. Bummer, but not my problem!
But he's mostly a nice enough guy, and I try to be a good colleague. I've shared teaching materials with him, met with him before school started, have talked teaching strategies -- the sorts of things that would have been helpful to me in my first year at FGS but weren't offered to me, and I didn't know to ask for them. Yesterday, he asked me if I could sit down with him and go over some student papers to talk about how to grade them and what comments I'd write on them. Totally reasonable request, and I was happy to comply, even though I then spent an hour and a half with him that I was planning on using to grade.
But here's what burned me up: At the end of our conversation, he made a comment that he's made more than once to me: "Yes, but you're really the iconoclast of the department, so other people don't do what you do." He's decided I'm the "iconoclast" because I opted out of teaching one book that the other freshman teachers use -- no big deal. But yesterday I finally realized that his repeated "iconoclast" comment is his way of saying, "Thanks for all that advice, but I'm not going to take it." In other words, he's doing to me -- asking for help but not taking it -- what he's been doing with the department chair.
Grrr. I was super grumpy last night. I had real work to do during that hour and a half, and I was annoyed at my colleague for wasting that time if he was just going to dismiss what I said. Also, he keeps complaining about how much work he has, and he also spent all that time not doing any real work either.
But mostly, I was annoyed at myself for not having clear boundaries. I should have said, "Sure, New Colleague, I've got about 20 minutes that I'd be happy to spend talking with you about grading." And then I should have followed that self-imposed time limit and still had an hour left to do my grading instead of having my alarm go off at 5:00 this morning because I was too annoyed last night to grade.
So the lesson to me: Don't get so caught up in feeling like a "good person" that you waste your own time. Be willing to help others only to the extent that you're not hurting your own work and thus your own students, thus undermining the whole project of trying to be a good person in the first place. Also, don't be so willing to sacrifice your own time to other people.
So the "harumph" is really more about me than New Colleague. Your time is as valuable as anyone else's, WN!