Each instructor has a unique identity that reflects their personality, background, teaching practices, and classroom demeanor. It is impossible to divorce an instructor’s identity from their role in the classroom; rather, teachers’ identities contribute strongly to classroom dynamics and learning experiences for their students.
As an instructor, I try to treat my relationship with my students throughout the semester as a collaboration. Although there are undeniable power dynamics that affect student-teacher relationships, I encourage my students to think of me as a peer as well as their instructor. My rationale in doing so is to encourage open lines of communication between myself and my students; I frequently ask students how they feel the class is going and ways in which it could be improved. By diminishing the power dynamic in the classroom, I encourage my students to speak openly and frankly about their classroom experience. While I have found this approach to be effective in promoting a safe intellectual environment for students to express their thoughts and ideas, I maintain that instructors still need to maintain an element of authority when navigating the classroom. Striking this balance is something I am still striving to improve.