What’s in a name?

When reading the materials for class this week, I began to ask myself “what sort of teacher am I”? Now, this isn’t a question I’ve ever sat and reflected upon before. I struggled to related the writings of Sarah Deel, Seymour Papert, and Shelli Fowler to my personal teaching persona because I never considered myself to have much experience teaching. By that, I mean I haven’t done much “traditional” teaching. The only “traditional” course I’ve ever taught  was a wines course just this past fall, and even then I wasn’t the main instructor. During my master’s program I taught  the odd lecture or seminars (related to extension activities) vs. regularly scheduled courses in a classroom. Additionally, I managed a lab where I taught undergraduate lab workers how to perform all lab activities and testing.

I guess I have yet to find my “teaching voice”. I do recognize that my “non-traditional” experiences are valuable, and there is much I can learn about myself from them. In fact, reflecting upon them has shed some light onto qualities I possess that will define my future teaching self. I think these qualities are best summed up by the fitting acronym E.L.I.Z.A.B.E.T.H. (aka my first name).


Earnest– I’m not distracted by things unrelated to my goals. If my goal is to educated my students, you can guarantee it’ll happen.
Laudable– This applies not to myself, but how I respond to those I teach. I’m great at providing feedback, and praise those who show they are making progress and/or an effort.
Imperfect– I will never claim to be perfect, so I don’t expect my students to be perfect either. I readily admit when I make mistakes or don’t understand something, and would like for my students to feel comfortable doing the same.
Zealous– I’m very enthusiastic and passionate about food science. That passion shines though when I’m instructing, and hopefully will inspire my students to take interest in the subject.
Attentive– I put a lot of thought and attention into everything I do, which I like to think will translate into the attention I will give to helping my students learn.
Bold– Fearless and daring. That’s how I’ve been in pursuit of an education and that’s how I want my students to be in my class. I want them to step out of their comfort zone, and take on challenges to better themselves.
Empowered– The support I’ve had from several key educators throughout my career has given me the confidence to succeed academically. I will strive to help my students feel empowered so they will have the opportunity to  achieve their full potential just as I have.
Tenacious– To achieve your goals, academic or otherwise, you have to be tenacious. I have always exhibited determination in pursuit of my academic goals, even when faced with adversity. I hope my experiences enable me to relate to my students’ struggles, and assist me in helping them overcome any adversity they may face.
Harmonious– Years of life in academia have taught me one thing: you need to have balance in your life or you’re going to be miserable and never succeed. I want my teaching to be harmonious, offering options that balance the needs of my students with the goals of the course. I want them to feel they are learning something valuable from my teaching just as I hope I can learn something valuable from them. If mutual learning is happening, I’ll consider my teaching voice to be in perfect sync.


4 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. In my opinion you aren’t giving yourself enough credit. These smaller things you have done sound like they have given you opportunities to work closely with students rather than in a more traditional I talk and you listen format. These more interpersonal activities are exactly what set us up to succeed one we are in a more traditional classroom setting, because they show us the value of direct interaction with our students.


  2. I do identify with your I, which happens to be the first letter of my name. Like you, I understand that everyone has flaws and my aim is to nullify the flaws of my students as much as I do, mine. In this era where everyone is seeking perfection, it is refreshing to see some others embracing their imperfections and working on them.


  3. I really love your idea of using an acronym with your name to “define” your teaching voice! It’s a perfect way to easily display what you personally bring to the classroom. My favorite were “imperfect” like previously commenters indicated, as well as empowered, laudable, and earnest. I’ve been reading a lot lately about the power of empowering students. I definitely think it’s something we need more of in professors as well as the other attributes you listed.


  4. I had this post marked as one to come back to when I had a good reply, as I really liked this post. It reminded me of this episode of the TV show 30 Rock, where Alec Baldwin’s character Jack Donaghy explains that he used his heart to make a decision. (HEART = Hard Equations And Rational Thinking.) It’s never not funny to me.

    In the spirit of sharing, here’s the acronym I came up with for myself:
    Real: I am my real self around my students, because I want them to feel comfortable being their real selves in my classroom. (See also: And in life!)
    Aware: I am aware that my students have different goals and needs with respect to writing instruction. (This means I do everything I can to help them meet their goals in the context of their own lives, not just my classroom.)
    Charmingly Self-Deprecating: I am charmingly self-deprecating because I’m always one to poke fun at my self to remind my students that no one is perfect, and that’s okay by me. (This one came from a student during my first round of student evaluations way-back-when.)
    Humorous: I am humorous, because a well-timed quip or comment during class is one of my favorite ways to reach students. (This is inspired by all the teachers I have had over the years; each one found ways to teach us to learn and to laugh, and sometimes how to do both at once.)
    Empowered: I am empowered by those who taught me in the past, and by the students I teach now, to share knowledge and help others. (I got this one from you; I think it’s an important one.)
    Loyal: I am loyal to the idea that we can all be lifelong learners (e.g. our ongoing self-education through the lives we live), to the focus of my discipline (e.g. effective communication), and to my students (e.g. supporting their goals and identities while pushing them to learn as much as they can).

    Thanks again for this post. I may have to make a post of this to share on my own blog.


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