Category Archives: The Teacher Is In

The Egotistical Teacher

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There is an art to teaching well. 

Despite the multitude of books and information out there about teaching well, there is a trait, I believe, that is integral in any good teacher. If you don’t have it, no book will be able to help. 

The teacher who does a good job teaching doesn’t just know her content, but is charismatic and personable as well. Just like an actor must connect with her audience, or a sales person must connect with her client, a teacher must connect with her students. 

But being charismatic and personable isn’t enough. 

To do this the teacher must be a bit of an egomaniac. Yes, that wasn’t a typo or mistake. 

The teacher must be an egomaniac. 

As a teacher, I have to be confident in my skin, willing to take on any comment or statement made in my presence, and still carry myself with an air of one unaffected by such comments. I have to know my worth and believe in my self-importance.  And for it to come across, I have to believe I’m integral to the growth and success of my students.  

It’s almost like acting. The good actor must believe that the fate of the show rests in their own hands- no matter how small the role may be. 

To be egoistical in the teaching profession, a teacher must always be ON. She must be charming, proud, and happy and, very importantly, look the part. She must be dressed to perfection every single day. The clothing a teacher wears is often more telling of the teacher’s person and confidence than the words she speaks. She must radiate this confidence in every aspect of her being: speech, looks, and interactions. 

I can’t stress enough how important image is. Students hold on to their prejudices much longer than anyone else I’ve met. Whenever they complain about a teacher, they start by expressing how annoying the teacher sounds (yes, I know we can’t “help” how we talk or what our voice sounds like), how ugly the teacher looks/dresses, and then finally say something about the actual subject being taught or way the class is run. In that exact order. 

Dressing professionally for work is a no brainier. And yet it feels that many teachers have missed the memo. Students aren’t going to give two shits about a teacher unless they respect her. And take her seriously. They have to look up to her. No one looks up to a person who looks like they’ve given up on themselves. 

Students can say mean things. Just like an audience can throw rotten tomatoes at an actor on stage (do they still do that?); students can be quite effective in making themselves heard via their back handed comments and criticism. This is where being egotistical is key in teaching. Many teachers may engage their students upon hearing these comments- validating the students’ power over the teacher and instilling their power, within the classroom, to derail the lesson or activity. However, by using egotism, a teacher can do away with much of these issues. She should not bat her gorgeous lashes at the comments and should instead appear above them. The comments are being made by incomplete human beings (we’re all in some stage of incompleteness theoughout out lives) and so they should not be given a second moment’s thought. 

Comments to “ignore” are ones about showing favoritism, anger towards the system, questioning the importance of education, commenting about the workload, grumbling about the subject, hating on the skill being taught, etc. 

I’m definitely not the teacher who thinks she’s better than her students, but I do believe I’m better than most other teachers. And this belief provides me with the power I need to keep a (mostly) smoothly running classroom. My students see me radiating my love and confidence for my profession and my love and confidence in them that they have no choice but to perform as expected within the four walls of my classroom. 

I’ve also noticed that if I “turn the other cheek” on the impossible-to-please students (or administration), my other (faithful) students often put them in their place by defending what I do and reasoning with them.  This has happened to me more times than I can count. 

Why take what they say to heart? They’re just saying it to get under our skin. Often, if I feel I need to address an issue with a student- such as an unacceptable comment or action- then I pull them aside later or ask them to talk to me in the hallway. However, I’ve had to do so less and less as students realize that they can’t get under my skin. I’m the adult. They’re the teen. I need to be more mature and more thick skinned, which means my backhanded comments and witty responses stay intact in my mind as I smile sweetly at the offender. 

Case and point: a good teacher must have an ego. 

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Purpose

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I started this blog hoping that I may be able to finally be open, honest and real. I’ve blogged for many years before under anonymity and it was easy. Now that I’m open about who I am, blogging has proven to be much harder than it once was. 

I truly believe that it is important to be open and honest about my experiences and past. I’ve lived too long in hypocracy that even now there are people who once “knew” me who refuse to believe my story. I guess we were that good at hiding our truth. 

What makes me special? Nothing. 

But I have a story to share and if my trials and tribulations, my past endurances and suffering could help one person who feels alone no longer feel lonely, then everything I’ve seen and done and lived through would not be in vain. 

Am I nieve? Yes, I may be idealistic in my views of what my life’s purpose may be. And that could possibly be one reason why I became a teacher- to try and help others navigate this big bad world we live in. Hopefully, my blog will be another tool in helping me help others.

Namaste. 

Mini-Memories

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Talking to my students brings so much insight to my life. They’re always so inquisitive and curious about what brought me to their school and how my life has turned out. 

This last week, I had them writing mini-memoirs. As is to be expected many students just looked at me and were like, “We don’t have anything to tell”. Which is obviously untrue. 

So I dug into my experiences to give them ideas. I told them about the video tape my dad made of my two older sisters waiting for me to be born. My mother was in the bedroom with the midwife and they were in the other room. There was a whiteboard on the wall with a few names scribbled on it in Arabic. One of those names was خلود Khuloud. And even though they were still deciding on what my name would be, they kept calling me by the name they eventually gave me. I like to believe that that was when my family started our tradition of all of us having a hand in deciding the name for the next baby. 

Or like the time I almost drowned when I jumped into the deep end of the swimming pool as a little kid. Or feeling like I was drowning when we were at the beach in Malaysia and my father kept throwing me into the salty ocean and scooping me back up again while everyone laughed and enjoyed the warmth and beauty of the day.

Or the time when I was hit by a motorcycle as my sister, our friend and I were crossing the road heading home. I remember coming to this road, looking both ways and noticing a lone motorcycle in the distance. It was a warm and sunny day and our friend had her bike with her. We decided it was safe to cross. And this is when everything gets hazy. I don’t know if I tripped and fell or if the motorcycle just hit me and then I fell. All I knew was that my face was smashed into the hard concrete and gravel ground. I was crying and the motorcycle was on top of me and then it was gone. I don’t remember hurting- my body was numb. My sister and friend lifted me up onto the bike and each grabbed one side of the handlebars, keeping me balanced between them as they ran to our house. I remember not being able to see infront of me. The tears made everything blurry. For some reason that is beyond my comprehension, I felt bad that they were pushing me and so I tried to use the peddle to help. I think my sister yelled at me to stop. 

In no time at all, we were home and I was lying on the floor of the living room. I think my mother decided to change my clothes, but I can’t be too sure. I swear I was above my body watching everything happen in a blur. Everyone was screaming but they were all muffled. My sister was telling them what happened. I don’t remember where our friend went. My father lifted me and put me in the back seat of the car and raced me to the hospital. 

I don’t think I broke anything, I was badly bruised and needed stitches and a cast on my leg. I don’t know how long it took for me to heal. The last thing I remember is being in the car going to the hospital. Everything after is a black void in my memory. I could easily have misremembered the details, I was only five or so years old. 

How did we get off topic? The point was to get my students to write about themselves. The point wasn’t so that I could captivate them with my own stories. But sometimes it is important to go somewhat off topic. To make yourself human in front of your students. To captivate them with your stories. I like to believe my honesty and opennes helps them trust me and open up to me. 

It’s difficult to ask students who lead rough lives to share their stories with us. They often don’t want to share their truths even if I’m the only one reading it. I believe building a relationship of trust and honesty helps make it easier. 

Reliving my experiences helps me appreciate the life I’ve lead and who I have become because of my unique encounters. It also reminds me that my students are currently experiencing encounters and events that will forever shape who they will become. And I pray everyday that the time they spend with me are timrs that have a lasting and positive effect on who they grow up to become.