This week’s subject talks about being our authentic selves while teaching in the classroom. I spent lots of time reading and re-reading Professor Fowler’s The Authentic Teaching Self & Communication Skills and several of the points that they mention in the article. Within the outline, I looked deeper into section one, the authentic teaching self. This section posed some tips and questions about what does it mean to be authentic in the classroom. All of the suggestions do make sense to me. However, I’m curious through what lens and worldview this article was written. Does the author take into account the positionality and world view of the different types of teachers? Does the author take into account the campus climate and campus politics? I’m not implying that the author doesn’t, however I do wonder.
Growing up, I knew my skin color was different fro my peers but it wasn’t until I began college that I was a woman and it certainly wasn’t until graduate school that I realized that I’m a Black woman. How I show up to spaces and how I convey my message to my students, while I may mean well, it could be taken in differently if I sound “passionate” (read: raise voice/elevated tone) about a topic. There was an incident last semester in which tone of voice and passion in the classroom (& really in general) came into question. some students responded saying that they don’t respond well to that type of interaction. When a topic means something to me or causes one or more of my identities to come into question, I become passionate when I speak on the topic. I’m not going to apologize for that. This conversation did make me question though, is there a way for my to still convey my disdain/dislike about a subject matter/topic in the classroom while making sure that those around me understand that this not a personal attack against them? This same question then makes me think, can I truly be my authentic self in the classroom, if part of my authentic self is sometimes being passionate about which I speak? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be belligerent and in-your-face with my comments. Just because something makes me upset doesn’t mean that I’m always going to get passionate or bent-out-of-shape about certain topics. BUT I also want my peers/colleagues, students and professors to know and understand what means the a lot to me; what makes me uncomfortable, what makes me think twice and unnerves me a bit.
I say all that I said above to ask the question, can I REALLY TRULY be my authentic self in the classroom? At this exact point and time, no I don’t necessarily feel like I can be consistently. And the moments in which I am myself, I feel like I’m being judged. But maybe that’s me being too critical on myself. Maybe I’m too concerned about someone else’s view of me, something that I have no business worrying about.
Aside from those personal thoughts, I think the way that to truly find out what works for you in the classroom is by trial and error. There is no one size fits all to teaching. There are a ton of factors that come into play (e.g. the type and demographics of students in the classroom, campus culture, campus climate, etc.). These thing all play some part at least in how you may possibly present yourself in the classroom. The longer you’ve been at an institution, the less I see these things coming into play.
Okay. I feel like I’m rambling and rant so forgive me. If you made it this far with me, I appreciate you sticking it out and I look forward to reading your thoughts and answer to my main question (read: 3rd paragraph, first sentence).