On an early morning walk many years ago with my neighbor, a journeyman carpenter, I expounded instructor funny bile for maybe a mile. My companion began shaking his head even as he laughed at my riffs on preposterous excuses and dumbfounding laziness. Finally, he said, “You know I could never be a professor. I don’t know how you do it.”
I waved off the acknowledgment of our heroic task. “You get tough and you learn to laugh.” His head shook. “No, no. I’ve listened to your jokes and complaints about students for a long time. I feel sorry for you.”
I slowed the pace. “Every day,” he went on, “I build houses. The studs are never quite straight; the nails are imperfect and the plans mistaken. Contractors screw up schedules, suppliers deliver late, clients change their plans -- I could complain about these blunders every day but I’d never build anything.”
I flushed as I saw myself through his eyes – a crabby professor, always with a funny student story flavored with blame.At Inside Higher Education, Larry Spence describes the "Occupational Hazard" of how those addictively amusing stories of student weakness can keep one from building teaching strength, and how, to become a better teacher, he decided he had to kick the habit. It's definitely worth a read.