Today has been a difficult day with respect to the dayjob. Even though I spoke eloquently and truthfully about the services my department offers to students, the courses I design, and the ways that our team works to help students be successful, I felt like no matter how hard I worked at my dayjob, no one would care if I made a difference.
It sounds like whining. Even as I type this, I wonder if I’m whining about a lack of recognition in a team atmosphere, if I’m asking for some kind of praise or acknowledgement or support that is undeserved. Talking about a lack of acknowledgement is probably whining, but… it’s beyond acknowledgement at this point. I wonder if this lack of recognition is affecting the group’s ability to be funded, to receive the resources that we need to help the students we serve. Is my inability to promote the successes of our group the reason that we don’t get more resources?
I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish I had more feedback when it comes to what I’m doing right or doing wrong. I don’t even know if those who could give feedback *would* offer feedback.
So, I’ve spent most of my afternoon and evening thinking about the situation at the dayjob, and I’ve been trying to put it into some objective context. I thought back to all of the stuff that I’ve been reading this summer about motivation and how some people are able to engage in self-motivation better than others. One of the books I read, Drive by Daniel Pink, mentioned three concepts that apply to helping people perform better in their lives. To excel, Pink says that we need autonomy, mastery, and purpose in what we do. I’d read the book to see how I could apply those factors to encourage my students to do better in the courses that I teach… but as these things seem to always go, I forgot to apply it to myself as someone who wants to excel.
Let’s apply those three things to my current dayjob. Autonomy… most of the time. I design all of the courses that I teach, with minimal input from my director and dean. I research the topics, I back up what I teach with theories, and I document my grading policies with rubrics. I’ve added courses to the university curriculum after a full committee review, and those courses have become part of department remediation policies for students. Mastery… well, I have the opportunity to work on my doctorate (free tuition) but I lack the funding to do other professional activities such as attend conferences or workshops that would allow me to improve my skills as a tutor trainer, first-year experience professional, or an advocate for students seeking remediation during academic probation. I am limited to reading, and there are limited opportunities to practice that mastery. There is no opportunity for promotion within my current track; I cannot have my position or duties reviewed (or so I’ve been told for three years while I’ve gone through the ‘proper’ channels). So, the mastery part of the equation is already stifled.
Finally, there’s the idea of purpose, or the knowledge that what one does connects to a greater picture. That connection was my minor epiphany today; for the past few years, those around me and above me in my chain of command have disregarded and denied my role in helping my students. My purpose is dying a slow death, through a lack of resource and recognition. The message I continue to receive – and received very clearly for the past few months – was that my actions are not connected to the greater purpose. I am not seen as part of the greater purpose, and I’m not sure if I’m wanted as part of that solution.
I don’t feel like I’m part of something bigger anymore. Like being picked last for kickball or something.