“How do I create a professional relationship with my students? Can I maintain authority and treat students fairly while striving for them to like me? Where should the boundaries be? If I become my students’ buddy, how can I assess them properly (i.e., give them low grades when appropriate) without compromising our relationship?” – these are all questions that have came across my mind as I have yet and anxious to teach a college course yet. These questions zero in on my mind, especially when I kind of do want to be the “popular professor”. During my tenure as a substitute teacher I was the “cool sub”, when I would walk into the schools that were familiar with me, especially the high schools, the students would bum bar me with questions like “what class are you subbing for?” “Can you sub for my class soon?”, “When are you going to be here again?” As I enjoyed seeing their happy faces and listening to the different confidential adventures they’d go on the weekend prior I was afraid I was becoming a friend instead of a professional instructor. It felt as though I had little authority, the times I did get frustrated some of the “gate keeper” students would see my frustration and yell to their peers “Be quiet! I like this sub and I am not trying to get in trouble!” But I felt like that should have still been my job to find the balance of being the professional authority figure and the “cool sub” and the same time.
Finding out who I am as a teacher and finding my teaching voice is something that I can honestly say I am anxious more than anything about teaching. I want to be able to find that balance being that confidant,, stimulating my students’ knowledge, and having that authoritative respect from my students all at the same time. Is it a process and something that comes with time?
The “Authentic teaching self” really helped me to think and answer some of the above questions. The idea that “teaching is not always about you”, for some reason that resonated with me I was thinking about me and my position in the classroom more than my future students. The handout suggested to “step outside of yourself” so that you can be attentive to the students and not make the classroom your stage with the students as a passive audience. This suggestion helped my anxieties calm down a little. Finding the balance is important but recognizing that teaching is about the students is even more important. This was just my Aha! moment.