Yesterday we had an all-faculty meeting, as is the tradition once a month at our private SLAC. These generally end up being hour-long sessions where various Admins get up to make announcements and simultaneously show off their assistants' PowerPoint skills. Most faculty show up and look somewhat attentive. Given that I had an extra load of grading (which is also what has kept me away from this blog), I brought my laptop to the meeting, and, along with about twelve others (out of a group of 150), worked silently throughout the meeting.
Halfway through the meeting, one of the Administrators addressed a friend of mine whose iPad was open in front of her, and asked her to do a basic online search on something pertinent to the discussion. Said person complied, but then, after providing the info, hurriedly collected all belongings and left the meeting.
An hour later, I received a text from this friend requesting that I meet her for coffee to discuss "the. most. humiliating. experience. ever." I did not equate the experience with humiliation, but apparently, said colleague felt she had been humiliated in front of the whole faculty by being singled out in such a manner.
I tried to assure her that no one would have assumed she was being humiliated in front of everyone and that even the Admin requesting the info was not doing so to single her out. She is insistent that it was the most humiliating experience of her life and that she can never return to another faculty meeting.
So am I just missing something huge here? I feel like a bad friend for not supporting her and bolstering her by saying, "You're right; it was embarrassing." But to me, there was nothing embarrassing about it and I feel that if I claimed there were, it would simply encourage her hysterics. I wouldn't have felt humiliated if the Admin had asked me to look something up on my laptop (which was more visible than her iPad).
I've had embarrassing moments in teaching: usually involving tripping and falling, or sneezing and passing gas in front of students, but I just didn't see that her experience was humiliating.
What do the rest of you think? And if you feel like sharing humiliating experiences to help her situate her experience on the "spectrum of humiliation," that might help, too.
Apparently this little princess has not had the joy of sitting in a meeting with a Program Chair and a student and have the Program Chair undermine her at every turn while the student smirks. When this happens ask her if the IPad comment is still her most embarrassing experience ever. She needs to toughen up, what is she going to so when someone gives her actual feedback?ReplyDelete
I've had this dubious delight, too. It sucks so bad it makes a slurping sound!Delete
P.S. The Chair in question subsequently stepped down. When I became Chair, I gave this former Chair the class from hell. Over the inevitable protests, I told this former Chair with all sincerity, "I really do think you're the best suited to teach this class of all our faculty." Schadenfreude isn't nice, but it is delicious!Delete
This former Chair is now about to retire. I will not do anything snarky, aside from wishing them "a well-deserved retirement."
I am with you, CC. This was simply not humiliating. I would encourage her to reframe the whole experience. As FML has pointed out, there are much more humiliating experiences she may have to endure as an academic, and she needs to develop a thicker skin for sure.....ReplyDelete
I'm still trying to absorb the fact that there are places where admins hold all-faculty meetings once a month (!!!!) and--people show up! Do they have door prizes? Free meals or drinks?ReplyDelete
I'm trying to think of an embarrassing experience...early in my career (at one-percenter-U out west) I was teaching freshman calculus, and suddenly thought of a good question to ask the class: "I wonder if any of you guys can answer this". Except that in the heat of the moment (large class, beginner, who knows) instead of "you guys" I slipped and said "the guys". Very, very bad, and punished immediately: dead silence broken by female voice from the back row: "one of the guys?
And there is a paradox here: I can imagine the admin did try to embarrass your colleague by drawing everyone's attention to her surfing the web during the meeting; but she is the one who made it possible, by overreacting. Had she calmly looked up the info, and then openly gone back to reading whatever had her attention, it might have been slightly embarrassing to the admin.Delete
Maybe she was watching porn at the time? Only way I can think of this being super humiliating.ReplyDelete
That's kind if what I thought...she was embarrassed becasue she THOUGHT she was busted. Who knew you could browse off 50 Shades so fast?Delete
I, too, was wondering about whether a guilty conscience might play a role in her reaction. Maybe she was on this site?Delete
I wish our faculty meetings were only 1 hour.ReplyDelete
Also, that doesn't sound too bad. Try being publicly singled out as an example of what not to do at a faculty meeting.
