Monday, 24 May 2010

Reminder why SCHOOLS could be a particularly bad place for those with AS to work

This ranks as one particularly sad story, a teacher in Mansfield was sentenced to a community order having pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm without intent on a boy, but being cleared of attempting to kill him. The incident had been a variation on the "happy slapping" theme (attacking people and filming it on mobile phones) so often in the news, hence this related article on the case prompting a mobile crackdown call, I haven't heard any more on that since though.

My point to posting this in my AS job issues blog is that I had long had reservations about working in schools, which were brought to the fore when the guy doing Flexible Routeways had seen a data entry job at one school in my town and suggested I applied. When I started this blog I had stated that I had worked "in a public sector organisation" as it was still very shortly after I'd first left, it's now long enough since I'd left that I might as well say it was the local further education college with mainly 16-18s. I often got a few snide comments from passing teenagers and I guess this largely boils down to my nervous body language, if I was getting that from 16-18s, then no doubt it would be even worse with 13-16s, and I expressed that reservation to the guy at the time. He accepted my comments though I couldn't help wondering if he still saw me as "making excuses" or secretly wanting to ask me if I was "man or mouse" in being unable to show authority.

This incident hitting the headlines seemed vindicate me in justifying my relucatance about schools as a place to work. One point that really struck out in one of the articles was that "He was signed off sick (with depression and stress) for nearly five months and given counselling sessions by a therapist who told him he was too 'peaceful and passive' and needed to be better at letting his anger out." He had seemed to feel better and returned to work but shortly afterwards this incident happened. I know I'm similarly at the passive end of the "aggressive - assertive - passive" thing that is often referred to at coaching sessions, and people find it too easy to preach at me to learn assertiveness, as if I haven't tried to be more so but to no avail.

This is an extreme of a truly tragic case but you often hear about pupil-on-staff assaults and worse still that staff sometimes get blamed until proven otherwise. Pupils with a grudge could even set staff up by alleging "improper relationships" etc, which would get the staff done for abuse of a position of trust. Even come such time as the member of staff is cleared the stigma that they were at any point accused remains and their careers are already damaged. I'm conscious that I find it difficult enough to get jobs as it is, were I to get a job with a school, but then an incident were to occur, it could become even more difficult than ever before to persuade anyone else to take me on. The incident could have happened to admin staff just as easily as teachers, I see generic references to "pupil on staff" assaults! Worse still that the member of staff is often suspended on "disciplinary" pending investigation of whether they were in any way at fault themselves, if I pushed an attacking pupil away in self defence that push could be seen as an assault itself.

Friday, 21 May 2010

"Group Interview" at well known fast food chain

Link here from someone posting about having a group interview at the best known fast food chain. It is common for some people to say "anyone on benefits should go for jobs at this chain".

I was told when I did that "Flexible Routeways" many group interviews use the dreadful role plays about the plane crash or nuclear bunker scenarios, that was why we'd been given the exercises, doubt I'd get the jobs with that type of group interview.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

"Goals" coaching course - day one

Started with a round of introductions of all five of us in the room, plus the speaker and another member of staff sitting in "participant" situ as she hadn't seen the course before. We each had to give our names, how long we had been in contact with the provider, what we had done as work before our current situations, our job goals, how long it would be before we were "work ready." Well in my case I explained that I was work ready, apart from needing a position where I wouldn't have to have contact with customers and suppliers, when so many employers wanted me to have this and would choose someone else instead of me.

There was then discussion of how "success" is portrayed in the media. Two sides of the coin discussed, most of us saying typical celebrities were "overrated" but one participant was more positive about them saying she thought they had "set their goals, communicated and achieved them well." I still err on thinking they are overrated but can see what she means, looking at how many of them (especially professional footballers) get in the news for the wrong reasons, are those really their goals?

We were then asked to say what success was to each of us personally in terms of our own job goals, I said a job making good use of my skills but in the background, putting that above money, for which I said enough to be comfortable but where I would have a work-life balance and not work excessive overtime to earn loads of bonusses, my life outside work is important to me.

There was then the discussion of self esteem with the initials IALAC
Loveable (/Likeable)
does the person feel "loveable / likeable" from their relationships with family and friends going well, and "capable" in doing day to day activities? I often feel vulnerable in this respect. From the book "Self esteem is the belief that you can handle whatever life dishes up", well listening to this is all very well but I don't always feel able to handle whatever life dishes up. There was a page to write about the things that raise and lower self esteem, mine's raised by an achievement of a task, enjoyment of time with friends or a specific activity, and praise and thanks. It is particularly lowered by criticism, people around me in a bad mood, disruption of routine and excessive pressure and expectation.

There was then a "personal success sheet" with the suggestion to divide our lives into thirds or similar and write 3 achievements.
First third 0-18
(1) Passed O and A level exams
(2) Rode bike
(3) Learned simple computing with my 1980s Spectrum
Second third 18-28
(1) Leaving home for university
(2) Relocations for jobs in the IT field
(3) Establishing a new social life with a particular local club in a national network
Final third 28-38
(1) Bought house
(2) Establishing social life at the dance nights for a favourite soul music genre
(3) Studied accounting courses and temporary jobs in this field
There was also the suggestion to start a "victory log", this blog is of course an ideal place for that, this is one suggestion I really do like, to write down particular successes in this journal when they happen.

What I wasn't so keen on was the "mirror exercise" a few pages further on. "Look into your eyes in the mirror for two minutes and pat yourself on the back": I'm sceptical as no amount of doing this would, for instance, would have made the contact with suppliers in the job in January 08 any better, or improved the flow of opportunities while I was unemployed. This is the whole "coaching" thing, and I'm still sceptical!

Monday, 17 May 2010

"Goals" - a coaching course this week

Still so far so good with the job.

I'm out of it for Wednesday and Thursday this week though for "Goals". In my first week I was given the leaflet headlined "Do You Know What You're Looking For - Read This Leaflet and You Could Change Your Life". Clearly it is a course of "coaching", after Flexible Routeways and its role play exercises I'm always sceptical of "coaching". In this leaflet it says "most training programmes focus on skills, not attitude, which is almost always the thing that stops people from achieving their full potential," so I'm going to be "coached" to have a more positive attitude, "to gain more confidence", "to overcome barriers, setbacks, fears and anxieties".

The woman from the service provider thinks I'll enjoy this and I hadn't the heart to say I'm sceptical, but I am. Clearly in the employment I had in January 08 I had trouble with working with suppliers, and when applying to jobs after that I explained in my honesty that I wasn't well suited to contact with suppliers. This seems to me that I'll be "coached" (preached at in other words) "Tell yourself you can overcome that", but was I not already trying to do just that by persisting with the employment in question? I did not protest about being asked to take those calls until matters came to a head with the aggressive, confontational general manager of the company, precisely because I was trying to have a positive attitude and "tell myself I can" do it, but clearly I reached a breaking point.

No amount of courses like this would change this, for me to have success in a job on the open market the contact with suppliers still has to be removed from my role, that is the employer's duty to make reasonable adjustments to a disabled employee's role.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Work for Your Benefit: Work Placement or Job?

"Work for Your Benefit: Work Placement or Job?" an interesting article on "" - of particular interest is the comment by Kyron, 12/5/10 5:33, "it is very likely that a high proportion of those forced on to workfare will be disabled and other disadvantaged people, who will be more likely than non-disabled people to reach the end of the flexible New Deal without having obtained a job." My own experience showed how long I could go on actively applying to the open job market yet not be anyone's first choice of person for such a long time.