Discovering Your Authentic Teaching Self

My first attempt to teach dates to my first grade when the teacher asked me to help a student -who had been retained- with an assignment. While trying to share what I knew and focusing on conveying it, I thought that I was also learning better with that review, and we did our assignments together. I continued helping my classmate for the whole year. We were reviewing the course, doing the assignments, and sometimes coming to my place to finishing the studies. We realized that we were neighbors; she was living in an old hotel in our neighborhood, temporarily converted into a dorm sheltering the people who had to leave their homes in a southern city in Iran during the post-Iran-Iraq war years. That abrupt compulsory emigration with losing family members and coming to a big new city where she knew no one and all when she had been entering the school years led to focusing issues and a high level of anxiety.

Image result for دبستان گیو تهران
my elementary school, so happy to see that the building is maintained as it used to be.

The little teaching experience turned into a friendship bonding and helped me improve and deepen my understanding of what I learned. That bonding helped my friend focus better and motivated her to give the learning process a try. She finished the first grade successfully, and her family had to move to another place. Although I never saw her again, the precious experience is always in my mind.

After years of being a student and having more teaching experience at different levels, I think the dialectic nature of teaching and the teacher’s personality is the most influential factors in teaching. A successful teacher can encourage the student to remain motivated and resilient, inquire, understand, and enjoy the learning process. For that, the student also needs to like the teacher’s personality, an encouraging and inspiring person. Unless the teacher is a great actor or actress, she/he needs to know the art of inspiring and interacting with youths, which sometimes requires indirect yet clear communication. A one who comes to the class on time, respects the students, with a friendly attitude and some disciplines, engages the students in interesting conversations about the topic, and influences them to think of more intriguing questions.

rehearsing in a similar class to where I would teach as an instructor at Georgia Tech

In architectural design, where questions have interdisciplinary nature, pedagogy becomes more complex: helping to externalize spatial ideas built upon a specific and/or philosophical view into geometrical and material expressions is a non-linear multi-facet process. It requires ideas synthesizing with the context, human needs, spatial qualities, technology, and materiality and a broad and informed view to the future. Being a teacher in this area when advances in technologies try to impact the design studio culture is challenging yet powerful. I think the human aspect of teaching creates a responsibility and, at the same time, an opportunity to nurture and build a foundation for self-discovery.


One reply to “Discovering Your Authentic Teaching Self

  1. Thank you Sara for pointing out your own experience. I agree that as students, teaching is the best way to save knowledge. Human interaction between professors and students became more critical in architectural pedagogy, because they are not anymore meeting face to face. In architecture as you know we involve a qualitative aspect in the design process such as when we have an idea and trying to make it an object (physical model or drawing). Some student shows sequential sketches on translucent paper to express their ideas. These days I found people have new ways in presenting their work such as video etc. which is a great benefit from the current pandemic.


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