When contemplating this week’s blog post I was suddenly reminded of a True Colors Personality Test that I took as part of my time as a resident assistant during my undergrad. I tied for both green and blue. (If you haven’t taken a True Colors year check out this quick one here: https://lonerwolf.com/true-colors-personality-test/)
As a result of that personality test, I feel I was better able to work together as a team and work more effectively individually as I had a basis of my true self. That is what our theme and readings were about this week. For the rest of my blog post, I am going to muse on five of my biggest personality traits that I have identified as part of my true character, and how they would help or hinder me in teaching in higher education. I have tried to tie these traits together as best I could from the True Color test and how I view myself.
First of all, I am a confident person. I know what I know. I see this as one of my best traits and one of my biggest flaws. I have been in disagreements with friends and acquaintances about how confident or over-confident I can be in certain situations. But, with that being said, I am convinced that confidence is one of the most necessary traits of a leader and a teacher in the classroom. During teaching, you are assumed to be the closest person to an authority on the subject, and most students will take your knowledge at face value. That is not to say that I am in favor of the “sage on the stage” approach. In fact, I prefer to utilize another one of my personality traits, creativity, to design other ways to deliver information. I am however confident that way I deliver knowledge is in the best interest of students to master the material that I have been tasked to teach them. One possible hinderance is that I may be wrong and not realize it. I am comfortable in my current understanding and if I am wrong, I will plow on through until I check myself or I am called out.
Since, I let the cat out of the bag during m first trait, my second trait is creativity. I am currently designing self-paced learning modules for a Biochemistry class that I am a TA for in order to have an avenue for students who are not performing through the traditional lecture format to still be able to learn the basics of the course content. The only trouble about this aspect of myself is that it can put a lot of pressure on students to learn and apply the information without an educated mind feeing them the process. Therefore, I must be able to strike a balance when being creative, not only to let the students perform to the best of their abilities, but also to keep my hands on the reigns to keep the class on schedule.
A more subtle hint during my last aspect leads me to my next character trait: planning. I find it unsettling to be approaching a deadline, especially the start of the semester, and not have at least the syllabus and the whole first module of lectures/homework/tests at least in a semblance of order. I would be constantly changing my course material and finding new ways to deliver information to capture even more of my students learning styles. As a hinderance to my teaching, I will set the bar high for how I plan. In other words, I will be planning my courses to learn the maximum information and therefore must be able to show significant progress on a topic during the test. I can be creative in how the students demonstrate that level of knowledge, but I plan for most of the students to master the material.
On this second to last personality trait, I highlight my idea that I am inherently fair. I will (and my confidence say “can”) teach everyone anywhere with the same respect. It doesn’t matter if you are passing and sleeping or failing and sleeping; or asking a thousand questions to understand or staying silent and just Googling their questions when they get back to their dorm room. Each student has the ability to learn and it is my duty that I reach out to them to teach that information in a way that they will understand, even if that will create more work for me on the back end.
In order to combine those first four personality traits that I see as positive and beneficial to a career in higher education, there must be an understanding that not only are positive traits important, but negative ones as well. My biggest negative personality trait that will affect my teaching is that I am stubborn. Even now as I craft my blog post, I can see stubbornness in my musings on confidence and planning. (If you look at them, I know you can see it too.) going hand in hand with my confidence, I do have a tendency to see things narrowly and without variation. And I am not as well receptive to change from a normal routine or my plan for a certain situation. If I plan to cover a certain material in class, I will cover that material. I may move too fast or not be able to communicate the knowledge as effectively if I was flexible in my plan.
In conclusion, it may feel self centered or pompous, but during this process of defining our true teaching self, I encourage each of you to turn the light inwards and really try to divulge your personality traits, both positive and negative. This simple e recuse has given me great insight on how to be true to myself through my teaching as I will not feel as ready for this profession if I do not plan, and I know that my confidence will bring me the stage presence that is necessary to be the teacher in the classroom.