Today I began teaching my new advanced writing classes. I remember what a mentor told me nearly two decades ago: Great teaching is love of subject, love of student.
I am so thankful for this wise advice.
I also remembered all the terrible advice I received in the early days of learning to teach well. The words echoed in my mind as I walked in the rain to my new classroom.
Terrible piece of advice #1: Never go early. Whatever you do, don’t go to class early. You’ll just sit there looking at students. You’ll have nothing to say to one another. Never go early.
I go early. I talk to students. That’s when I learn about their lives.
Terrible piece of advice #2: Develop a teaching persona. Teaching is a performance. Find the persona. It’s not you, it’s the teaching persona.
I bring myself. There’s no persona. There’s no act.
I heard from an instructor who told me that he was told to “turn himself off” to be a good instructor. He could be anyone else, just not himself.
I realized that so much of our teacher training, at least at the college level, involves distancing the professor from the student; you create professional business transactions where you hide yourself, never share your life, and perform the task of transferring information.
And, whatever you do, you never go early.