Lecture 4 and this time Prof A is looking at the Teacher Persona. Not sure about this lecture as some of what he says is good but some of it is quite old school.
He argues that teachers need to develop a teaching persona that is not necessarily the same as your normal persona and that you are to a certain extent playing a role as a teacher. As a teacher you are not a friend or a family member but a teacher and need to keep a certain distance from your students. Although you need to get to know your students this should be more intellectually than socially. He goes further saying that personal friendships with students shouldn't happen and in many instances are a form of professional misconduct. One of his interviewees talks about his early teaching career where as a young lecturer he wore the same sort of clothes he had done as student. The students just saw him another member of the class. When he began dressing differently, in his case in a tie, the students saw him differently and he was able to create his teacher persona.
Prof A continues by saying that you set the rules and are centre of attention. Here I think he is talking about old style formal mass lectures. In fact one of the people he interviews challenges this and says the only rule he has is mutual respect and that he doesn't like taking a parent role in the classroom. Prof A later tempers his ‘you are the centre of attention and set the rules’ argument by saying that it is perhaps more a situation of benign inequality. He spoils this a bit by then showing a clip where he enforces his no laptops rule and makes students print out the readings for the week. One student makes a reasonable argument that it’s slightly ironic to insist on paper printouts for class on the environment. He is then quite belittling of the student in his response saying that there a more trees in America now than there were in 1900. (A strange argument indeed! There may be more than in 1900 but surely there were more trees in America before 1492.) He said that he had resolved the situation with humour. Some might now call this banter but it looked like bullying to me.
Whilst I agree with the concept of the teacher persona, that you have a particular role to play and that you are not there to be friends with the students, I don’t agree with his you are in charge approach. In a previous language teaching role, in the first class one for the activities was for the class to set the rules of the class. Even though class after class produced the same things I might have suggested, they had created them, had ownership of them and made sure they kept to them in order for the class to run smoothly for all of us. It also got them speaking to each other in the target language and began developing a community within the class from the off.