Familiar Risk-Taking Turf
In a recent blog post, we wrote about some of the risks that teachers often deliberate about taking IN their classrooms. Risks in ways to teach a concept or present a lesson are risks that feel familiar to many teachers. It’s also fairly safe. As a teacher, if you opt to teach a concept in a new way and it doesn’t work, you can quickly rectify the situation with your students and make a fast course correction without causing too many waves.
Even if others, including your students, recognize that you took a teaching risk that didn’t work, the experience can become a rich, teachable moment. When teachers share with students that risks don’t always work out the first time, teachers can often teach a life lesson that extends far beyond the day’s curricular focus. Most teachers are not only willing to do this sort of risk-taking; they often relish the outgrowths of such risks—wonderful teaching experiences.
Taking on Intimidating Risks
When it comes to their students, most teachers want to do whatever they can to help “their kids flourish.” This might mean writing a brand new lesson customized to a particular group of students. It might involve asking for support from the community, or even reaching into their own pockets to buy supplies or even a winter coat. When it comes to kids, most teachers are eager to do all they can.
As we researched this topic of teachers and risk-taking, we realized that some risks are much harder for teachers to embrace. We found that many teachers aren’t as confident when it comes to taking a risk with enhancing their own image as a teacher. Some teachers tell us they rarely think about their image. Others share that they think about it, but don’t know where to begin. Still others say that they’d “like to look like those confident teachers on television,” but there just isn’t time, money, or bandwidth for such things.
Building Your Persona as a Teacher
Building your persona as a teacher is one risk that can reach far beyond your classroom. It can significantly impact how others perceive you—and your ideas.
How you present yourself to the families, faculty, peers, and administrators could have an extremely positive impact on your career. When others see you as a strong, committed, and innovative educator, when you decide to take in-class risks, these ideas are more likely to be met with positive support when you have created a powerful, positive teaching persona.
A Great Image Begins with a Smile
As a teacher, you will undoubtedly encounter many people each day, either in person or in a virtual community. Each of these people has the potential ability to impact you professionally. You can enhance your teaching persona and image by simply doing the basics—having a bright smile, making eye contact, and keeping strong, upright posture. We coach kids to be a friend to make a friend, to give a smile to receive one in return, and to put their best foot forward. The same is true for educators.
The Right Tools Help Shape a Great Look
The time is fast approaching to begin to plan your return to school this year. You will no doubt be reaching into your own pocket to augment your provided classroom supplies with the little extras that make a difference to you. Perhaps you buy your own box of glue dots to tuck away in a drawer, or a set of colorful folders, or a much-desired book for your classroom library. If you are like most teachers, you’ll do all you can to make such purchases for your class.
What about making a few smart and key accessories for yourself? If the choices you make will help to elevate your persona as a teacher and educator, these accessories are wise investments. As a teacher, you face many challenges that require you to be your best and feel sure of yourself. Building a professional persona is all about the details. Make sure everything about your persona, including your accessories, feed into the persona you want to build for yourself.
Consider a snazzy tote or a ceramic coffee mug. Perhaps an accessory with a message that signals to others that you do this job because, “It’s all about the kids.” Check out these awesome and reasonably priced teacher accessories from Teacher Peach’s online store, teacherpeach.com. Browse through the totes, journals, and other products designed for your profession.
Want to focus more on your students? Check out the Awesome and Amazing Really Cool Tools for Back to School. For an even more economical addition to your classroom, consider adding a few fidgets and stress balls to set a tone and send a message that you strive to help your classroom to be a relaxed learning environment.
No matter what accessories you ultimately choose, it’s so important to heighten your own awareness of the powerful impact your persona has on your role as a professional. We’d love to know how you approach each new school year, what you do to build your persona as a teacher, and what accessories you have that help build your persona. In the coming days, we’ll dig more deeply into some easy-to-integrate image strategies in Part 2 of this post.