This post was written by a College of Education graduate student, Abigail Streibig.

What does living authentically mean to you?

I believe that living a completely authentic life can be difficult for many of us, and I think this may be especially true for teachers. Politics, religion, and other belief systems are often polarized in our society, and sharing our personal truths related to these topics can easily lead to conflict. Conflict can make people feel uncomfortable and un-safe, the opposite of how teachers want students to feel at school. For this reason, I understand why teachers are discouraged from sharing their social, political, and religious beliefs in the classroom.

However, I have an even greater appreciation for the importance of teachers living authentically after reading One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium (Jennings, 2015). Many of the writers who contribute their stories to this book speak directly about the myriad of benefits they experienced after sharing their personal truths with their students and colleagues. My favorite examples include:

  • Andrea Fazel – “I remember feeling instantly lighter and younger. More free. I felt comfortable letting my authentic personality come through… For the first time, I was able to let go and just focus on teaching.” (pg. 49)
  • Ileana Jimenez – “I know now that it’s important to live an authentic life in order to be an authentic teacher.” (pg. 111)
  • Rodney Glasgow – “I could have avoided a lot of conflict… But my authenticity resonated with students, and they found a lot of solace and joy in connecting with an adult who wasn’t afraid to be himself.” (pg. 173)

Despite the fact that teachers may face obstacles to living authentically in their classrooms, I believe the benefits out-weigh the challenges. What aspect of your true self could you begin to share more openly to connect with others?

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