GRAD 5114: Discovering your authentic teaching self

Reading about “Discovering your teaching self” highlights the importance of the way or style of teaching. The concept of still learning and writing about this proves that there is really no right or wrong way to teach, or else it would be that simple and taught as a rule in graduate school. This means no specific way prevails in providing information to students, but there are definitely certain ways more effective than others.

As we start our teaching career we all recall the best teachers we had or liked and try to copy their styles, hoping that would yield the same successful results it yielded on us years ago. It turns out that is not how things work exactly. Having a successful teaching experience as a students doesn’t necessarily mean that you, yourself will be able to pull the same successful outcome if you use the same style. If we think about it, the reason is very simple: ” Teaching is also about reflecting your personality in the style you teach rather than copying other styles”. It is about utilizing your best traits to serve your purpose. It is rather a journey you undergo to discover what you are doing right and what doesn’t work. And I think it is not a constant finding that applies to all your classes and students. The general outline of your style will definitely be consistent, if you are  funny by nature then that will always reflect in your all of your teaching styles, but the specifics will differ. The topics you are teaching and the level of students you will be teaching will dictate some peculiarities. This requires continuous adaptation of your style to better serve the purpose of a specific lecture, but that doesn’t mean there is not a certain level of your character reflected even in those specifics.

I think with experience you learn the best scenarios and best mechanisms to cope with specific teaching situations. You learn that every professor must have a unique style which makes him/her special, and this style is certainly related to their beliefs and characters. Personally, in the very brief teaching experience I had during my masters studies I learned to reflect myself while teaching, but up to a certain limit. I learned to read my students and my audience and see what traits of myself are better received by the specific set of students and I acted accordingly. I had two sections with 20 students each and I behaved partially different with each of these sections. My first section had a more loud, easy-going, fun type of students which required me to teach in a more easy going yet quiet way. The second section had more serious and quiet type of students which forced the other side of me to balance the lack of energy and excitement in the room. Although I behaved slightly different in both of these sections, I still managed to keep the basics of my personality and style in both,  changing the volume of the traits I have to better fit the circumstances.

4 thoughts on “GRAD 5114: Discovering your authentic teaching self”

  1. It is very interesting to observe other factors that influence our teaching styles in your article. Specifically, the number of students and having different sections of the same class. I believe that the number of students might be a critical factor given that the level of engagement is inverse to the number of students. This is one of the reasons that some universities place the ration of students to professors as one of their valuable traits. About the different sections, I guess if you have 2 or more big sections the teaching style will be the same giving the level of engagement cannot be improved. However, in small class is where teaching styles and adaptations might come useful to adequate to the small and engaged group.

  2. Reem, thanks for sharing!
    I really liked the point you brought up having to adapt your teaching style to your students. This is something I’ve found myself having to do with my students as well, and has consequently helped me to see what works well/doesn’t and has allowed for me to explore different aspects of my teaching persona within the same semester. I think it’s so important that though you were adapting to the needs of your different sections, you were able to still stay true to yourself and interject your personality where you could.

    1. Hi Reem, I agree with Emma that being adaptable is a good skill to have. Being able to “read the room” is so important. I am willing to bet that in your class of quieter students, that they were no less excited about the learning, they just were a class of folks with a different vibe. Carry this ability forward with you because it will help you to in building rapport and meeting your students where they are.

  3. Hi Reem,
    I agree with your statement “it is not a constant finding that applies to all your classes and students”, very well said! I personally always thought of it from a student’s perspective that I learn differently depending on the course content. Your experience is a great example that teachers also need to adapt to different courses and audiences.
    Thank you for sharing
    -Sam

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