CREATING A DYNAMIC & POSITIVE PERSONA
Every teacher has their bag of tricks to get students to perk up and pay attention. It’s the little voices you do, or a silly gesture to get a giggle… but it’s also those leadership moments that are a call to action and attention for your unruly littles. If you’ve been a teacher for a while you’re probably going through your tricks in your head right now. If you’re new to this, don’t worry, this concept is going to be your bread and butter soon.
These little games and voices are for more than just maintaining proper class structure. We know as educators that broad gestures, big facial expressions, and a dynamic persona create stronger levels of engagement with children and, thus, a more engaging class. We also know that when there is more engagement that kids learn faster and retain material longer. So the purpose of a funny accent isn’t just about making a kid giggle, it’s about teaching a better class.
The best teachers wrap all their tricks and voices into a warm persona that is a lovable, child appealing version of themselves. I call this concept the “Teacher’s Mask”.
It’s the character we become to help us maintain discipline in class while also developing authentic relationships. My mask has a name. I call mine “the False Sensei”: a whimsical, militaristic leader who intentionally falls on his face to get a laugh from five-year-olds. He is the culmination of all the teachers in my life and he allows me to be firm and funny at the same time. He really helps me teach my NINJA MONKEY classes, so more on him in a future blog…
Every teacher should strive to create their own teaching persona, big or small, that they cultivate and deepen over time. As you look to develop yours here are some pointers to keep in mind:
Don’t try to wear another coach’s mask… it won’t fit! Make your own, but STEAL IDEAS from everyone around you and tweak them to work with your character. Maybe they have a phrase you like, or maybe they have preschoolers sit on their hands when they listen, or pretend to be sharks when they cross the gym. Grab those ideas but utilize them YOUR way.
These character’s should be a genuine extension of yourself, an exaggeration of your quirks and silliness. Do you love pirates? Start with a pirate! Do you love animals? Maybe everything you do is animal themed… If it’s fun for you then it’ll be fun for the kids.
Every Mask should have two sides, a silly and a serious. The silly breaks the ice and gains trust, while the serious sets expectations and holds kids accountable for their behavior and their growth.
If you are new to teaching, or are just starting to see it as a real career, start looking around your work space and identifying other teacher’s masks. Think about what tricks are being used to generate engagement in a class, and really look at each teacher’s approach to the silly and serious. Finding your mask might take a while, so be patient and know that your character is just going to get more awesome over time.