The Truth About Flex
by Roger Bowerman
The spring semester is well underway, you are feverishly working to serve student needs, and you feel you have a handle on the situation. You may be grading mid-terms, counseling students about course requirements, helping find materials for an upcoming research paper, or staffing a window answering questions about the upcoming summer session.
Then you get the email. It comes every year, but it is still a surprise. “From the Office of Staff Development; it is time to submit your Flex packet.” You scramble to get your materials together, searching for those verification forms you KNOW are somewhere in your desk. You begin counting hours while filling out your forms and contacting your supervisor to get verification of activities. You secretly resent the demand on your time. You have better things to do.
You need to understand that the Flex time you are being asked to verify is time you have received salary. The need for ongoing training to improve your skills is an essential part of your life here at Glendale Community College. Professional Development – coordinated through the Staff Development office – provides the means for you to stay current in your field, aware of the world we live in, and generate interest in new ideas that can keep you engaged and effective. The unfortunate part, however, is that you are required to report and verify these Professional Development activities. Few of us resent the activities themselves; it is the time required to complete the materials that we resent.
STEPS TO MAKE THE PROCESS EASIER
But with a little planning and understanding, you can avoid the scenario described above.
The first step in streamlining the process is keeping your materials in order. It seems obvious, and some of you already do this. But for many the rush of daily work gets in the way of keeping our information organized. All you need is a file folder labeled “flex obligation,” to place your materials. If you have any questions about what qualifies for Flex, the Flex Manual is available online (faculty and staff – Staff Development – Staff Development Forms).
Organize your submission. One of the biggest problems facing the Flex committee members is aligning the activities listed on the form with the accompanying verification. This can lead to delays with verification, potential misunderstandings on the part of the reviewer, and spending more of your time answering those questions and even resubmitting materials for the Flex committee. The easy solution: simply present your verification in the same order as the activities are listed on the Flex form.
There is another reason to organize your submissions. The Flex submission form cannot be saved, so you should have all of your materials organized before your start. It is very frustrating to begin filling out the verification form and find that you need to locate materials – and end up losing all of the information because some other task interferes with completing the form.
Over-submission is yet another easily avoided problem. If you owe 30 hours of Flex (the requirement for a full time employee), you do not need to supply 80 hours of Flex verification. It is not only a waste of your time, but of the Flex committee as well. You may want to report a few more hours that required in case the Flex committee rejects some of your claims, but excessive over verification is simply unnecessary.
You can also complete your Flex forms before the call comes out from the Staff Development Office. If you know you will need to verify 30 hours, and you have it completed in fall, why not submit your Flex form during the Winter break? You have more free time, it will not interfere with your regular spring workload, and the Flex committee will thank you since it allows them to spread their workload out through the Semester. The Form is available all year round on the Staff Development Website. Why not take a look right now, see what you need for this year, and begin organizing right away? Beat the rush; submit early.
These are but a few suggestions that can make the Flex process less painful for everyone involved. If there are any questions, please contact me, Roger Bowerman, in the Staff Development Office (extension 5135). I look forward to helping you make the process as painless as possible.
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