Friday, June 12, 2009

Evaluations: Different Rant Altogether

I forgot to mention this in my list of rant possibilities but I have been annoyed by something and thought maybe it would make me feel better to mention it here.

Before I started doing public speaking I assumed that when I went to a conference that I was sitting listening to people who were getting paid to share their expertise. And I was surprised that there were an alarmingly small number of adoptive parents who were speakers and I thought that parents needed to hear from more parents. So I submitted a proposal and since then have been invited to speak at most conferences to which I have submitted a proposal.

The thing that a lot of people don't know, however, is that nearly all the speakers, with the exception of the keynotes, only receive their conference registration in return. They are not reimbursed for their travel or for their hotel. When Bart and I spoke at NACAC in Long Beach in 2006 we spent about $1500 on that trip -- so that we could have the privilege of presenting to other parents (and of course, the opportunity to attend a most awesome conference for free).

Now, i'm not complaining. Free registration is a good thing, but if you are naive like I was and think that presenters there are being paid, think again. But that is not the part that makes me rant.

The rant part is that I have done a couple of these "free" presentations within the last couple months and one or two people in the audience have chosen to bash me on the evaluations. Now you know human nature. All the rest of the evaluations were great, but all i can think about is the one or two people who had such negative things to say about my presentation.

I realize that I don't have a personality that is immediately loved by some. And I know that my presentations are not overly intellectual and do not include heavy research. They are intended to be practical hands on parenting strategies from the trenches and that is how they were promoted.

So to complete my rant, I am almost sure that the negative feedback came from professionals. Professionals who did not pay to attend the conference. Professionals whose organizations were paying all of their expenses to come to the conference.

And yesterday, when I was super crabby about everything for some reason, I received notification by email that I had some negative evaluations (just 2) at a conference in April. And it just bugged me. I took off time from work to drive four hours one way to stand in front of a group of people who had an all expense paid trip to listen to me. And that part I don't mind. But critical evaluations afterwards are like a knife in the gut when all those things are weighed.

I may not do many more "freebies" in the future. I would like to believe the 90% of the evaluations -- that i am good presenter and that I am helping a lot of parents. But maybe the professionals are right. Maybe I'm not "good enough" to show up and present.

So if I'm going to go on a trip to present to be told I'm not good, shouldn't I at least be paid for it? Except that often when I am paid to come, the evaluations are glowing.

The irony makes me laugh....


Luann DeGroot said...

Whenever we do evalations at work, I always think of this:

"If you are holding out for universal approval, you'll have a long wait." - Dumbledore

Nobody said...

I hear what your saying, and feel your pain. I am exactly the same way, and would concentrate on the one negative out of a hundred. But you are right. This is a field that is DOMINATED by professionals that have never lived a day of their lives with a foster/older adopted child in their home, yet they are set up as the experts who call all the shots. Honestly, I don't think many of them want to live with these children, and an alarming number of them IMHO actually secretly believe we are nuts for choosing to do so. And I've actually had an honest one or two express that sentiment out loud. This field desperately needs the voices of parents in the trenches to speak truth and reason. We don't have strings of letters next to our names to announce our credibility, but we should have something. Maybe numbers to announce how many children we parent, and how old they were when they arrived on our doorstep, and how many years we have survived the process. Maybe we should get decorated like in the military for all the "action" we've seen. Those would be the credentials I would respect, and the seminars I would want to sign up for. So don't give up or become discouraged in this good work you are doing. What you are doing is far too important to give up based on the negative opinions of so few.

Anonymous said...

I dont think you should stop speaking because of a few negative comments. What social worker or other professional could hurt an adoptive parent with an evaluation? Did they not listen to your stories about raising SED kids?!

I speak as a parent too and I have told people who are "icky" to me tht they will have to try harder to hurt my feelings or scare me away. I do live with my kid after all and he taught me not to listen!