Confidence, Clarity, and Concern: Developing an Effective Teaching Persona
Critical to an instructor’s ability to confidently, clearly, and effectively communicate with students is an understanding of the truism that communication begins with the self (Watzlawick et al., 1967). To engage in productive interactions that result in student learning, we must be broadly but simultaneously acutely aware of ourselves and how we want our students to view us generally and in specific situations common to our work. Some instructors are strategic and goal-directed in terms of how they wish their students to perceive them—testing various personas to determine the type of teacher they want to be. Others may give little thought to the nature of their communication with students, relying instead on their content expertise or pedagogical strategies to promote student learning. The latter approach may not serve the instructional process well, as extensive research suggests that our relationships and communication with students play a central role in their learning. An exclusive focus on expertise and pedagogical frameworks is shortsighted since it ignores the importance of communication to teaching and learning.