Post Mortem

El Manual De Los Padres

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Las Manos Auxiliares Que Forman El Mañana

 

 

One of my projects was to create a Spanish Parent Handbook. When I arrived at my job they only had an English version. I arrived at my job in October. By the end of the year I had my first Spanish Parent Handbook completed and ready for distribution. Most of the children had been in school since July. I made sure there were copies in each classroom and where we kept family resources. When we had a new child sign up, the parents also received a handbook in English or Spanish.

The project was a success because I did most of it at home on my own time. I was not happy with the fact that roughly 30% of our families had no idea what the rules and policies were much less where to find resources if they needed them.

Each year the parent handbook is updated. Some years had more updates than others that needed to be translated. I started asking for updates in February. We had one school that was year-round. School let out in June and started back the first week after the 4th of July. I needed to have the handbook done, preferably by May 31. From February to the end of June, I was singing children up for the new school year to begin in July.

Although I did not need help in the translation aspect of the document, I did need the co-operation of the “management staff”. I asked the most important questions . . . When woud they know their information and when could they get it to me? The only thing I asked in return was for a one month deadline. I really needed to have their information ASAP so I could translate it at work and not on my own time. I did not get paid for my time and it took away time from my own family.

Each year was difficult. One person in particular was on the ball and always had her information UTD and color coded for me. It was important that I know what was to be deleted (red) and what was new (blue). This was a big help. The first year she color coded for me was the most difficult year. Folks kept making changes and I had to keep up with two translations plus the new translation I was working on. It was quite maddening close to the end.

It would have been great if we could have agreed on the deadline and stuck to it. Although I had asked for a specific deadline, no one really cared enough or respected the project enough to maintain a deadline. The reason for starting so early in the year was for the folks who dragged their collective rears – the same ones who could not keep to the deadline.

The positive side was that I could work on it little by little and not interfere too much with my day to day duties. The negative side was having to ask for extra time after work to finish because all of a sudden I had to meet their “deadline”.

The most gratifying aspect of the project was that my Hispanic families finally had a handbook to refer to if they had any questions. I received several “gracias” from my families. It helped them to feel more of a part of their child’s school and their education.

 

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10 thoughts on “Post Mortem

  1. robock193 says:

    Katrina,
    Wow! I commend you for your quick three month turn around in producing a functional handbook! While you succeeded in your ultimate goal of providing a Spanish handbook for your audience, the journey was not all that great.

    Dr. Stolovich (2013), along with many of our resources this week, it is always important to get things in writing and sign-off. The fact that you had to allocate your own time to this project was a clear indication that they lacked the respect for your time as well as the projects objectives and goals.

    Reference
    Leaurate Education (2013). Project management concerns: Scope creep. [Video webcast].

    • Hi Robin!
      Thank you! It is a good thing that I LOVE to translate. Otherwise It would have been terrible. The journey itself taught me a lot of things. The first being that not all peope are respectful of others. It saddens me as several of the people I worked with were older than me (47) and yet they forgot “their manners”. I know their mommas must have taught them something.Growing up in the South, I know my momma taught me manners and I use them.

      The second thing was to make sure I had back up copies of my work just in case. Portney, 2008, states that we should “develop templates for frequently performed tasks as well as for entire projects”. The handbook was kind of an ongoing project as there were forms inside that had to be updated when the originals were updated. I made sure to do that as soon as I knew about it so I wouldn’t get too bogged down.

      It was also a toxic work environment. The boss was a bully and I was the target. Many bully bosses are intimidated by their targets. I don’t know why I “intimidated” my boss. I am a non confrontational kind of gal. I do not like going to” the office”.Te boss was an ENTJ and I am an INFJ on the Myers Briggs. I think maybe her E was clasing with my I – I don’t know really. I always felt like I was in trouble. Makes my stomach woozy. I may never find out. One thing I do know, what comes around goes around.

      References
      Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

  2. Hiba says:

    Dear Katrina,
    I can understand your frustration doing the work with no or little help. However, sometimes, just a nice word from others will be enough and similar as getting paid.
    Your experience reminded me of my work on the school year book. I used to do it since three year, but last year, the school’s owner decided to give the work to a company, maybe he didn’t like my design.
    I was OK with his decision and decided to re-enroll in the master program. (I had to stop my study because of the school’s work load) But once the master course started, the owner changed his mind and asked me to do it and I had only one month for this. As you did, I worked days and nights, school time and home time, my husband and even my kids helped me. And it was done! Sadly saying, because I resigned from my work, they did not pay me anything for this work which was not part of my designated job.
    My suggestion to you, in case you will do the handbook again, do not rely on others and wait for their help. Do assign the work that should be completed by others, put a list with tasks and deadline. Let the principal or director sign it, even you can let all names included to sign. Hopefully, you can do the work in a better conditions!

    • Katrina,
      It seems that your administration has not truly bought-in to the fact that a Spanish-version handbook is needed, even though you have put forth great effort to gain their support. I can definitely feel your frustration, as it seems to be a project that is close to your heart. Like you, I can clearly see the importance of the handbook for these families who make up 30% of your school, and I tend to wander how anyone can NOT have total buy-in for this project. However, everyone does not prioritize in the same way, and that is why we must work at getting administrative support on projects like these that are so obviously important to us.
      Good luck in the future. I hope you get some insight from our project management class to help you with this frustration!
      -T. Easley

      • Hi Tiffany!

