I've worked for the same company off and on for five years. In that time, I've worked in over sixty different schools, probably for a total of well over 300 days.
On Wednesday, I received my first ever bad review.
My representative called me and said she wanted to discuss some feedback I'd received from a school. She named the school, where I had been last Friday, and have been too more times than I could count in the last four years. The school has almost entirely new staff, and they don't know me. This school used to request me every single day. Every.... Day..... But the last two years have been full of turn over and I can count on my hands the times I've been there.
The school informed my company that a teacher had observed me sitting behind the desk much of the day and playing on my phone.
And you know what? I was.
I know better. I do. I even thought to myself that day, "You should be circulating more. You need to put your phone away - you're not hiding it by just putting it behind your purse." The kids were being WONDERFUL, and I was exhausted, so I wasn't working my hardest. THIS IS NOT ME. this is not how I normally perform.
And I got caught. I admitted to what I had done, though I'm sure my defenses had me downplaying it. My representative thanked me for being honest, told me not to let it happen again, and moved on.
I called back a few minutes later on a totally unrelated note, but I apologized again and told her all the steps I would take to ensure I never had another day like that. And she was fine.
But worst case scenarios flooded my mind. "OMG what if she calls the school and they tell her it was way worse than I made it sound?!?!" "I'M GOING TO LOSE MY JOB!!" "These schools all know each other and they're going to spread the word and no one will want me!" "I'm never going to be able to use my network of schools to help me find a job when I graduate!" "My company isn't going to think of me as one of their favorite employees anymore and I'm going to get trash-talked during staff meetings." "They're not going to give me work on Friday just to punish me and I have Christmas presents to buy!"
But the truth is, none of the above is true. The ordeal is over, two short days in, and things are back to normal.... I hope.
You know why?
Because our failures don't define us. They teach us. When my representative called me she was SHOCKED. She told me she assured the school that I was one of their most requested employees and that this was very much out of character. She backed me up in saying I must have been having an off day. AND WE ALL HAVE OFF DAYS. But because I've spent almost five years establishing myself as not just a reliable employee, but a superior one, my representative knew that this was an isolated incident.
I learned from this experience. I learned that being really good at what you do does not exempt you from following rules. It made me reflect up on my time at Summit. When I was there, every day I felt like I was a failure. I felt like I could do nothing right. I wasn't very good at the job, and even when I thought I was doing a great job, I was called out on something I didn't do right. It was miserable.
I am so thankful to have found a field in which I excel. I've had three different social work internships at this point, and I've left all three of them each day feeling like I'd been successful. I'm so thankful for the relationships I've built with almost all of my schools.
I showed up to work at a school today nervous. I felt as though a cloud was hanging over me waiting on me to fail, even though, in over three hundred days I've only had the one complaint, but it was looming.
Today I am working at a school where I have spent many of days over the last two years. I even got their social worker her job after they started asking me when I was graduating and did I know anyone who was available for this year.
I walked into the office this morning, rushed because it was a day-of assignment. I rounded the corner to see the receptionist.
"Hey!!! It's our favorite person from school professionals!! So glad you're here!"
Yeah, I think one failure is okay.