Trying to be cool in high school

I can remember being so stressed out about what I would wear in high school.  In the mall, bouncing between American Eagle, Aeropostal, and Holister trying to pick out clothes that I saw my “cooler” friends wearing.  However quickly in college I stopped caring and just wore clothes that I liked.  It’s amazing how much we can stress ourselves out trying to be someone we’re not, when being yourself always works out in the end.

When reading “Finding My Teaching Voice” I was reminded of a time where I stressed about who I was in high school.  Just as I tried emulating cool kids in high school and failed because I was slightly nerdy and awkward, Sarah Deel tried emulating her favorite professors and failed because she didn’t have the same characteristics as them.

It’s weird how not being yourself causes so much stress and awkwardness.  Other people can tell you’re not being genuine too.  I’ve been in classes where the professor is trying to be someone they weren’t.  Telling jokes they clearly didn’t come up with and such.  So why do it?  Why try to be something you’re not when it makes everyone feel awkward as a result?

I never thought about it in the context of teaching, but it makes perfect sense that you need to be yourself to be comfortable, you need to be comfortable for your class to be comfortable, and your class needs to be comfortable for it to be a good learning environment.

Category(s): GEDI

11 Responses to Trying to be cool in high school

  1. I think that making your students comfortable is one of the most important things we can do as educators. This does not mean fancy chairs and literally being comfortable, but comfortable in being who they are too. Think of it this way: if you are not being your authentic self and the students can tell, either they will dismiss you or they will hole up and not share as much since they see you guarding who you really are.

    If the class is discussion based or if fed my student content in any manner, then you may not get the true engagement you were looking for and may leave students feeling vulnerable or disassociated from the material.

  2. I think this problem of finding yourself is more complicated than assuming that you must be yourself. I believe that everything we do in life is a product of someone else, even such things as behavior which is product of parenting and social associations. I think in some part, if someone uses another professor’s method as a building block (perhaps the professor is a role model) it shouldn’t necessarily create an awkward situation for the students. What I’m saying is just my perspective, and while I wouldn’t condone copycatting off someone, I think shaping your personality after people that influenced you may be part of the process of finding yourself.

    • I agree that you should take what you thought a professor did well and try to replicate it, but only if you posses the traits that made the technique work. Otherwise it will be awkward and will most likely backfire.

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you that being your comfortable self is important for teachers. It also shows that the teacher is confident in teaching, and that will helps the teacher perform better. Another reason that some teachers hide their real personality and pretend to be someone is that they want to be better teachers that are widely accepted, like most students prefer humorous instructors rather than straight faces, so the teachers try to make jokes in class.

  4. It’s so uncomfortable to realize that we might have such insecurities that we need to try and impress our students into thinking we are “cool”. Great blog, I appreciate the perspective you give and the idea that being comfortable may be more beneficial to our students’ learning than convincing them that we are cool.

  5. Hey,

    I also read “Finding my Teaching Voice”, but it reminded me of people trying to emulate me because they thought I was an interesting person. Throughout life I have always wondered why I seemed to be the leader of “clique” where ever I was. I recognized it was not because I was any “cooler” than the other girls, its because I wasn’t afraid to show my true self, I guess I showed confidence and didn’t care about other peoples opinion of me. Likewise I think when we are teaching we need to be true to ourselves and then and only then we can do a good genuine job of teaching confused students.

    Great post!

  6. Yeah, your idea of “trying to be cool in High School” is the perfect metaphor here! It makes me think that, somehow, this process of assuming who you are in the classroom (besides of the benefits to the relationship with the students and to the learning process itself) has also important functions in our own personal process of evolution as whole beings. Thanks!

    Krystalyn Morton says:

    This is such a great point that you made regarding being comfortable in the classroom. As future educators, I think that we often feel there is a certain stereotype that we have to live up to in the class but that is not necessarily the case. Trying to fit that particular mold can be very overwhelming and stressful. I find that my greatest thoughts come to me when I’m in a comfortable, relaxed environment; so why would I not try to achieve that mindset when I’m in the classroom? When you feel comfortable, your thoughts come out more clear, and by default you will be a much better teacher who is able to get the information across in a more comprehensive manner!

  7. I completely agree. Faking it won’t last long and people will notice it. Being yourself is the best way to do anything and be good at it, especially if you’re a teacher. But also challenging yourself from time to time in order to be better and try new ways is also very encouraged.

  8. Very good point Metch! I really enjoyed reading Sarah Deel’s article and found her realization of being herself excellent! I believe it is very important to be yourself, in order to project all you want to transmit. This will definitely make the classroom a better place.

  9. I was sooooo not cool in high school, so I feel you. And being authentic has its advantages, so I agree with what you’ve said in this post. It’s hard enough to be me everyday, I can’t imagine trying to be someone else for a few hours a week.

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