I recently had the pleasure of reading the prologue to Sarah E. Deel’s work, “Finding My Teaching Voice.” In it Deel describes her own challenges in rectifying her personal preconceptions on teaching while learning how to effectively guide a university chemistry class. Notably, Deel had to come to terms that she did not possess and could not fake the base personality attributes of the popular teachers. This piece raises interesting points on the virtues and limitations of sincerity, the selection of success metrics in one’s engagement with students, and the ability of one to take that which is valuable within themselves while also realizing the degree to which the remainder may prove limiting.
Within a challenging situation, it’s often easy to reflexively retreat upon prior concepts of self, to say “this is not me, these guys don’t get me, maybe I shouldn’t be here.” This thinking may occur just as easily within a teacher as a student. We’re all vulnerable to the imposters’ complex and while unmentioned, it seems quite prominent within this work. Whether you pick the Batman or the Count of Montecristo, it’s valuable to have an internal rags to riches/ triumph in adversity/ revenge by success personal story of inspiration. One is not an imposter in such a scenario, one is a hacker more like, hacking their way through the challenges of education from the outside with a laser focus on their true goal. Where Deel discussed her new approaches as an extension of her prior self, built onto the framework she knew well, it may be valuable to work with students in such implementable terms. By mastering a small skill in science, one may acquire greater confidence to try others. When one finds themselves possessed of diverse, science related skills, the student who just wasn’t one of those science guys might suddenly recognize the scientist within. This finding may be greatly assisted by an educators directing their attention towards those positive attributes within one which grow through diligence.
Another trend I note in Deel’s writing is the manifestation of shoulds in response to a stressful situation. Herein i define shoulds as simple unqualified beliefs about the way things are or are meant to be. Perhaps a teacher should always be commanding and have a booming voice? Likewise, perhaps a teacher should be a relatable goofball with a heart of gold? There’s only but so much room for Pattons and Patch Adams before we all tire of their antics, and within the piece Deel quickly recognized the inefficiencies of relating to students homogeneously as a cardboard cut out. Her best path to ensuring the students’ success was again relinquishing that which did not work and working to append on more positive traits, moving forwards as her aspirational self rather than her comfortable self.
All in all, this piece provided a solid description of adaptation in the face of challenge.