Crafting a Teaching Persona

By Sandy Chapman

As instructors know, or come to discover, the art and profession of teaching requires not only wisdom, knowledge, and expertise, it requires the adoption of a teaching persona—an image the instructor presents to the classroom audience. We all have different personae for different occasions. We wear a different face with our family, colleagues, and students. So, what is an appropriate teaching face? In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled "Crafting a Teaching Persona," James M. Lang comments on this topic and reviews two books—Elaine Showalter's Teaching Literature and Jay Parini's The Art of Teaching—both of which address this topic.

Showalter believes one should allow one's true self, personal beliefs, and passion for one's discipline to emanate through one's teaching persona, since this self-exposure might serve to encourage students to be more genuine in their own responses—something that might be desirable in the humanities, especially. Panini urges instructors to reflect on their persona as a deliberate choice like a changing theatrical mask (for the word persona has roots in ancient theater).

Lang suggests that, while too much self-reflection is probably unrealistic, the choices instructors make about how they represent themselves to students could have an impact on the motivation of those students to learn.

For the complete article, go to Crafting a Teaching Persona by James M. Lang. (James M. Lang is an associate professor of English at Assumption College.)

Sources:

Lang, J. M. (2007). Crafting a Teaching Persona. In The Chronicle of Higher Education (Careers Section). Retrieved August 8, 2007 from http://chronicle.com/article/Crafting-a-Teaching-Persona/46671