Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Where Does the Confidence Come From? Where Do I Get It?" The Rascal from Reading.

I would like to be an insider here at College Misery. I would love to have a following. I'd love to have a jaunty inside conversation about the things in our worlds that bind us.

But I read the page regularly and I lack what I see in everyone: confidence.

Even at your worst, your words and stories are full of confidence. You know what to do, or you know what to ask to get it.

I don't. I'm sure I'm the only one in the profession who is confused by everything. I have problems that I don't understand, and I have no idea what question would lead to the answer anyway.

You smack down students - who deserve it. You have plans, strategies. You have seen it all before and you have a way to turn it around. You catch them when they cheat! You figure out what's Wikipedia and what's not.

I don't have any idea about anything. You juggle the balls of an academic career as easy as falling off a log. I toss one ball in the air and it smacks me on the head and knocks me out.

The next time I see a ball coming, I'm just going to duck.

Duck, get it? I mean, I like the duck. I get the duck. The rest, I'm just Hiram-med by it all.

18 comments:

  1. Oooh man, that last line earned you lots of blog cred!

    But really, that confidence you talk about is a lot of the times just bluster. Hell, I'm scared half the time about my career. Maybe I'd say I try out my more confident self here before I walk it onto campus.

    And, Rascal, all that stuff you're feeling is NORMAL. Everyone in this damn profession goes through it. I think it's probably akin to doing ANYTHING the first time. There's an adjustment time. You'll start figuring things out. You'll learn the questions to ask.

    I wouldn't say it if I hadn't seen it a hundred times.

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  3. Have you heard of fake it like you make it? That's the answer for you right now. All of us who have been where you were just had to fake it for a while until we understood. You're normal, dude. Hang in there

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  4. Oh! Mel stole the line I was going to steal! Yes, Rascal, you just have to fake it.

    Fake it every damn day, for maybe a few years. And to a point, maybe forever. We are all faking it, at least some days.

    I remember my first semester teaching. I was REALLY scared to go into the classroom. I was part time, and perhaps this explains why it took me such a long time into the semester, but until about.....oh....Thanksgiving maybe? Until then, I'd actually feel physically sick, sometimes get sick, just before class. A very kind full timer sat and listened to me ask thousands of questions. I felt unsure about EVERY DAMN THING.

    You will eventually feel more secure, at least more like you don't care as much about what you don't know. I remember what an epiphany it was, to realize the obvious fact that I could tell students in a classroom I did not know something....that I'd have to research it and get back to them. (Yes, I am old, and we could not just "google" it right then and there.) I know you are speaking of more than just this kind of worry, but it applies to everything.

    You know plenty. That's one of the reasons why you are where you are. And there's oodles of helpful, important stuff you will be learning every day, for the rest of your life. And that is okay. In fact, it's great. It's life.

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    1. Really really smart stuff, Bella!

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    2. Excellent advice above. I was thinking "whistle a happy turn" (from The King and I), but, regardless of the catchphrase used to encapsulate the advice, the idea is the same.

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    3. er, that should be "Whistle a Happy Tune."

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  5. The Others Rock!!!

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  6. My first dean told me it takes about nine years for a new Proffie to grow into hir job. I think he was right.

    And you know what? There's something really charming in your admitted feelings of klutziness. I sense an enthusiasm, and that is a huge factor in attaining confidence.

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  7. It also might help to read up on the Dunning-Kruger effect (to which Nicole and Maggie called attention last week). Basically, knowing that you don't know a lot (especially, I'd say, knowing that you don't even know what questions to ask) is a sign of emerging competence (or at least being further on the road to competence than if you thought you knew what you were doing).

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  8. Another post today is key. Fake it till you make it. Those folks with confidence usually are doing that already. It's not the Algonquin table, you know, that department of yours. You belong there. Don't sweat the small stuff. And academics, man, it's all small.

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  9. A mentor can help. Even if your colleagues can't answer your questions, you'll know that they are just as clueless as you. That can be comforting.

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    1. Yep, mentor is a great suggestion. I developed my own a few years ago in a slightly new position. It's asking for help and some folks don't like that, but it got me over a ton of hurdles. My mentor was begrudging but very kind. He took me out to "seminars" with some other old timers, just scotch and cigars in an old bar downtown. It instantly made me feel at home.

      We have to wonder, based on some of the posts today if us veterans are doing enough for new folks!!!

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  10. I think you may be seeing a lot more confidence than there is. We do smack down students, but notice that nearly all of those letters are letters we wish we could send, but do not, because they'd land us in the dean's office post haste. Likewise with the plans, strategies, ideas, cat juggling, etc. We do catch them when they cheat, because it's so screamingly obvious (when a functional illiterate turns in a final paper seemingly written by Linus Pauling, it's almost always because it was written by Linus Pauling) but notice how often we lament how our Incompetent Dean of Students does Nothing (capital N there), or worse, gets us in trouble. So, welcome to the club, we're glad to have you!

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  11. Wait, we're all confident? Really? It's either liquid confidence of anonymous confidence!

    Actually, I think I am pretty confident (and I don't feel bad for saying this). But it took me a decade to finally realize I was in charge and had the right to be in charge and that the snowflakes' opinions didn't matter (this was a few years ago when this realization seemed to occur). I'm not sure if it was just a function of aging, or a function of having been teaching for many years, or the fact that I have way more important things in life that matter to me than my job, but all of the above led, I'm pretty sure, to being more confident, overall. Mostly. Sometimes.

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    1. And welcome to the community of those who post their darkest fears online!

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  12. It is intimidating standing up there and feeling like the nekkid emperor.
    Just keep in mind that, no matter how incompetent you feel, you know more than they do.
    It helps to remind yourself of that on a regular basis.

    I do think I made a hash of it on a regular basis when I started out in this gig.

    Hang in there. It gets easier.
    Hell, sometimes it's downright *fun*.

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