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I believe in “Keeping it 100%, (one hunnit),” ALL of the time. Would you agree that it’s not always easy do though? Okay, let me take a step back. What does “Keepin’ it one hunnit” mean? According to a few definitions from Urban Dictionary it means:
- “To keep yourself real and true, to be honest and stick to the way you are, no matter what any one else thinks.”
- “To tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. AKA “Keep it Real” or be honest with yourself as well as others.”
- “Keep it pure.”
I remember “Keepin’ it real” so much that a parent of one of my former students just had
to meet me! She could not believe what her daughter was saying about me at home. Back in 2009-2010, I used to love this show called “The Game” that starred Tia Mowry of Sister, Sister and Pooch Hall. Pooch played Derwin who was a professional athlete in the show. Tia played Melanie, his significant other. Derwin always said “Dueces” which means goodbye, and “That’s what’s up!” which is a compliment similar to good-job, but better. A few of my students watched the show, which made it easy for me to incorporate these phrases into my daily language and communication with them. This wasn’t done intentionally. It just worked. A group of students would be working well together by getting along, being on task, using quiet voices, and staying focused, and I would walk over to them, and say, “That’s what’s up, ya’ll! You’re on task and using your time wisely to complete the assignment.” I’d give them a high five, say “Deuces!” and put up two fingers, and walk away. They would laugh, smile, or say deuces back and continue doing what they were supposed to be doing. The young lady that told her mother I used these phrases and loved the show, loved every minute of it, but her mother felt differently. She showed up on parent-teacher conferences confused and upset. In a nutshell, she thought I was “ghetto” or uneducated and thought I was being inappropriate for using such phrases with the students. However, once she met me, and got to know me, we laughed, and she understood why her daughter talked about me so much at home. The mother learned to appreciate the fact that I stayed true to myself, and opened doors of communication for the students and I to relate to each other. She also appreciated how fond her daughter was of me. “I was different. I was her favorite teacher,” she said.
With that folks, I bring you Day 10 of the “What is a R.E.N.E.W.E.D. T.E.A.C.H.E.R.? Series” which focuses on being authentic.
As RenewED Teachers, we should ALWAYS strive to be:
This means that we should be bold, courageous, and fearless in addition to also being candid, true to and consistent of ourselves, and caring of content and people while teaching and learning.
Why We Should Be Audaciously Authentic
The word authentic is everywhere! We are required to have authentic assessments, use authentic/prime resources, create or use authentic math tasks, provide students with authentic readings they can relate to, as well as build authentic relationships with them and their families. I don’t see anything wrong with this. If everything else has to be authentic, I feel we should be authentic educators and human beings as well.
While the word authentic could lose it’s zest because it’s overused, the fact remains that we should simply be real, honest, truthful, and be ourselves while striving to become better over time. Teachers are not Gods, nor are we superheroes. Even though we do save some lives sometimes, teachers are not mystical beings, and should not pretend be something we are not, or fake. Period. We are human beings that have feelings and emotions similar to the students we teach and people we work with on a daily basis. Teachers should be legit…”Too legit to quit!” (Okay, I couldn’t resist). Students value this, and let’s face it, while we sometimes have to fake the funk to make it through a day or two or more, it is more fun be ourselves and to be direct and honest, but also compassionate.
According to Science Daily, in an article titled, “Authentic Teachers are Better [at] Engaging With Their Students,” the research “indicated that authentic teachers were seen as approachable, passionate, attentive, capable, and knowledgeable, while inauthentic teachers were viewed as unapproachable, lacking passion, inattentive, incapable, and disrespectful.” Which teacher would you rather be?
While the study focused on [about] 300 college students, I am sure many of us can attest that regardless of the level we teach, when we are more authentic with our students, the relationships we develop and the learning that occurs in our classrooms and perhaps outside of them, is stronger and full of impact.
Being Authentic is About Knowing and Accepting Who We Are
During my sophomore or junior year of college, I was a member of a program called Emerging Leaders. One of the sessions had us describe our personality as either introverted or extroverted. I knew I was introverted! Although I was outspoken, I enjoyed time to myself, always read on the bus to and from class, had my headphones on to avoid being in non-productive conversations, I mean it was a no brainer. I was an introvert. However, as I pleaded my case, the students in the program, who had only known me for about about 2 weeks, ALL disagreed with me. The entire class looked at me as if I were crazy! So I changed my answer to extrovert. I mean it fit too! I did love to talk, had tons of interests, was pretty open, and people described me as friendly and nice. I guess I was an extrovert after all! Had I known about ambiverts then, the answer I would have used to describe myself would have been perfect.
In order to “Keep it 100;” in order to be audaciously authentic, we really need to know ourselves. David Grossman from yourthoughtpartner.com says, “Leading authentically isn’t about being like someone else. Instead, it’s about knowing yourself and being who you are.” At 19-20 years old, I obviously had no clue who I was. I couldn’t definitively decide if I was an introvert or an extrovert. I was still in the discovery phase. (I believe that I still am in that phase today.) I was loud, boisterous, and outgoing, but also enjoyed alone time. However, I was sometimes told to calm down, or told I was too loud (by family and very close friends), and sadly, I did…for a brief moment. Because of this, I had a slight identity crisis. I tried to fit the mold of what others expected of me, but could not stop being who I was. I now accept who I am, and I am unapologetic about it. I am, who I am. This works for me in and out of my classroom because I am comfortable in the skin I am in. But I am always willing to grow and become better than I am.
Being audaciously authentic may look different for all of us. It certainly can be frightening though, right!? It is scary to show who we really are because we are afraid of what others will think and say. On Day 8 of this series, “Try New Things,” I discussed some new things I tried in my classroom. Creating songs and then performing them in front of a room full of students filled of judgment and looks of awe took great courage. Writing about it and sharing the experience on my blog was even more fearless!
Regardless of whether you are an introvert, extrovert, or an ambivert, we all must discover who we are and accept it. If we are uncomfortable in our own skin, how can we expect our students, their families, and colleagues to accept us for who we are and further trust that they can learn with us and from us?
Authenticity is key. So go ahead and have the audacity to be.
As we continue to learn and grow together, please share whether you an an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert. Let this be the beginning of you becoming audaciously authentic! If you are not sure which idea describes you best, here are two quizzes to choose from:
Here are my results (you can read them on your own):
Until then, Happy Teaching!
Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher