Saturday, November 3, 2007
Who am I? How do I present myself as a midwifery teacher?
One of the themes of this blog has been how I present myself in the online environment. My thoughts about this have extended into the 'real' world and I have been challenged about how I present myself as a midwifery teacher to my students in the face-to-face environment as well as the virtual world. This has come about as a result of three different discussions. The first discussion has been a bit of an ongoing one that I have had with Sue Waters. On Monday we had a talked about the use of Facebook, which is a social networking site. Sue 'allows' students into her Facebook account and feels it is a great way for her to get to know her students and visa versa. I had my concerns - I have felt very strongly that I want to keep my private self and life separate from my professional one, especially the professional self I present to students. But is that a helpful thing to do? Would I be a better teacher if I allowed students to see more of who I really was? How do distance students get to know me and visa versus when we never have face-to-face interactions? How much do we need to know about each other to have an effective teacher-student relationship? Should we have a teacher-student relationship, especially in the tertiary setting where we are all adults - should it be more of a collegial friendship? How does that notion work when teachers still have power over assessments?
The second thing that happened was that I had my annual performance review at work. One of the things that was said was that students think I am fun and one of their abiding memories is meeting me at Carisbrook, our local rugby stadium where I go to support the mighty 'Highlanders'. What perplexed me somewhat was that that happened two years ago and yet it sticks with the students. The third thing was feedback from students that they'd like to do more with us lecturers - to learn what we're up to and have more personal interactions with us. They feel this would promote a more cohesive feeling in the school.
The truth is: I have had some pretty painful experiences a number of years ago as a new teacher that I have never wished to repeat. The way I have kept myself 'safe' ever since has been to keep a distance from students and not to let them see Sarah - the mad rugby fan who reads trashy historical romances, who would do anything to win a competition prize and dreams of being on TV one day.
Maybe it is time to change that? Maybe, now I am an experienced teacher and have worked out my boundaries and how to protect them, I should enjoy the students for who they are and 'allow' them to enjoy me? Maybe, I need to own who I am as a midwife and lecturer, faults and all and share that with my students? I have a feeling that will be far more beneficial for our mutual learning and development. How do you feel about maintaining your professional boundaries in the job you do? As a teacher, how do you maintain a professional relationship with your students that promotes learning yet allows social interaction? As a student, how much interaction do you want with your teacher?
PS: The significance of the photo? My daughter and I are all dressed in our glad rags because we had just won a radio competition two weeks ago which took us on a return trip to Christchurch in a limo to a concert (Silverchair and Powderfinger) with a night's free hotel accommodation. How cool is that!
PPS: In my attempt to be a more 'caring and sharing' person I have put some photos on FlickR to look at. There are some nice photos of the rhododendrons at Glenfalloch Gardens in Dunedin.