Find My Authentic Teaching Self from Four Classes

I have worked for professors as teaching assistant and taught different classes for four years. It’s the first time I think about authentic teaching self after I have read the reading materials in this week. Ironically, to find my teaching self, I’d like to start with four teachers I know in my department.

The first professor I’d like to mention is a research faculty who teaches both undergraduate lecture and graduate classes. I was both his teaching assistance and students in his classes. One feature of his teaching is emphasis on information and details. When I did TA job for him, some undergraduate students ask me how to grasp the gist of the professor’s lecture. The students complain about so many details they need to memorize for quizzes and exams. Speaking of his quizzes and exams, the grade of his lecture is made up mostly of quizzes and exams. I was also his students in graduate courses. The professor would modify a little bit in graduate courses or seminars, but to memorize knowledge and information is very important. These make sense to you if you are in the classes. He has B-type personality and is always at a slow pace.

I was also a student in the second professor’s graduate class. This professor, in my opinion, is definitely A-type personality. He seems to do everything very efficiently and fast: grading papers, conducting studies, writing manuscripts, and so on. In his graduate level class, we were asked not to memorize much information but to read research papers; and, there were always discussions and even debates in the class. He would lead discussions and debates. Instead of quizzes and exams, he gave us take-home midterm and finals. We could write anything related to the question in and just need to defend our arguments in the exams. As students, our participation is the most important part of his teaching.

The third teacher is my colleague. I invited him to give guest lecture to my class and observed his teaching. He likes to use multiple media and digital methods in classes. Interestingly, he took Contemporary Pedagogy class. He always tries different methods to attract students’ attention and get them engaged. He is an outgoing person and loves communicating with other people.

The fourth teacher is an old professor. I talked to him about his teaching and sat in his class to observe his class. He always told me he see teaching as performance and see students as his audience. He gets himself prepared for every class physically and mentally. Although he doesn’t use a lot of modern techniques, he will also try as much as he can to make students engaged in class.

I found my teaching self in all of these teachers. We always think the first professor’s teaching is old fashion and not efficient to facilitate learning. And, sometimes students wouldn’t like his teaching. However, I found the students in his class benefits from this old-fashion teaching most. The second professor’s teaching most fits graduate seminar. The students need to prepare for the discussions and debates very well in the class. You wouldn’t expect to obtain knowledge and information from the discussions but would get training on how to think a question from different perspectives. Personally, I did’t enjoy the third teacher’s class very much, because he used too much technologies and didn’t treat students as active learners. I think to cover materials will decrease students’ motivation no matter how fancy the teacher covers the materials. As the fourth instructor, I admire his passion and effort to make the class vivid. In contrast to the third teacher, the fourth professor does use modern technologies as lot, but he is still able to engage his students and make them learn from the class. Therefore, I think whether use technologies is not the most important in teaching, but how to effectively facilitate learning of these active learner is crucial for successful teaching.

2 thoughts on “Find My Authentic Teaching Self from Four Classes”

  1. Framing your understanding of your “authentic teaching self” in terms of four mentors / colleagues you’ve worked closely with works really well here, and you’ve given me much to ponder. I find it interesting that the teacher you really admire (#4), identifies his success in seeing teaching as a performance, and yet you find that he uses technologies to create active learning environments. Tell me more! How does this work?

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience, they are very interesting and inspiring! Obviously, different teachers have very different personality and teaching style. Personally, I feel young teachers would like to use modern technology to help their students to learn while older teachers were good at using their charming personality to attract their students. Since different students also have their own background and preference, it is hard to say which method is better. However, how to choose teaching methods also depends on who you are teaching and what you are teaching. Method of the first professor may be more suitable for entry-level students and the instructor used a lot of digital techniques may due to this methods fits his/her lecture materials the best.

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