Other Duties as Assigned

Everyone knows this catch-all phrase on most job descriptions.  It’s meant to capture all the little things that one does as part of the job that may not be captured by the specific duties listed.  I generally view many of these other duties as things that make you a part of the community.  At my current job, they involve things like chaperoning dances, advising and participating in evening events.  Participating in these things often brings you closer to your co-workers and your students, even if they sometimes feel onerous.  The first time I was asked to chaperone–on an overnight trip–my response was, “Of course.  This is what I signed up for.”  And it is.

One of my biggest disappointments in my previous job was how little I felt like I was part of the community.  I wanted to have a “we’re all in this together” kind of feeling, but never did.  I partly blame the faculty-staff divide, which kept faculty from considering us staff to be part of the same enterprise as they were.  But there wasn’t even a community feeling within our own department.  There was a lot of division there.  I have no idea what to chalk that up to, but it did not feel good.

The kinds of things that fall into these duties have been myriad and I suspect there will be more to come.  Here’s just a taste:

  • Cleaning up vomit at a dance
  • Holding various pieces of clothing, some of them intimate
  • Driving students on field trips
  • Dealing with snakes on field trips
  • Telling, for the third time, the story of Haley Zega, in an attempt to convince people not to wander off
  • Letting my students see me in my frog pajamas (their response: you’re still a kid, aren’t you?)
  • Giving up my own feminine hygiene products to students (hurray for all-girls’ schools)
  • Driving students to our brother school to enact a prom-posal.
  • Participating in the school play
  • Bringing doughnuts for the school play
  • Giving away books to students because I think they’ll like them
  • Buying food for after-school clubs and parties (food is a constant)
  • Making a fool of myself in various ways: dancing, cheering, being goofy

And that’s just things I’ve done for students.  There are similar things for faculty, most recently bringing tools to help with set design for the school play.  And there are plenty of bonding moments I’ve had with students over the years.  I love that there are students who can say to me, “Remember the time . . .” and begin a funny story from class or a field trip or other school event.  When I tell my non-teacher friends about the kinds of things I’m called on or volunteer to do, they think I’m crazy, but those are the things that I often appreciate the most because they make me feel like we’re all in it together.