I Respectfully Disagree With Your Decision to Deny My Travel Request
The very first conference I ever attended after starting work in Maricopa was the TYCA West conference. 1999 “Climates of Inquiry: Classrooms, Curriculum, Theory, and Assessment.” Park City, Utah; October 14-16. My division chair at the time suggested I go, and practically signed me up for it. I was grateful. I was hooked. Not just with this conference, but going to conferences in general and learning from others who do exactly what I do everyday. It’s refreshing. TYCA-West is a unique conference, and I’ve tried to go as often as possible over the years. It’s a small intimate conference, often garnering less than 50 participants. But it’s always rewarding, and even when I can’t go I try to help out in any way I can. Last year I did a redesign on the website for them and have helped them maintain it with backups and upgrades. It’s just what we do to help support things we believe in.
Well, last week I filled out my travel request forms and submitted all the required documents to the proper people for signatures to attend this year’s TYCA West conference in Salt Lake City. I submitted a proposal to present on hybrid course design and was looking forward to yet another awesome conference. But my excitement was put on hold when my travel request was denied. Yep, denied. Rejected. Fail! There is never enough space to write much of a justification on the form, so I didn’t think much of it and typed out a much longer justification and emailed it to my dean’s secretary addressing his concerns. Much to my surprise, it was denied again. The request to add additional wording on how my students will benefit from my travel was addressed in my eyes, but for some reason he didn’t like it. No explanation was given. So on my third attempt, I went back to what I know best. Take the required questions, dissect them and answer each part piece by piece. REJECTED for the third time. Apparently the dean or Vice President of Academic Affairs has his own ideas about what we should write for a justification for our professional growth now. I thought it was my professional growth.
It’s not clear who is denying my request as each secretary has blamed it on the other “boss.” I didn’t even get the courtesy of an email directly from the person rejecting my request. I’ve been going back and forth with the secretary. By the time the he said she said trickles down to me something is lost in translation. I have no idea what they are looking for. It’s obviously not MY professional growth activity any more. It will be what they want it to be or I don’t get to go. Doesn’t sound fair to me, and after 13 years of submitting travel requests in the district, this is the first time where my justification for wanting to attend a conference wasn’t good enough.
Here’s what bugs me the most. On our professional growth website, it states as the guidelines for use of FPG travels funds:
FPG travel funding is monetary support of any event for the purpose of professional growth that will increase knowledge, skills, or attitudes enhancing one’s role at the college.
It doesn’t say anything about “student benefit.” Why? Because that’s obvious. As I wrote in my justification, “Student learning and achievement increase when educators engage in effective professional development focused on the skills educators need in order to address students’ major learning challenges.” What those skills will be is unknown until you attend the conference and how that will directly effect your students is mere speculation. Why bother? The focus should be on my opportunity to “increase knowledge, skills or attitudes” to enhance my overall role at GCC; not just my role as a teacher. But by becoming a better teacher, obviously I become the benefit to my students. Me. I’m the benefit. They benefit from me and my increased knowledge, my increased skills and my postive attitude I will have because my administration doesn’t stand in the way of MY professional development.
To read my attempts at justification for my travel request, click here: Travel Request Justifications Denied