Blog 1 – Finding My Authentic Teaching Self

I think this week’s readings challenged me a bit. I’ve always enjoyed teaching and knew it was something I wanted to do professionally. I enjoy interacting with students, and to me, teaching feels like a way that I can make an impact on the lives of others. That being said, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it means to be the “ideal” teacher. How do they behave in the classroom? What kinds of teachers get students to talk about them (in a good way)? As I’ve taken classes, I’ve written down what I like about my professors – things like the degree to which they’re approachable, entertaining, or knowledgeable. This, however, became a double-edged sword. Though it gave me comfort to have a list of attributes I could aim for, it made be nervous in the sense that I was worried I couldn’t be those things. Or, if I could, would it seem authentic? This week’s readings were a good reminder that good teaching is not a one-size-fits-all answer.

I do want to be approachable, entertaining, and knowledgeable. But I also realize that I can be other things as well. Like Sarah Deel, I can be a bit rigid and detail oriented. That doesn’t mean I can’t be a good teacher; it simply means that I have to find a way to make these qualities work in the classroom. These qualities help keep me organized and make me well-prepared for class. What I thought was my weakness, in some ways, is my strength.

The wonderful thing about teaching is that we need a variety of teachers. This need stems from the fact that we have a variety of students. The people we teach are individuals, and they need different things. In the same vein, teachers are individuals, and bring different things to the table. This week’s readings were a good reminder that it’s not about fitting into mold of what makes a good teacher; it’s about finding a way to bring the real you into the classroom.

4 comments:

  1. Hi there,

    I love the positive re-frame of your strengths! I think that is incredibly important as teaching can be a vulnerable experience and stretch your creativity in order to accommodate the students in your classroom. Your point about there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to teaching was a nice reminder for me to hear. Personally, I also overthink what it means to be an ideal teacher and a lot of my ideas around this are absolutely informed by the experiences I’ve had as a student. I agree, I think we can find ways to incorporate our “authentic selves” in the courses we teach in a way that fits our personality and style, rather than try to confirm to a rigid idea we have about teaching.

    Great points overall!

    Best,
    Steph

  2. Hello,

    I really enjoyed reading your reflection of Deel’s essay and also agree that there is not a one-fit-all way of teaching. I think it’s reassuring to know that no matter what type of person you are–extraverted, introverted, detail-oriented vs. broad big picture type of person– there are always students that can connect to you and benefit from your unique style. Anyone can be a teacher and that’s what makes the college experience so wonderful for students…different perspectives and ideas all colliding in one place.

  3. Hi, thanks for the post. This actually made me wonder what defines the relationship between a teacher and a student. To my experience, it depends mostly on how good and attentive the student is in the classroom, which I find extremely fascistic. Your point about the diversity of students (not just in social background, but also in intellectual level) appears significant in this regard, I guess. The most creative part of a teaching mind is to discover the amazing variety in students’ approach to a particular topic or text and enjoy it.

    Thanks for bring that up !

  4. I agree with you on finding a balance with being approachable and entertaining. You want to be friendly but at the same time not be a pushover. I have struggled internally with this predicament as a teach because I am try to be a naturally outgoing and friendly person. At the same time, I have had to enforce deadlines and hand back a few grades that I know a few students did not like. It is a struggle that all of us have to face to a certain degree, but if we really believe that we are attempting to do what is best for our students ultimately we should be confident in our abilities.

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