Although I have never had a classroom teaching experience, I was a private tutor for around five years in my undergrad, and a GTA responsible for a circuits/electronics help group during my first year at tech. Even though my teaching style never changed, I quickly realized that I had to tweak how I interact with students to cater for my new and more diverse audience.
As most Lebanese people, i tend to be very sarcastic in my daily life interactions. And during my run as a private tutor, I always used sarcasm to entertain and create a bond with my students. This approach was very successful and students responded well, especially since most, if not all, of them where middle to high school boys who had the tendency to be mischievous. I could always capture their attention for around 2 hours, but at the cost of spending the better part of around 30 min discussing random off-topic issues. All in all my approach was successful, leading to improvement in my student’s understanding of the material.
Now lets jump to when i started my GTA here at Tech. I was quite confident in my approach, and, as expected, many students were able to relate with my friendly and sarcastic personality. However, others did not. I ended up with a group of students who specifically waited for my help, and others that completely avoided me. At first this phenomenon was pretty strange to me, I
wasn’t sure exactly what was happening. However, after a while, i started to notice the dumbfound faces of students each time I gave a sarcastic remark. I have to admit, it took me a while to realize that people were misinterpreting me, especially because i come form a country where sarcasm is so deeply rooted in society, it has become second nature. After this realization, I had to change my interaction approach. Primarily, I tried to tone down my sarcasm until i figured out how much the student I am currently helping would appreciate. After all my purpose is to help all student, not just the ones that can relate to my character.
As a closing remark, I am always true to my self, I never completely changed my interaction approach, rather I adapted my interactions to my audience. I tried to find a balance between the way I want to interact with people and the way people want to be interacted with.