Establishing an Effective Teaching Persona

What kind of persona do you want to project in your teaching?  Every teacher assumes certain positions or locations within the classroom and the university, and they call for careful thought.

Establish a Tone 

Your section description and syllabus already project a teaching persona, one you want to examine closely.  You should probably aim for a tone that is friendly, firm, and fair. The following questions will help you establish that tone:     

How will you refer to students?  Most instructors use first names, but some ask students about this issue.  Avoid class nicknames, since some students may be offended by them.

How do you want students to refer to you?  Many instructors sign responses and email messages with first names, only to be persistently referred to by students as “Professor” or “Dr.” Unless you have a strong preference to describe yourself as a graduate teaching assistant or lecturer, it’s most consistent with PWR terminology to use “instructor.”

How will your age, gender, race, ethnicity, and other aspects of your identity influence your teaching persona? Identity is a crucial element of all teaching lives (and student lives), so reflecting on aspects of identity and their relationship to your teaching persona is especially important.

How will your choice of demeanor, dress, and language affect student perception?  There are no rules to follow here, but students draw conclusions based on such characteristics all the time, and such conclusions affect your teaching environment.  In general, more formal clothing suggests authority and credibility.

How will your knowledge of rhetoric and writing and your theme relate to the persona you project?  These aspects will inform students’ responses to you, each other, and their work in your course–yet another reason why reflection and preparation are crucial to a successful class.

Further reading:

Schaberg, Christopher & Mark Yakich.  "How Should a Professor Be?" Inside Higher Ed. 2015 Sept. 2.  Web. 4 Jan. 2016.