Risky Business

[I think I have more fun coming up with the title than writing the actual piece.]

For me, taking a risk means addressing your fears. Having courage.

Last week I let my fear hijack my motivations to write my 6×6 piece. I made the mistake of reading other posts before I finished mine and became overwhelmed by the incredible expertise and detail that was being portrayed by my peers. Self doubt set in, and before I knew it, I had started deleting paragraphs that no longer seemed “good enough.”.

So here I am, a day late, starting from scratch, but with a much lighter load, since I have removed the unnecessary pressure to finish by a deadline and follow the suggested guidelines!

I have decided that my sense of shame and disappointment for not living up to my usual standards is experienced daily in the classroom (and on Canvas, Zoom and Webex…) by our students. Despite what we may think about their apparent lackadaisical behavior, many of our students are stunted by their own negative self talk, made worse by the dreaded sin of procrastination. I have seen this happen so frequently over the past 30 years of teaching that I do not need a research study to back me up.

Negative self talk may include such notions as “I am not as good as my classmates,” or “my instructor knows so much more than me, so I am not going to say anything in class” or “I don’t think I can finish this work by the deadline, so why bother?”

Negative self talk is risky business. It can destroy a perfectly good opportunity for learning and life advancement. What can we say to our students that might boost their self efficacy? How important are the deadlines? How could we rephrase our guidelines? What if you could say one thing that could help a student muster up enough courage to get the job done without any self doubt? Would you be willing to take that risk?

I hope I don’t get scolded for my late submission! jk


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