Self-Assessment

This week’s post prompt had me perplexed, given that we are to describe our “authentic teaching self,” and I have never formally taught a day in my life. However, after going through this week’s readings, I realized that teaching doesn’t necessarily have to be in a classroom. I’ve helped tutor students, helped run training programs, and consistently try to teach the students I manage at work to have proper workspace etiquette, etc. I thought it would be helpful for myself to write down what I consider some of my biggest personality traits, and try to align them with a “teaching voice”–

  1. Intuitive- I tend to make decisions based on my instincts, and what I feel is best at the given time. This is normally a mix of what is the most realistic option and what seems the most rational. This personality trait also eliminates time that I could be spending making decisions or dwelling on a decision. Instead, I go with my gut and stick with it. This could help in regards to teaching to a) make quick judgements, b) help others learn to listen to their inner voice, and c) be able to think more creatively.  This article provides a really neat perspective on intuition and how it can inform creative decisions.

einstiens-intuitive-mind-5-x-7

  1. Independent- (A nice way of saying introverted.) I very much enjoy my alone time, am not the most outgoing of people, and like to make decisions on my own. I prefer to observe than engage ~but am happy to engage when need be~. Some people are naturally more outgoing and eager to be social, but for introverts like me, its often a very tiring process. As a teacher, this is probably one of the worst personality traits to have. However, I imagine there would be ways to deal with this effectively, such as scheduling one-on-one appointments with students so they could get valuable face-time, and allow them to feel known on a personal level by their teacher. Many students are independent/introverted as well, so this gives them the opportunity to ask the questions they might not otherwise ask in a large classroom setting.
  2. Personable- I consider myself to be an easily-approachable, personable person. I very much enjoy when someone comes up to me and tells me about themselves, asks me questions, and more. I always do my best to listen to my friends and peers, and make an effort to become engaged in what they are saying. I often ask questions and encourage others to elaborate, which I imagine would be a very effective tool in a classroom. For instance, you could pose an open-ended question to your class, and ask those who answer to elaborate on their yes-no answer. Key features to being personable is to have direct eye contact, minimize distractions like your phone, and have positive body language that reflects theirs. I also think its important to exude positive energy and do your best to make others feel good. I think this personality trait would enable students to approach me and ask questions, feel comfortable that I am engaged in our discussion, and feel positive about the feedback I provide.
  3. Empathetic- I believe that part of being personable (above) is being empathetic. (Often this is confused with sympathy, i.e. feeling bad for someone. Instead, empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes). This means I care about situations that others are in, good or bad, and try to identify with them. As a professor, this could be both a good and bad trait to have. You would be more willing to listen to a particular situation a student is in, such as why they are not prepared for a test, and possibly accommodate them. However, you could be perceived as a pushover or “too easy” on your students, so I’m not convinced its the best trait to have as an educator (especially in higher ed).

Now that I effectively confused myself on whether or not I have the attributes of an effective educator, I’m going to end here. I’m understanding now that any trait could be both a positive and negative in the teaching world, and it’s important to understand yourself as a person and how you work. Sarah Deel says it well: “I hadn’t considered that certain qualities described me (like my earnestness or attention to detail) could be a legitimate part of my teaching voice. Moreover, I could not construct my teaching voice from other people’s qualities, no matter how much I admired them. My encounter with Parker’s ideas freed me to try to become a teacher true to my own qualities of self.”

 

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5 thoughts on “Self-Assessment

  1. Maria, I think that last value you listed is the most important for a role of an instructor. To be empathetic does not make you a pushover. You can be understanding of a student’s situation and not overly lenient. I think that you and I share many similar personality traits, except in real life I’m pretty sure I suffer from RBF and my wife tells me I am not at all approachable. Since I have no idea how to change my face (without surgery) I guess I’m screwed. I believe if you truly care about the well-being of your students and their success you will be a great instructor. You do not have to be an entertainer or rule with an iron fist, you have to be Maria. You have to convey what you know they best way you know how and care a whole heck of a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love where you end up here, Maria. I also want to put in a plug for the possibility of being an introvert who does indeed thrive in a learning community (that might sometimes look like a classroom). Yes, you will need some down time to recharge after class, or engaging through a twitter conversation, or responding to student work, but being an introvert often makes one more aware of what’s needed to engage effectively in F2F situations. Just because it makes us a bit uncomfortable and doesn’t feel “natural” right away doesn’t mean that you can’t be good at it and even grow to like it. A LOT. Like I said, just schedule in the regenerative time as needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really appreciate your authentic voice in this post. On your first point on being intuitive, I often tell my students that an instructor is the thermometer of the room. It is very important to have the situational awareness that allows you to read the ‘room temperature.’

    Aside, I think empathy is a necessary quality. I often tell students that, after all, we are all human beings, we have our ups and downs. I care about them doing their best, and if they encountered any difficulty, I would try my best to help them.

    Teaching is one of the most rewarding experiences (most days), I hope you will enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was a really fun post to read, Maria. I like the part at the end when you say, “Moreover, I could not construct my teaching voice from other people’s qualities, no matter how much I admired them.” I could not agree more with that. Though sometimes I would like to be the energetic, entertaining teacher like some I’ve met in my past classrooms, I can only cultivate the characteristics that are truly mine. Great post.

    Like

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