Tuesday, June 16, 2020

People Change

In the past, I've heard department chairs lament that once they became chair, people (specifically, the people in their departments) changed the way they treated them.

In my short time, I've noticed that I've changed.  I'm even more careful in my communication.  I mean, I always tried to be reasonably careful, to not hurt people unnecessarily, to not use unkind language, and so forth.

That's not to say I was perfect, but I tried.  (I still regret the student who was deeply hurt that I'd marked on a very short paper, very bad paper that she should spell the title of the play [King Lear] correctly.  Having dyslexia, she took that as a personal attack, and presumed I knew.  Though, of course, I didn't know, since the paperwork a college instructor gets to provide accommodation just tells us the appropriate accommodation, and not the reason.  And even if I were told, with 50 or 60 students at a time, I might not have remembered.  Still, I regret hurting her.)

But now?  I'm WAY more careful.  It's like I have no confidence in my ability to communicate clearly.  I can barely bring myself to post on facebook, though I'm happy to comment on my relative's posts, and feel at east doing so.

When I email someone now, I stop and wonder how what I've written can be misconstrued or misunderstood.  I'm not nearly as worried that I'll look stupid as I am that I'll mess things up badly.

I hope I gain a bit more confidence in the job before the new semester starts because this hesitation, this uncertainty, adds a lot of time to things that should be relatively uncomplicated.

So far, my colleagues are treating me pretty much the same as ever.  If anything, they're exhibiting more patience in teaching me what I need to know to take care of departmental stuff.

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