        Thank you for the kind words. Unfortunately, language barriers and preconceived ideas about certain groups prevent people from getting to understand or attempting to understand a person and /or their culture. Between 1990 and 2000 our county experienced over a 300% growth in the Spanish speaking population. Contrary to belief, not ALL Hispanic person are Mexican. Not all of the person who cross the Mecican border are MEXICAN. There are over 144 different countries that cross our borders illegally every year. There are apporximately 21 Spaish speaking countries. The MAJORITY of those who cross illegally are of some other ethnic descent.

        I no longer am able to help my children and my families as I no longer work there. There were many Title VI violations. They really could have gotten into a lot of trouble. Go to: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/hq43e4.html for more information on Title VI. The ironic thing is, it is not a new law. It was enacted in 1964!

        One day, when I am gainfully employed as an ID, I will use this PM class as a stepping stone and tool base in order to weed out frustration (most) before it can happen.

        Thank you!

        Katrina

    • Hi Hiba!

      Thank you for the lovely reply. The translation part for me was easy (most of the time) unless I ran into a word I was not familiar with and then to my dictionaries I would go. The sad part was that I HAD to have the information to translate or it would not get done. I asked for specific timelines,as you suggested, ran it by the Director, and still did not get the information “on time”. The one lady that understood used to share my office until she moved into another one. She knew what went on in order to translate documents. I did A LOT of translating for her. She ALWAYS had her information ready ahead of time and let me know. We worked well together. I miss her the most. She is a great lady. She helped to keep me sane in that toxic environment. I hope I can repay her kindness one day. I will most definitely take your advice to “not rely on others and wait for their help. Do assign the work that should be completed by others, put a list with tasks and deadline. Let the principal or director sign it, even you can let all names included to sign.” Thank you for the suggestion. I am sorry to hear you put in all that work and did not get paid. Karma has a way of coming back around to those that mess with her. You did a good thing for the kids. You sould be proud of yourself. Without you, they probably would not have had a yearbook.

      Katrina

      Shalom

  3. Linda Bernard says:

    Hi Katrina,

    What a worthwhile project – you are doing something really great for those families. Well done.

    I know that sometimes it can feel like the project you are doing isn’t valued by the management and so they often won’t respect your deadlines and there isn’t much sympathy when you need to ask for overtime to complete it. Fortunately those people aren’t really the reason you are doing the project – and eventually they will see the value (I hope!) and the service you provide for the Spanish community at your school. Until then, focus on your outcome – ensuring that everyone feels included and part of your school family.

    Linda

    • Hi Linda!

      ¡Gracias! Unfortunately, I am no longer at that job. I am very saddened by it but not much I can do about it. It was also a toxic work environment. SO, I am glad, in a way, to be out of there. It is ironic that we are talking about the handbook. I received a message a few weeks ago about the Spanish Parent Handbook. “They” couldn’t find it. I had to tell a certain person where to look. It was saved to Google docs and also onto on of the drives office staff shared. It should not have been a problem. I thought it was kind of funny.

      Katrina

  4. Angee Graham says:

    Katrina,

    For you, was the gracias you received from the families the most rewarding part of completing the project? I must say that I am thoroughly inspired by you. You pick up a project you felt needed to be completed and you did it on your own time, as well as work! The commendable! I am not an educator, but I am a parent! It is the little things like this that make parents appreciate educators as you!

    Your project: In project management, you will come across those pessimistic people who really do not want a project to be completed, so they drag their feet, because they do not want to see your project succeed. As a bit of advice, from the business aspect of it, I would have enlisted everyone’s assistance, by making them sign off on the project, This way, you know who is willing to help and who is not. In the beginning, you will know how much work you will have to put into the project yourself.

    Angee

    • Hi Angee!

      Yes, the resounding “gracias” I received for my parents was most gratifying on that particular project. I saw a need and filled it. I never could wrap my head around the fact that there was not a parent handbook in Spanish or other forms for them to read and sign.(I created the majority of those too.) As a former Head Start parent, I did not know that there were a lot of services available. It was important to me that ALL of my families, English and non-English, have equal access to the same information so I made it happen.

      Thank you for the advice. This issue was kind of ironic becasue I was the Bilingual Family Advocate asking the MANAGEMENT team for their information that they should have been working on. There definitely was no respect, except for that of one fabulous person – she understood my process. Read the English type in Spanish… go back to English type some more in Spanish. Translating documents on the fly was not fun sometimes. Some folks did not respect me or my time for my own work. I finally had to ask everyone to PLEASE give me at least 3-4 days if not a week’s notice, depending on the size of the document, to translate correctly and efficiently. Some folks “got it” while others still did not really care.

      Remind me to tell you about Head Start, 4-H and Christmas sometime.

      Katrina

      P.S. When I lost my job, I felt “lost” without MY children and MY families. They were all MINE from day 1. It was extremely difficult. I wasn’t able to say “adios” to any of them.

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