What is my teaching voice?
Well, to be honest, I have no idea! I have never taught, I’ve never even been a TA. I’ve thought a lot about the characteristics and approaches I want to emanate in my teaching, and I have some tenuous ideas, but I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the feeling that I don’t have the slightest clue what I’m doing. I’m introverted and I’m not overly comfortable speaking in front of groups. It’s hard to align these characteristics with my ideas of an effective teacher.
Which is why I found Sarah Deel’s piece more than a little reassuring. Maybe I just need to figure out who I am and then just be that person… sounds reasonable, right? I really like how intentional Deel is about incorporating aspects of her personality into making sure she is an effective teacher. Her discussion of her own experience as a student helped me to understand that I think part of what I am struggling with is the fact that I’ve never had many instructors who are like myself. To start with the most obvious difference between myself and my instructors, as an undergraduate, I only had a single engineering course taught by a woman. Most of my professors were confident and loud, and frankly, far too often didn’t seem to care much about teaching. Maybe it’s starting to sound like a good thing that I can’t relate to these qualities. Hopefully I haven’t overgeneralized too much here. I had a few awesome teachers, but unfortunately more often than not, these negative characteristics seemed to be the rule rather than the exception.
As Deel suggests, there are many ways to be a good teacher and overlooked characteristics may actually be key aspects to learning to teach in our own voice.