Almost every student teacher and new teacher name their first concern as ‘classroom management.’ In the last few years, another term has entered the dialogue–teacher presence.
The underlying question is how do you get and keep kids’ attention, provide opportunities for them to do what is natural for humans beings–eg talk, move, think, create–without defaulting to power that you may not really know how to exert?
Through practice and reflection, you can find who you can be in the classroom that will hold the attention of the young people in the room with you. For some, it is performance charisma. For others, it is structure and activities. Drawing on why you teach, what you love about being with kids learning, what you care about, you find strength from your convictions and beliefs. Authenticity and confidence are the base of powerful presence. When you can be who you really are, you find confidence.
Questions to consider in finding your presence, your voice, your authenticity and inner powerful teacher:
What works for you? What was a time you were excited to learn? Was it something you could see the practical application? Was it something that addressed your hopes and dreams? Was it something that was engaging, fun, felt good? Was it clear and organized so you could follow it? (adaptation of 4 corners/compass activity)
How you learn and then what you want to learn. What do your students need you to learn? What is keeping you up at night?
Ten years from now, what do you want a student to come back and say they remember about being in your class?
What makes you interested in teaching every day?
What is your strength that makes your classroom or teaching work? What students do you best serve?
Find and use your brilliance. As a teacher, I know there are certain things I do when I enter a classroom that happen automatically like riding a bike. I know I have to work hard at giving directions. I play to my strength and compensate for my weakness.
For me, my strength comes from the belief I have in every person’s unique capacity for brilliance. I am sure there a spark in every child to learn and grow. I am interested in how they will hear, see, think, understand, imagine, synthesize. They respond to my sincere interest in them, even if it starts small with some understandably highly disengaged older kids. Even they rarely turn away from someone’s sincere interest in their thinking.