redsnake05: Art by Audrey Kawasaki (Subversive teaching)
[personal profile] redsnake05 posting in [community profile] teaching
I used to have an icon on LJ that said "Do I look like a motherfucking role model?", and it was an awesome icon. I don't have it here (which I might rectify later), but I do have the concept still, of why would I want to be a role model?

Two teaching-specific reasons that I have thought of this week:

1. I have a non-traditional family structure, in that my daughter lives with her father, but I am friends with him and there is (minimal) fighting and animosity. Many of my female students, in particular, come back to this point again and again - how can I not be the full-time parent of my child? Even when I point out that I work full-time but my ex is a full-time parent, or that he is more patient and better at tree-climbing/story-telling/castle-building, they still have this deep assumption about the mother being the main parent. I like to think I am doing my bit for undermining gender roles.

2. I'm out at school. I'm bisexual, or 'half-gay' as one of my students charmingly puts it. No one really cares, not the students or my colleagues, or the school's administration. It's just the way it is, and no one cares. But it gives students who are queer, or questioning, the definite proof that being gay is not the end of the world.

So, this week, I have come up against both of these aspects of being a role model. Everytime, I have to stop and think about being a role model, and make sure it's a positive thing. Am I encouraging diversity and respect through my modelling? Sometimes, I worry about the responsibility.

Do other teachers sometimes struggle with being a good role model? Do you make conscious decisions about what sort of role model you're going to be? How do you do that? Some of you, I know, work in places where being a teacher is much, much more hedged in and you have less freedom than I do. How do you deal with that?
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