When I began reading Sarah Deel’s “Finding my Teaching Voice,” the very first line, in which she says “when [she] began teaching… all [she] knew about teaching came from watching [her] own teachers over the 16 years [she’d] spent in school,” resonated with me. I feel that’s the same mindset that I’m in right now– often thinking about instructors I’ve had in the past, and what they did that I liked and disliked.
I realize that I’m making (at least) two somewhat problematic assumptions in this line of thinking:
(1) That I should emulate those who have come before me.
Sarah Deel’s essay dives into this one. She ultimately comes to the conclusion that your teaching style comes from within. That being said, it can be difficult to sit down and answer, “who am I?” To complicate things further, I (and everyone else, I imagine) can be very different in different contexts. So the real question is, “who am I when I teach?” What parts of my personality do I want to accentuate as a teacher?
(2) That the type of instruction that I responded well to as a student is what others will respond to as well.
What I find most helpful or engaging in the classroom isn’t necessarily what others respond to, so trying to base my own teaching style off of what I like in a teacher may not be the best method. Students have different learning styles, and come from different backgrounds and with different skills. While it’s probably impossible to cater to every student’s style (although that may depend on how many students you have), I try to keep in mind that having some variety is important.