How would I describe my authentic teaching self? Rough. Over compensating. Ok. I’m not real sure at this point. While I have had the honor of teaching people one-on-one, or giving presentations to my classmates, and a few experiences training/teaching new hires at former jobs, I have not had the full experience of teaching a class on my own.
I would love to say, my ideal would be transparent, inspirational, fully present, and encouraging. Transparent enough that my students would understand that there is no way I can be the end-all, know-everything, expert but experienced enough that they can take what I have to offer from that knowledge and understanding. Inspirational that would create thoughts beyond just the requirements of the class and stir a desire to find out more on their own. Fully present, that I can be enough in the room to know what is going on without being said. To be sensitive to the needs of the class and meet them where they are in that moment…be it to discuss what is on the syllabus or what may be happening in the world which could be overriding anything we could cover in class. Finally, encouraging. I would hope that as a teacher I would be supportive and a champion in helping them gain strides in their learning. To be able to have a marked difference from class day one to ending class day.
However, I started out with the words: rough, over-compensating, and ok. I use these adjectives because it is true to how I am currently. Rough because I do not have the experiences in formal teaching to have polished these skills. Over-compensating because I have a tendency to prepare, research, prepare, and repeat that cycle a bit more until I feel prepared to know the material. Usually that is to my detriment, as I learn too much and have difficulties in getting material down to the level where the students are because it all seems important and necessary to me. Lastly, I say ok. Ok, as I have done some things before and have been told I was quite good. That I have a way of explaining things to others without making them feel that my way is the only way and breaking things down into easier to understand ways.
After reviewing some of the materials on finding my teaching voice, I find that being authentic, fully present, and transparent, seem to be a common thread. Honestly, I believe that moving forward, if I give myself enough compassion with my beginner level, I have the potential to be a good teacher. Then I can continue to hone that until I become a great teacher. I know it will not happen overnight, or after one teaching experience, or one class semester. Some liken teaching to acting, with similarities being with preparation, and performance. I think I can relate to that in many ways.
So, in keeping with that theme, and following the lead from one of my favorite Broadway musicals Defying Gravity from Wicked:
Too late for second guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts.
Close my eyes and leap!
It’s time to try defying gravity.
Let’s see if I can indeed defy gravity and become a great teacher!