This week we discussed the idea of "professionalism" and how it relates to fostering student (and mentor) success.
To begin the meeting, we talked about past mentors that we regarded as our "favorite" professors. As each person described their pick, a mental portrait was painted in my head, and I felt as if I knew these teachers I had never met. It seemed that every professor shared certain qualities (like being knowledgeable about their field and being able to convey material effectively) but were extremely unique as well. This lead into discussion about "the ideal professor."
Like most topics discussed in great detail, we concluded that promoting "professionalism" is not so black and white. It largely seems to deal with conducting oneself in a way that allows for balance between being a leader and friend to one's students. There are definitely some surefire practices that every teacher should follow like staying up to date with what's happening in your field, wearing appropriate attire, being punctual, and conveying enthusiasm. But, "the most effective way to teach" seems to be an oxymoron. There are a thousand different ways to run a classroom, and none of theme have to be wrong (though live bears in the class is probably frowned upon). We ultimately realized that the best teachers are the ones that play off their own personalities and strengths rather than sticking to a defined script. Adaptability is necessary, but if you're trying to be someone your not, you're less likely to accomplish your goal (which is probably a true statement in more ways than just teaching). My charge for the closure of the meeting was for each person to find out who they really are. Knowing this could ultimately yield insight into how you could more effectively teach and interact with students.