When you become a teacher, you adopt a title at the beginning of your name. As a result, you adopt a new identity.
You are no longer Jamie, who plays basketball on the weekend and enjoys video games.
You are now Mr Wilson. Your job in your new identity is to discover who Mr Wilson is to others.
When we become a teacher, we must create a new identity for ourselves in the classroom and create a professional gap between ourselves outside the classroom and inside the classroom.
This isn’t to suggest that you need to be rigid without personality. It is important that you share some of your personality with your students to build rapport and engagement. It’s about having some distance to maintain professionalism and to upload a particular ethos around students. As teachers, there is a code of conduct that stipulates how you interact with students. Take for example, your love for beer. This topic doesn’t come up in the classroom. That trip to Amsterdam? Save it for another time.
Aside from your everyday conduct, you should think about who you want to be in the classroom. For example, when people think of Mr Wilson, what comes to mind?
Here is a way of self-reflecting:
- Get an A4 piece of paper.
- Record on the page your teacher name.
- Around your name, record what you would like your students to think of you. It might be: supportive, sense of humour, fun, respectful or engaging. You might like to jump back to your teacher philosophy for inspiration.
- Present this page somewhere in your office. It is too easy to be bothered by everyday stress and forget about that inspirational teacher you aspire to become. Make it a personal habit to look at the page each morning and reflect on what you can do to maintain this classroom persona. How will you always be kind despite the tricky behaviour that might be present? How will you maintain a fun classroom and activities despite the pressure of exams and standardised tests and marking? These are important questions as, over time, you will need to find coping mechanisms for this pressure.