I have just read the latest entry from Konrad Glogowski entitled "Learning to be myself". In the article Konrad explains how he is presenting himself as a man, not just a teacher, in the blog he is sharing with his 8th grade students. I asked him about doing this in a adult teaching/learning environment and he believes it is a very good strategy, although this approach causes difficulties for educators because they have to reveal themselves as human, not all-knowing which the teacher may feel undermines his/her authority.
One of the exciting things about being a teacher/lecturer is the opportunity for learning from your students. This is especially true when working with adults. They challenge and provoke, which in turn enthuses and stimulates more questions and learning. However, I am not so sure about Konrad's concept of opening myself right up to students. Yes, I agree with role modeling in developing a classroom or virtual community. Yes, I do not want to enforce a position of power over students. But can you really be partners with students when you have ultimate power over them-when you have the final say in whether they pass or fail? What am I-a friend, nurturer, or fellow colleague? I do not know if it is my role to nurture students. I am not their mother. However, I do see that it is important for me to be approachable and a support to them, but I have professional boundaries that I like to maintain which keeps me safe in my teaching practice. I enjoy sharing my midwifery experiences, especially if it illustrates or re-enforces the information I am sharing. Nevertheless, it is vital that my voice is not constantly heard above those of the student. So, whilst I am very interested in how Konrad gets on with 'being himself' I am not sure that I would take that approach - I'm not even sure if my students could cope with me being myself!! Having said all that, if my students read this blog, they will probably get more of a feel of who I am than they would from my classroom presence, so maybe I have totally contradicted myself? Will it be easier for me to be 'myself' in a virtual rather than face-to-face form?
I would be very interested to hear what others think. How do you present yourself in a face-to-face or virtual class? If you are a student, what do you expect from your lecturer?How interested are you in her as a person?