Well, it definitely can be! Today as I was standing in the hallway greeting my students as they came to class, I commented on a student's haircut. Another student, who I don't have in class, immediately responded with, "She seems like a cool teacher," and I was a little embarrassed. Not because I don't want to be seen as a caring, engaging, passionate educator, but because I don't want to be pigeon-holed simply as a "cool" teacher.
I love what I teach, and I love my students, but sometimes I worry that I am not strict enough, don't expect enough, and don't have enough control. If students really perceived these expectations and rules in my classroom, then they wouldn't see me as "cool." Or would they? Can I still be "cool" with these practices in place in my classroom? Maybe I can, but when I was in high school I never would have said that my "cool" teachers were strict, always had control, or had high expectations. Those labels were reserved for my BEST teachers, not my FAVORITE teachers.
I struggle with this because I don't want to be the "cool" teacher or someone's "favorite" because they can goof around, have fun all the time, or get by with doing very little work in my classes. I want to be the teacher that they know has high expectations, doesn't put up with messing around, but still promotes a lively classroom climate. Above all, I want my kids to realize that I have high expectations for their behavior, actions, and work, which all stems from them putting forth effort each and every day.
As a teacher with a whole three months of experience, maybe this goal is too lofty. Maybe I shouldn't be worried about it. But I am, and I honestly think that it's worth my time, effort, and energy to worry about it because it really does matters. My students are the reason that I am in education, and they should be the reason that I set goals and want to become a better teacher.
So here's to setting high expectations and creating an exciting, yet controlled learning environment. As Karl Menninger once said, "What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches." In other words, here's to becoming the new and improved "cool" teacher; the teacher who is more concerned with how and why I teach and what is best for my students.