How Teaching Gets Less Scary

Ms. Cecilia
2 min readFeb 20, 2021
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

In my class on positive psychology, we discussed the idea of viewing ourselves as learners. Before I went to bed that night, I lay there thinking — teaching can be scary. You’re in front of a crowd all the time, you’re trying to explain often complex material, and the air conditioner is probably dysfunctional, so you’re probably sweating. It can be a little scary to wake up every morning and face that crowd. At least, it was for me.

Two ideas helped teaching get less scary and help me sink into it:

  1. I Stopped Viewing Myself as a Teacher

Students are still under debate whether teachers are allowed to make mistakes. My students told me last year that they don’t. When I countered and said that I did, they said, “Well, that’s you, Ms. Cecilia. You’re different.” (To say high schoolers can put all sorts of things into just a few words is an understatement. But I love them).

After my positive psychology class, I woke up and made a resolution to myself. I was not going to be a “teacher” today. I was going to be a learner. I taught my classes — all the way from little, squirmy kinders to big, squirmy middle schoolers — and I thought “What am I learning about this student right now? What am I learning about this group and how they learn? What did I learn about how this strategy works for these students?”

I had been thinking these questions anyway, but I had been getting confused with the supposed pressure of teaching. Viewing myself solely as a learner (while still instructing) took the pressure off of myself. I am able to be a better learner, a better teacher.

2. The Class Isn’t a Crowd, It’s a Community

When I first began teaching, I saw the teacher on a stage (a la, “sage on a stage.”) But as I became more familiar with the art of building class discussions, my students turned from members in the crowd to active participants in a discussion to, eventually, members of a community.

Viewing my students as members of a community rather than members in a crowd created a positive feedback loop — the more I saw them as part of a community, the more I built more relationships with them to help them become so. And all along, the more confident I became.

I wish you a more powerful, confident mindset.

Towards a better world that honors our students and their thinking,

Ms. Cecilia

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