Thursday, December 4, 2008

Need . . .more . . . ink . . . .

Aside from meetings, I think one of the worst inventions of man is paperwork. Everywhere you go, or anything you do usually requires some sort of documentation or form to fill out, many times, more than one. For instance, I've got 7, yes SEVEN, accounts at the local hospital. Each time in entered and re-entered the hospital, whether as an admitted patient or on an outpatient basis for lab work, I had to go through the entire administration process all over again. This took anywhere from 45 minutes to 45 days, depending on the line in front of you and whether or not the pens were functioning or not. Luckily for me, if there was a silver lining to be found, my wife had to endure most of those since I was undergoing preoperative procedures in the OR.

Last week, as November came to a close, I went to the hospital for one of my last three lab draws. With only two more to go, both coming in December, I was told that my outpatient account was only good from month to month and that I have to . . . . yep, you guessed it . . . . re-register for the month of December!! Being a patient, understanding guy, I wasn't going to take up the issue with the wonderfully pleasant lab secretary to whom I had come to like (becoming chummy with hospital employees over a long period of time is not necessarily a good thing if you are a patient and not a co-worker, but that's another blog.) I knew the administrated red tape and bureaucratic hoop-jumping is out of her control. She was merely informing me of the protocol, a protocol she was no doubt taught during an administrative meeting.

One hour later, I was good to go for another month of lab draws. With all the information easily rolling over in the computer, there were only 5 or 6 . . . . . . dozen papers to sign. I thought I was going to have to get admitted to the E.R. to take care of my acute writer's cramp.

At least with the hospital, with so many agencies, billing practices, insurance companies involved, and liabilities, I can somewhat see how the paperwork could pile up. Not so in another instance. Earlier this summer, my 5-year-old daughter decided to have her ears pierced while we were shopping at a local mall. Trying to encourage her against her painful fears of getting holes in her skin, we were happy to duck into the nearest boutique before her courage waned. We had to do this fast, but that was not going to happen because of all the forms I had to fill out. Who knew that the actually piercing process, including deciding on which piercing posts to use, what color stone to select, carefully marking the ears so that they would turn out symmetrical and getting mom's approval on their position, cleaning the ears, and loading and using the gun would actually take less time than it took for me to fill out all 3 pages of required documentation. I had to give my social security number, driver's license number, my address and phone number, my birthday, and even my favorite color. I had to do everything but submit a DNA sample to prove that I was my daughter's legal guardian (the fact that she was calling me "Dad" and that she's got my nose didn't count for anything.)

Afterwards, there was the credit card processing and signing, along with an instruction booklet outlining "post-piercing" ear care, for which I had to sign an affidavit attesting to the fact that I had received it. WOW! I really don't know to this day why that process was so unnecessarily complicated. I'm guessing everyone out there today that is providing a good or service to anyone else in just practicing the CYA policy. It sure was a different experience, though, from when I put a piece of ice behind my ear in 7th grade and shoved one of my mom's studs through the thick part of my lobe. No paperwork involved, only pain and blood. Later that night I'd have to implement my own CYA policy when my dad discovered what I had done, but that's another blog.

Being a teacher, there's always paperwork. It's part of the job, I guess. Preparing lesson plans, quizzes, tests. Grading homework, quizzes, and tests. This paperwork is necessary to the job and for assessment. There's also the taxing, time-consuming responsibility of writing letters of recommendation for the dozens of students who need a good word from you to get into the college of their choice. Although I don't mind writing these, they all seem to ask at one time, and they always seem to need them by yesterday. But in addition to all the "tolerable" and "necessary" paperwork, there's a lot of useless tedium that falls under the CYA policy that puts increased burdens on all teachers: IEPs. 504s. Learning Objectives. Daily Agendas. Hidden Agendas. Educational Motives. Ulterior Motives. Documenting phone calls and e-mails to parents. Documenting modifications for special students. Documenting interventions for failing students. Documenting interventions for apathetic students. Documenting continuing education hours and professional development hours. Documenting this, that, and everything else. Sometimes it feels like documenting what needs to be done, what will be done, and what has been done supersedes actually doing it.

I guess what I'm really getting at is that I miss having a teaching assistant this year to help me with grading all the papers that seem to reproduce exponentially when left unattended, all these papers that I take for rides home and back to school each day.

Maybe I'll just quit assigning homework and giving quizzes. That should free up enough time for me to fill out the 10-page application needed for my 8-year-old son to get his tatoo.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I'm documenting that I have read this post. Signed L Caradec on 12/05/08 at 1:21pm.

Have a great weekend.