Not everyone can teach well. Many people believe that if you have the right credentials and mastery of subject, then you can teach others. I disagree, I believe that teaching is a skill and like any other skills if you practice it the right way , you get better at it. One may not start of well, but with appropriate training, knowledge about the teaching practices and opportunity to practice can make anyone a good teacher (including self awareness).
For the past year I have been teaching a class at VT and reflecting back on how I am in a classroom setting has given me a slight Idea of what kind of a teacher I am and ways in which I am changing. I have learned that listening is as important in the classroom as teaching. Actively listening to my students (within the classroom and outside) has allowed me to get informal feedback about what they are learning and what they are not learning. Professor Fowler’s- “Passion, Preparation, and Energy” really resonates with me as I continue to develop my presence in my classroom. Before I enter my classroom I always think of “choose your attitude”. One’s attitude has an impact on others and in a classroom setting I am always a role model (whether I agree or not) and if my attitude is negative, towards what I am teaching, than subconsciously it will transfer to my audience.
Early last year I struggled with some of same questions that Sarah Deel posed (How do I create a professional relationship with my students? Can I maintain authority and treat students fairly while striving for them to like me? Where should the boundaries be? How do the students see me?…) I soon realized that it was not just about the students and the ways in which they viewed me as a teacher, but it was more about how I viewed myself as one. If I am comfortable with who I am as an individual then it is easier to not think about the rest.
Over the time I also realized that it is good to be flexible; flexible with the ways in which I teach, the content I hope to cover in a given class session and flexible in the ways that I evaluate each of my students. I have also realized that students have varying needs and some are more involved and invested than others. Therefore, I need to invest differently in each student based on their needs. I recognize that I am really good at building one on one relationships with individuals as opposed to large group settings. Therefore, each semester I have all of my students meet with me at least once a semester. This allows me to learn about them, their interests outside of the classroom and learn from them. As a result my students are more engaged in class and some stay after class to talk to me or discuss information further. In summary, my teaching style involves flexibility, actively listening, building relationships, remaining passionate, prepare in multiple ways and choosing my attitude.