Who Am I When I Teach? 

Considering who and how you would like to be as an instructor is a critical step in developing your pedagogy. The version of yourself that you bring to class each day is known as your “teaching persona.” It is subject to change and will constantly evolve as you go through your teaching journey. In this workshop, we will work on developing this version of ourselves by examining our positionalities, who our students are, and how we can begin to build rapport with them.

This workshop was offered as part of the TLC’s 2023 Summer Institute.

This workshop took place in person during the TLC’s 2023 Summer Institute. The workshop and materials were developed by Chandni Tariq and Oriana Mejías Martínez.


All materials on this page and in the linked google folder are licensed under [a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) 4.0 International Public License.]

This folder contains the agenda for the workshop.

Materials Folder: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1FXY40sxClmXaqribzc3BFC9_JK6Vhwqw?usp=drive_link

Workshop Agenda

2:15PM – Part I – Introductions (5 minutes):

  1. Oriana and I introduce ourselves.
  2. Explain: A teaching persona is the person you are in the classroom. It changes over time and within different teaching contexts. There is a considerable amount of fluidity with your teaching persona.
  3. Ask attendees to share their (1) name, (2) their discipline, (3) what class they are teaching in the Fall, (4) their expectations for this workshop.

2:30PM – Part II – Educational Autobiography (25 minutes): 

1. Give out index cards and tell everyone that we are going to be writing up an educational autobiography by reflecting on the following prompts:

    • Reflect on the most memorable teachers you’ve ever had (positive or negative). What qualities did they possess? Why do you think these qualities worked for them or didn’t work for them?
    • What ways do you or do you not see this influencing how you see yourself as a teacher?

2. Think-Pair-Share their autobiographies. Then, we can come together as a larger group and share their insights.

3. Summarize: Recognizing our own experiences in conjunction with other people’s varied experiences is one step toward developing a critical consciousness. It is an awareness of social and political factors in shaping people’s lives when we come together in community. The importance of teaching persona is to build the classroom community that you want as best as you can and that can only come from self-reflection about yourself.

    • How their experiences in the past schooling got them to where they are today.
    • Try to putting on a persona that isnt yours.
    • Balancing authority between you and your students (how much knowledge is coming from you or the students).
    • Recognizing that you have the authority, whether you want it or not. Take the responsibility of the position you do have.
    • Flexibility for students

3:00PM Part III – Confronting Assumptions (20 minutes): 

  1. Give giant post-it notes with questions for them to answer in groups:
  • What makes a good student?
  • What makes a bad student?
  • What does learning look like?

2. Discuss. We all make assumptions about people. We especially make assumptions about our students that are informed by our prior educational backgrounds. (How much are you projecting onto them?)

3. So, let’s take a moment to reflect on the things we want our students to take away from our classes. Create a collective list on the chalkboard on our learning objective for our classes. (What can we control, what can we actualize, how do we manage our expectations)

4. Quote the handbook on page 11, under the importance of being “Context-Aware.” Context awareness is important for informing how you as the instructor come into the classroom each day. Collectively come up with a set of questions for us to consider context awareness.

5. Being aware of who your students are is essential to informing how you show up in the classroom and what your role is. So self-reflection, being open to self-reflection, being flexible, recognizing that this is your job and not who you are as your whole being is important. What students do, how they respond to you, it is not about you as a person. It’s about that professional front you put up in the classroom and it can help you remember that it is not personal.

3:20PM Part IV – Positionality (10 minutes):

  • We talked about developing a critical consciousness. We unpacked the assumptions we make. We recognized the things we want to achieve with our students. All of this relies on your ability to name your positionality and act on it. This whole workshop was meant to give you the tools to do that.
  • Give out Williams’ article on “radical honesty” and encourage them to read it and think about the first five minutes of their first class. Write out a script. What are you going to say? How are you going to set the tone for the rest of the semester? Are you going to create learning goals together? If so, how? How are you going to help your students achieve their goals? How do you know your students learn? How are you planning to seek student feedback?