At the start of this writing, I do not have an idea what kind of a teacher I am. This is a question that I have never thought of before. Or it is just because I did not know that I can decide what I want to be for a job (teaching). Well, this is a good start to be authentic, creative and special!
I have been in all kinds of authentic relationships as I grow up and enjoyed it, so for me, authenticity is not difficult at all. The boundary is not an issue for me too because I am more focused on the students’ learning than developing any personal relationship with them. It’s not that I am very rigid or inaccessible, I am just not more cheered up by intellectual communication rather than too much socialization. Therefore, the students will not get enough emotional rewards to keep talking to me about things not related to their learning (I guess). I am a big fan of all kinds of technology. So trying out the different forms of technology and the education theories behind it (e.g. networked learning, blogging, or collaboration tools) is part of the future plan for sure.
Usually, I am the teaching assistant, not the instructor of the class. I did a few lectures but I do not think that I have had enough experience in lecturing and presentations to master it. But I know sometimes it went well if (1) I knew the contents very well, (2) the content itself was very interesting, and (3) I felt confident in my knowledge about it. Other than that, I am not that good at lecturing especially with respect to the sense of humor or personal charm. With the cultural difference between me and the majority of the students, I don’t think humor or personal charm can be the key attraction of my teaching. In order to keep me feeling well, I need to design and prepare the course contents well and sufficiently. I do not feel comfortable without a clear agenda. Maybe flexibility is what I will develop as I gain more experience on teaching, but as a teaching novice, for now, I need to do the homework. Except for the language and cultural perspective that may have limited my potential in lecturing, I enjoy interacting with the students and see their curious faces and I enjoy satisfying that curiosity with whatever I know or I can figure out. I do not find curiosity as often in lectures as in the more personal teacher-student interactions. Curiosity not only lights up the learning students but also me as the teacher. Lectures are not as rewarding and cheering to me as my interactions with the students, each as a special individual. Therefore, if I am going to teach, I will keep my lectures as concise as possible (following the 15-20 minutes rules). And then I will turn all the other contents to in-class tasks, games, projects for which I will have a better connection with the students. I can then work around the classroom and sit down with each of the students to understand their progress and provide the specific guidance for that student. This is also the time the students can develop a better sense of belonging and commitment to the learning in my course. I do not mean just walking around and showing a friendly gesture. I remember people well and keep track of their progress well. I often still remember the questions they asked on a former week during a new talk. The students can tell if you are just acting like you care about them or you really pay the attention and efforts.
I am passionate about all the in-class interactions (games, in-class tasks, lab hours, etc) also because I am confident in problem-solving and explaining things to the students regarding a specific question. I am in an applied-science-and-technology major. Especially for technology, it is very easy to get stuck here and there and everyone’s problem can be different. When the problems are common, I would always make use of an online page to deliver the possible solutions to the students at one setting. Then I can have more time to help with their new and unique problems. In order to guarantee that I can have enough interaction with the students, it is more suitable to control the size of the class so that the average time I spend with each student will not be too little. The interactions is motivating for both the students and me. Moreover, it helps me to build up my authority as the students benefit from these individualized mentoring and inspirations.
One shortcoming of my teaching feature is that if I explain things too well and help them too well, sometimes they would rely too much on me and may have the tendency to save time by asking me to help them with the easiest problems without thinking about it themselves. This is the lessons learned previously. In the future, before giving the students any guidance or help, I need to evaluate what questions/problems they have, how much efforts it requires for them to solve it themselves and how much efforts they have spent on it. Then I can cue them how to continue but leave the detailed explanation until they are already over it.
The last feature that I would like to reflect about myself is that I enjoy challenging questions from the students. I feel more motivated when the students show their engagement, curiosity and doubting. I would like to keep the information I deliver to the students in an open-to-question status and if possible from multiple perspectives. I have been a victim of a single-perspective education for years and I feel very committed to saving people from it. The purpose is also to let them feel that they own the class and they decide what the teacher (me) will teach them. Once they own it and keep having the curious face in my class, they will get rewarded by an enthusiastic teacher willing to spend more time on all the challenges they have brought to her!
I have tried my best to bring this incomplete profile of me as a teacher. Yet due to my limited teaching experience, I believe I still have more to explore and improve. I am not being inferior, but just frank. What matters is to get started finding out that teaching self, and keep refining it as we teach. I accept this incomplete status, I am open to any critiques, and I am eager to find out more from your posts and from my own experiences in the future.