Three “Wow”s about Finding My Teaching Voice

When I tried to discover my authentic teaching self, I went through three “wow” moments.

Wow, panic is a common thing. That was the first feeling I went through when I was discovering my teaching voice. When I started to try to picture myself teaching, and search for a suitable and strong teaching image, I felt so embarrassed and panic that I couldn’t really see one, which got me into an even worse situation. I kept this secret to myself at first, I tried to think over and over again, and I still didn’t get an answer or come up with a good model. Then I finally decided to open up to people around me about this, I found I was not the one wondering about their teaching image. Just like if you get a new pair of glasses, you start to pay attention to glasses on the road. Suddenly, I saw the same problem everyway, even in the TV shows. In How I Met Your Mother, the main character Ted Mosby got hired to be a professor at university, he went through a change from an architect to a professor of architecture. He was so panic that he even forgot if there was one or two “F” s in the word professor when he would like to write down his self-introduction.


Wow, role model is important. That was the second feeling I found out about the searching journey. When I tried to anchor myself, I started to think about all the great professors I had courses with before, their teaching voice, their personality, their ways to connect with students. At one level, I noticed that I always talked about the professors’ teaching style with my friends, and always assumed that if I was teaching, I would like to be like them or make improvements. I heard so many other students talk like that too. For example, when I posted about pink time inspired by Dan Pink, I noticed that some comments said that they would like to try so. That is an important kind of imitating and learning, just like the basic one human species did million years ago. At another level, I felt that my teaching voice at this point is still adjusting, so it is always changed according to different professors’ influences. Role model is important to this standard since our teaching, like our lives, are influenced by different people we run into, different incidents happen, different path we choose every day.

Wow, acting can’t last long in teaching. That was the third thing I realized along the searching way. Going back to Ted Mosby, he set himself up as a teaching image too far away from his own personality, all the weird and awkward acting only leaded to those moments made him lose sight of who he was for a second. I felt the same, if we want to follow up a teaching role model that is too different from our true self, acting can’t last long.


Thus, my teaching style and approach so far are as followings. First, I accept myself as a learner when it comes to teach, so I would not be too panic once I feel I am still searching for my style. I would be always trying new activities and approaches to get the feedback from students and adjust more. Second, I gain new knowledge and new teaching images from my professors every day, I always associate their teaching with their personality to see how they fit themselves into teaching, and discover how different people teach differently. Third, I try to keep the true me when I teach, since I recognize myself as kind, energetic, genuine, creative, but I also like to live up to perfection. So I would teach in an energetic and genuine style, filling with creative activities. I would lay down detailed rules about the class and the assignments, and grade students in a strict way focusing on their learning process and learning effort.

8 comments for “Three “Wow”s about Finding My Teaching Voice

  1. 21 February, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Dan, I always love it when people can relate teaching back to pop-culture! I think part of this is because I am something of a pop-culture junkie, but I also think that it show that you are able to identify traits of these individuals, very much like an actor would when preparing for a role. This is the same reason I watch senators speak on the house floor while I’m preparing for presentations, there are characteristics that I want to pull from these people by observing them.
    You made a great observation in your post, if your teaching voice is close to who are personality-wise, you won’t have to do much acting. You’ll have to be cognizant of other things; tone, pace, clear communication, but not who you are. I think our teaching voices change all of the time, when we start out, the changes are large and noticeable, however, when we become more comfortable with teaching and have beeing doing this for years I believe those changes will be more marginal and less noticeable to those who haven’t observed us before. Great post, thanks for sharing :D

  2. 21 February, 2017 at 11:35 am

    You’re right about acting as a teacher not lasting long. Portraying something you straight up aren’t over an extended period of time. Despite my concurrence with your blog though, I think that some personality types need that type of separation if you will from who they are outside of the classroom and who they are inside the classroom. Some of us may need that division. How I speak to people in these settings may be rather different. I don’t think I would try to encourage an intellectual discussion on tourism development with my friends while I am out to dinner. I also want to keep some of me to myself and to my personal life. I think a person who wishes to become a teacher must find the stride that suits them best.

  3. 21 February, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Thanks for sharing your WoW moments!As i anticipate learning and gaining my teaching voice your experience and things your shared in this blog has helped me gain ideas on how I can build a health, professional relationship with my future students. Thank you for this reflective post!

  4. 21 February, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Your wow moments were very similar to my wow moments! I’ll never forget the initial panic that took place prior to teaching my first class. Looking back now, the panic was a subtle reminder that it mattered to me. What and how I was teaching was very important to me and I wanted to present the information in an effective manner. I’m sure there will be many more wow moments moving forward.

  5. Ruoding Shi
    21 February, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Dan, I can feel the confidence in your teaching style! I like the point that we are all learners in some sense and with this belief, any failure can be viewed as an opportunity to improve instead of an evidence of lack of ability. Your post inspires me in many aspects, thanks!

  6. 22 February, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Great post! I really enjoyed your last bit about where your teaching style currently rests. To some extent I think we all feel like actors when we get in front of a room full of people (hello imposter syndrome!) and maybe that level of nervousness is okay because it keeps us on our toes and helps us find new methods to connect with our students through teaching. Again, great post! I think many can relate!

  7. 22 February, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Love this! One because I’m a big HIMYM fan and the other because I loved reading about your ah-ha moments! They’re all SO true! I was reminded of how even the greatest public speakers talk about getting nervous before going on stage. I also really appreciated this line from your thoughts on role models – “Role model is important to this standard since our teaching, like our lives, are influenced by different people we run into, different incidents happen, different path we choose every day.” It just really struck me with how intertwined we all are and how different things impact us all. I also totally agree with what you said about acting not lasting long when it comes to teaching. I’m a strong believer in that we have to be authentic in our classrooms to who we are outside of the classroom too. Otherwise, we are doing both ourselves and our students a true disservice. Thanks again for sharing!

  8. 29 November, 2017 at 7:08 am

    wow article .. thank you for this sharing

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