Discovering Authentic Teaching Self

I never teched any kind of classes in my life yet. When I was trying to come up with the idea of authentic teaching self, the first word desperately popped up in my mind was preciseness. As a non-native speaker imaging himself teaching in a foreign country, the word preciseness could have a great chance be the first thing on his mind. Aspects like preciseness could be a few steps away from a teaching philosophy but it is definitely an important principle for teaching. Similar to a society need ethics and laws to keep both humanity and order, education needs to have the upper-level philosophy as well as fundamental principles.

The requirement of preciseness coming from my personal concern about the language, since teaching a class is way different from one-on-one conversation. Misinterpretations can be effectively and easily clarified during the in-person conversation but can be hard to be explained in a class. If confusion keeps happening in a classroom, students may gradually lose interest in the class. We definitely will have the chance and method to appropriately adjust what we imperfect on our early stage teaching. Addition to that, aware that as an experienceless teacher, making mistakes is inevitable, but I would believe that having a mind caring about preciseness in advance will help guarantee the convey of messages.

The article “Finding My Teaching Voice” by Sarah Dell mentioned a perspective that I never thought of before, maintaining the boundary between students and teachers. I once had an instructor who was really close to his students, everyone feels like friends to him. Surprisingly, he is also one of the instructors that gained most of the respects from students and the course that semester worked out pretty good. Thus I see a sustainable boundary as a formation of respects and trusts from both students and instructors. It’s not about the way of teaching, it can be either intimating way of teaching or lecturing methods, but building up an atmosphere that students are willing to learn that at the same time motivate instructors.


6 thoughts on “Discovering Authentic Teaching Self

  1. I think gender be a major factor in why you found Dell’s point about maintaining a boundary between yourself and students surprising. When I read that, it stood out as one of the biggest issues I face as an instructor. I haven’t encountered any trouble teaching at the university level yet, but I have heard from female faculty that students are very likely to really push the boundaries of a student-teacher relationship for their female instructors, and being friendly in the way that your professor was could worsen the unrealistic expectations students may have of them (not respecting deadlines, bringing up personal issues at office hours, disrespecting their authority, etc.). Contrarily, if a female professor isn’t warm she risks being labeled by students in rude and inappropriate ways. A few come to mind from what I heard from peers in undergrad, but none are appropriate to be repeated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree wholeheartedly with this. Gender really matters in terms of the group dynamics and the teacher-student relationship. Please remind me to talk about this in class if it doesn’t come up on its own.


    1. I agree with your point. Professionalism is key in certain situations and setting professional boundaries, respecting and accepting others regardless of their backgrounds and gender or sexuality is essential in maintaining harmonious relationships between the teacher and students. My motto is to always keep it simple, real and respectful.


  2. Qishen — I understand this perspective. Teaching in a foreign country and in a foreign language is incredibly daunting. Of course we want students to understand us, and being “precise” certainly helps with that. At the same time, I think it’s good to both raise awareness around the challenges and opportunities of teaching and learning with people from different cultures, and to encourage students to solve problems on their own. If as teachers we present ourselves more as facilitators and “learning enablers” than just as authorities in our field, we empower students to be more in charge of their own learning.


  3. As a GTA with English as my second language I do share your concerns and aspirations about language and communication. For us, the challenge is not to fall into the trap of “minimal talk”. Because it’s easier to keep communications to the minimum required for class presentation, but then so many opportunities to connect with students and hear their feedback is missed.

    @Yinlin Andrew Ng is my favorite ML professor !


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