They're scheduled for an hour, but they usually last an hour and a half... and since they're every freaking month, everyone's doing something else during the meeting. But they're mandatory, so we show up and misbehave.Delete
That sounds rather weird. I am guessing a deeper connection with admin (crush-affair-etc).ReplyDelete
So odd. Has nothing "humiliating" happened to her so far in her life? She's in for some [i]Character Development[/i].ReplyDelete
Wow. Very odd. If this ihermes most humiliating experience, what a special life she has led. Poor kid.ReplyDelete
*is her most.Delete
Stupid tea partying smart phone.
whoa, glad to see that was an error...i was having a very difficult edith hamilton moment and I just couldn't get ihermes except as a new Apple igod app.Delete
She was only as humiliated as she allowed herself to be. As Bella said, push for a reframing of the incident. Talk her down from the ledge, even (especially) if it's only an imaginary one.ReplyDelete
At a faculty meeting earlier this year, things were winding down, the agenda had been covered and the matter at hand was answering a dumb question for the third time for a colleague who was having trouble understanding a fairly simple procedural matter. I opened my laptop and began doing some busywork on the LMS. The admin running the meeting stopped what he was doing, walked over to my chair and ordered me to close my computer. Mind you, several other faculty members and EVERY administrator in the room were on their computers or smartphones as well. They were not reprimanded. I was not "humiliated," I was furious. I actually left the room and went for a short walk to calm down.ReplyDelete
The same admins that want more and shinier technology in the classroom don't like it when we're distracted by technology in meetings. And they never make the logical connection.
Your friend is clever. Although she sacrifices some respect by acting this irrational way, she now has an excuse to never attend those monthly faculty meetings. Nobody would make her go because she feels so strongly that she was wronged. Who's going to argue with the crazy person? Sure, you'll talk about how odd she is behaving as you walk with colleagues to the auditorium but you'll be there and she'll be in her office or leaving early for the day. I'm humiliated that I didn't think of this idea first.ReplyDelete
Yes, I continue to be amazed that people voluntarily go to faculty meetings. I stopped going to ours a while back; I can't stand my department chair, and nothing of consequence is ever discussed. (Even for tenure/promotion, I can read the file myself, make up my own mind and vote absentee.) I'm not alone, I understand they're sparsely attended.Delete
Do we need a "why go to these things" thread? It seems that practice varies widely. Should I feel bad about my indifference?
Oh, god, ours are mandatory. I used to tell people that the great thing about private high school teaching was that you didn't have to deal with very much administrative b.s., but over the past few years that has changed dramatically here at Fancy Pants Collegiate School.Delete
We now have a vast and ever-growing administrative class, and those admins are increasingly unaware of anything but their own career goals. They exist in an echo chamber of admin-generated ideas that have nothing to do with the day-to-day work of the school itself.
If I lived in a country in which healthcare was not tied to employment, I would happily work only as an online adjunct. The pay cut would be worth it just to avoid having to listen to administrators.
Good point, BB. I need to be humiliated on her behalf and never attend another meeting to support her.Delete
Maybe the admin just asked her because he saw she had her iPad there and so could look it up quickly. I had a student complain on the class eval that I "picked on her" by asking her questions in class because she was late for class once/. Actually I asked her questions because I knew she'd usually give a good answer and I wanted to keep her engaged in class.ReplyDelete
That's exactly what appeared to happen: that the admin was simply asking a convenient person to look something up. It wasn't like there was any negative tone or even passive-aggressive-like feeling to it. But yeah, people interpret being singled out differently from how I would interpret it.Delete
Try being at a national conference in your field, listening to the speeches after the main conference dinner, where out of the blue, the head of the conference committee takes a couple of paragraphs in the midst of the thank-you-to-everyone speech to deliver a personal attack at you.ReplyDelete
C, can you tell us the story without outing yourself? That sounds cray cray, as the kids say!Delete
I don't see why this colleague of yours sees what happened to her as humiliation, unless she's a)got a persecution complex or b)just looking for an excuse to never have to attend another meeting. Or maybe it's both.ReplyDelete
I have colleagues who live-Tweet and post on FB during meetings. When I sit at the back of the room, I can see who's doing what. It's very illuminating. Then I turn on my iPad and catch up on the Misery.
Were I she, I might have said, "I'm sorry I'm right in the middle of something here".ReplyDelete
Were I she, I might have said, "I'm sorry I'm right in the middle of something here".ReplyDelete