Emotions of Teaching

FEAR by Kevin B 3, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Kevin B 3 

Emotions. Emotions. Emotions.

I think back to the very first time I taught in higher ed.  Although I had many, many teaching opportunities throughout  my life, even in higher ed, most were either one day, week long, or other varieties.  The first time in my own full semester classroom was in 2008 teaching Business Entrepreneurship.

I spent hours upon hours preparing starting in October for my class beginning late January. I was excited, nervous, anxious, and sometimes downright scared!  The first evening that I walked into the classroom, I had dry mouth, jittery stomach, and rapid heartbeat.  I was really excited about the class, the teaching aspect, the students, the topic…and yet I had a difficult time calming my nerves.

Before Class. Fast forward to present day. I had some of these very same emotions yesterday afternoon as I thought about the lesson for that evening’s class, the potential challenges and “chaos” that can happen with a mobile lesson, and add to that the fact that I was being observed by a colleague in my department.  I felt much like I did that very ‘first day’.  Come to think of it, I was downright scared!  I gave my self a ‘talk’ just like I share with my public speaking students. I tried some of the different techniques that I encourage my students to try to help calm  their nerves before/during their speeches.

Here are some of my favorite strategies:

  1. Prepare/practice
  2. Visualize/breathe success
  3. Realize that no one can see your nervousness
  4. Expect that mistakes
  5. Supportive environment
  6. Take a brisk walk right before
  7. Squeeze your fingers/toes
  8. Isolate your tense parts and focus on relaxing
  9. Positive talk

During Class.  I felt that I began last night’s lesson with a bit of a fast pace (one of my nervous habits is talking fast).  Though, somewhere within the first 5-10 minutes I got so excited about the mobile lesson that  I felt like the students could feel it, too.  By then, I was so caught up in excitement that anxiety was long gone. And later, my colleague’s observation report said just that; she could feel the excitement and passion!

A peek at one team’s mobile lesson on Motivational Appeals

After Class. I drove home, reflecting upon the class session and felt really good about the fact that my anxiety was in a way a part of the passion that was woven into the lesson. I felt great! I thought about the reflective piece that we had at the end of the class and remember students thanking me for allowing them to do this activity – wow! It definitely brought much camaraderie to the students and I felt their energy and warmth.  I am blessed with a wonderful group of students!

As I was thinking back over this experience, it reminded me of a recent blog post,  Preparing to Teach for the First Time, where author Ruth Fillery-Travis notes the emotional roller coaster of teaching for the first time. She states, “To be honest, even after a couple of terms it sometimes feels like every time you have to teach a new session you’re right back at the start again.” I concur!  My first day each semester starts out like it was the first time I have ever taught. I believe that if I did not have these emotions, my teaching may not reflect the passion anymore…

 

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