Being You is Your Superpower

By definition pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching.  Regardless of your training as a new teacher, being you is what will make you relatable to students.  Books give you the idea of student-centered and teacher-centered instruction, but as the facilitator of you classroom you have to use common sense.  I say use common sense because teacher approaches and style is not one size fit all.

Using your superpower in your classroom means to tap into your strengths and your opportunities to grow as a teacher.  Your personality should be heavily embedded in your lesson plans and teaching style because that becomes your voice. Your style of teaching becomes your trademark.  Ironically, when out your strengths and personality together in your classroom, that becomes your brand as a teacher and no one can take your style away from you.

I personally am known for being firm, loud, and serious about my content.  That is my classroom persona because while I want my children to have fun in class and engage with me, I still have to let them know that I am the boss.

Show your human side to your students because that is what they will respect the most.  For instance, during my fourth year of teaching my students uncovered an invent from my past while browsing the internet.  See the misconception about teachers is that we are always in teacher mode and we do not have a home or personal life. Also before getting to the point of being you, please know that your students and administrators will search for you on social media and the internet just to see what will come up about you.  So with that being said, I had assigned my students a tic-tac-toe board of assignments to complete that went with a novel study we were doing in my class. One of male students quietly called me over to his computer and began to whisper.

“Hey Ms. Bird look what popped up when we tried to find the page to complete our work”.  I had not thought about my students finding a mugshot of me from years before but they did.  The student went on to explain that he was not sharing it with anybody but the majority of his classmates knew about it.  I did what I felt was right in the moment and said to him, “Baby that is from three years ago, it is a matter of public record so I’m not embarrassed.  Just know that it did not affect my job.” It was a lot to say, but it was a teachable moment for my students and I felt the need to address it with all of my students class by class because I wanted them to know that I had nothing to hide.

It completely had escaped me when I gave my students the assignment.  All I knew is that I wanted them to have a discussion board about posted topics and blog posts created by me that were book related.  See I used differentiated instruction to get my students involved because technology is the way of the future. I just did not anticipate that piece of personal information popping up on them.  Even though I gave them step by step instructions on how to access the assignments through my schoolwires page, my students opted to just google me and go from there.

I became a hot topic for a couple days but it died down and we got back to the business of teaching and learning.  One of my strengths based on skillset was to face the problem head-on and not sugar coat a thing. Students respect your truth as a teacher over perception.  Now adults on the other hand go by perception and do not care enough to ask for your truth. Knowing who you are and what you are comfortable sharing about yourself adds to you invincibility as a teacher.  Theoretically, you are a superhero to your students and they like when you put on your cape in chaotic situations. Your life is the canvas for your classroom.

Being you goes a long way when you are trying different approaches and instructional strategies in your classroom.  Students pick up very early on when you are nervous about doing something new in your classroom and they will exploit that opportunity.  This brings me back to not being a pushover in your classroom. There will be times where you have to walk students through assignments and tasks one by one.  There will be other times that as you set the expectations for the lesson students will be able to shift without disrupting the learning environment. Honestly there will be times you have planned a great lesson and after couple of attempts, you strike the whole idea.  

You decide what best for you in your classroom and when your students understand the method to your madness, it makes for a shared learning experience.  There’s a quote that says being transparent and vulnerable keeps you transparent and vulnerable, so be open anyway. So try not to doubt yourself and your ability because the students will only know how far to push you if you know how far you are willing to stretch yourself.  Be you like no one else can inside of your classroom. Staying true to who you are is the best approach to teaching because no one will have the ability to manipulate your style.