Having worked in public schools as a teacher, counselor and principal most of my adult life, I am aware of all the rules that are imposed on students, teachers, administrators and parents.
Some of them include things like:
*Students can't wear shorts that rise up so high that attention in the classroom might be drawn to someone's undercarriage rather than the topic at hand (okay, the rule might not have been stated quite like that, but you get my drift---no pun intended)
*Administrators must have their budgets for the following year turned in by April 5, despite the fact that we know the state is going to do something different in May which will affect the budget (but we have to do this exercise in futility, anyway, including telling teachers they won't be re-hired next year, even though we will likely get more money, in which case we will re-hire them then). Does any of this sound insane, yet?
*Teachers are not allowed to wear flip-flops to school. "What is the difference between a flip-flop and a sandal?" you might ask. Yep, you institute a rule like that and for the next few days, all the administrator is doing is fielding questions from every teacher in the school district. They want to show you their shoes and ask, "Are these flip-flops or sandals?" I don't know!!!! I know I have to turn in my budget by April 5th, though.
*Parents are not allowed to check their students out from a field trip to take them home versus the child riding back to school on the bus (even if the parent chaperoned the field trip, and the bus is going to drive right by the family home).
Do these sound like nutty rules? Well, apparently, there are exceptions to all of these rules, depending on who you ask (and maybe how their day is going so far; or maybe it depends on if their feet are comfortable in the flip-flops...errr...I mean sandals they are wearing). :)
I teach at two different universities, both online and face-to-face courses. I have found out that there are two types of students: one type acknowledges the assignment dates (and sometimes lets you know when they have completed the assignment three days early in case you want to grade it early----hush---yes, that would have been me) and the other type who, within two days of the class starting, asks if they can turn in the first assignment a day or two late because either:
a. they couldn't find their computer
b. their internet access isn't working
c. they can't do the "interview" they've been assigned because there is no one in their school district to interview
Which of the above do you think are real excuses for which an instructor should make an exception? Does your answer change whether it is an undergraduate course, a Master's level course, or a doctoral level course or does one size fit all?
I experience exceptions and non-exceptions in traveling for work. For example, the airline has an on-time departure rate, and doesn't want to mess it up, so they close the boarding gate door at precisely 9:02, when eight of us from another flight come running (and sweating; don't forget sweating) up to try to board the flight. "I'm sorry, we can't allow you to board. As you can see, the boarding door is closed." But you KNEW there were eight of us coming from the previous flight! "Sorry!" The next week, we are all boarded, ready to take off, but oh no! The flight attendant announces we will be waiting another 15 minutes as there are four passengers coming from another flight. Wait, what?? You didn't wait for me last week, but you're going to wait for half the number of passengers this time?? (Okay, maybe you can tell this one is one about which I am a bit tender).
However, I experienced a pretty cool exception this week. In two weeks, I will be leaving for Nairobi to participate in my first Habitat for Humanity build to build a classroom in a small village nearby. I have been collecting items for my trip: work gloves (stop laughing! Dave has already said he wants to see a picture of me swinging a hammer more than he wants to see a picture of me on a safari watching animals in the wild----big eye roll from Dave's lovely wife), anti-malaria pills (after all, it has been raining quite a bit in Kenya, so the mosquitoes are likely to be bad----why couldn't the mosquitoes make an exception for where to live for the next few weeks??), etc. I also have been collecting school supplies, books and classroom materials. I ordered a bunch of books from Amazon.com but I also ordered a whole lot of school supplies from Office Depot/Office Max. While I was trying to place my order (don't even ask me how I am going to get all these supplies into my two big suitcases), I asked if they had a policy to help with humanitarian purposes, and the gentleman with whom I was speaking asked said, "No, but we can always make an exception!" I started doing a victory dance around the kitchen (quite literally, I'm afraid to tell you---so glad there was no video). With the extremely generous credit they issued me, I was able to buy more supplies to take with me (what I really need is another suitcase, frankly).
Exceptions are everywhere; it's just a matter of what the motive is for the exception as to whether it might be granted or not. I am currently on the phone with my beloved airline and the agent is making an exception to my reservation coming back from Africa , allowing me to get home sooner with less of a layover in Frankfurt, Germany.
Just for today, consider the exceptions you make or have made for you in your life.
What are the rules you simply find non-negotiable in your life and which are the ones for which you can make exceptions?
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