Yesterday I was teaching a lesson and the goal of the lesson was to describe people’s personalities. One of the discussion questions was “Which person in your family are you most like?” Now, I have been a teacher long enough to know that that has the potential to be a really difficult question to understand and automatically launched into an explanation by giving my own answer as the example. “I’m most like my grandma because we’re both independent, a little stubborn, and quiet.”
Now, for the first two characteristics, my students were following along, but when I said that I was quiet, everyone, all fifteen of them, had the same shocked reaction of “What???” After a moment of confusion, I realized that the Rachael that they know is not the Rachael that I would describe myself as. So, I explained the the English teacher Rachael is a lot different than the normal life Rachael. They all laughed and then started their discussion groups. But while they were happily chatting about their families, I was mulling over the explanation that I had given them.
After much thought over the next few hours, I realized how true that statement really is. In all my teaching glory, I am actually a very loud, energetic, crazy, vivacious person. But I wouldn’t go so far as to describe myself in those terms in my everyday life. I think that most people would describe me as crazy, but I don’t think the other adjectives necessarily fit. Of course, ask my roommates, and you will get a whole other list of characteristics that might be more on par with my teaching persona. So, I continued thinking, why am I so different when I teach? Usually English teachers take two routes. Either they don’t change their personality whatsoever when they step into a classroom, or their original personality is just magnified. For me, neither really seems to be true. For the most part, I am a really laid back person. Not too much phases me, and I just tend to roll with the punches.
The real question that I have to ask is, ‘Where has this teaching personality come from?’ Is there some hidden personality inside of me that has lain dormant for years and finally has been given its freedom by my change in profession? If I stop teaching, will I eventually develop multiple personality disorder from trying to rebury this alter ego I’ve acquired? Psychiatrists would most likely say that I am repressing some hidden emotions or feel dominated by the personalities that surround me and feel no freedom to fully express my true Rachael. I think that there is a name for this kind of problem- the Wakefield disorder.
I feel like I’m my own Sweet Valley High twin. In real life, I am sweet, boring Elizabeth Wakefield who never causes ripples and plays by the rules. But in the classroom, my inner Jessica takes over and I become vibrant and full of life, if not a bit reckless and wild.
Perhaps, someday in the future, I will find a way to blend my two personalities, but for now I will just experience my Elizabeth and Jessica independently of one another. Maybe I should start changing my hair style and clothing depending on my teaching schedule for the week. Either way, I am going to be stuck with bad hair and clothes fit for the disco.