Monday, August 9, 2010

Back to the Salt Mines

That's one phrase I'm going to try to eliminate from my thinking about teaching this year. And any other similar phrases. As this Profhacker post reminds me, the words we use affect our attitudes:
Each time you say something like “back to the salt mines” (which is usually accompanied by a shrug, or slumped shoulders) you reinforce your own attitudes about your workplace as being somehow like a dangerous mine where prisoners labor.  Sure, maybe you didn’t mean it, or not at a conscious level.  But if you think or say “salt mines,” “salt mines,” “salt mines,” several times a day, you’re probably not going to be feeling lively, energized, or creative.
Attitude makes a difference. I should know better than to adopt a negative attitude toward the work I'm doing (yes, this is another thing I've learned from yoga). Teaching is often hard work, but so is much of life. So, the next time I talk about the misery of grading, or being buried under course reports, I will try to be more conscious about my attitude: the grading is there to serve my students' learning, not to torture me. Interims and course reports serve the same purpose; in fact, they liberate me from the tyranny of letter grades. So I should be grateful, or at the very least, accepting, of the parts of teaching that aren't necessarily fun. And then I should keep trying to find ways to be more efficient and effective at those things, so I can spend more time on the fun stuff.

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