I was taking my five month old son for a walk in the stroller so he’d fall asleep. There was some nice chairs to sit on and soak up the sun so I sat down. It was nice and thought I’d take my phone out and take some pics. I took a selfie from a different perspective and ended up noticing something I’d never realized in my previous 33 years of life.
My nose was crooked.
I was shocked, kind of. I’d recently purchased a new set of glasses and they weren’t fitting that well. So much that I went back to the store and asked to have some help adjusting them. They did what they could. I’m not sure if they noticed my nose was crooked or just didn’t have the heart to tell me it was the reason the glasses weren’t fitting nicely.
Fast forward a few weeks and I’m teaching. Sixth grade. Not sure what class it was. I share the recent discovery that my nose was crooked and want to show them the proof. I get my phone out to take another picture from approximately the same angle but it didn’t do my nose any justice. I quickly found the original picture and walked around the classroom, showing each student my schnoz.
They loved it. They looked at the picture and then at my nose. Instantaneously there was laughing, smiling and some finger pointing. There was a split second where I took offense to the laughing, smiling and pointing. Students were getting a big ol’ kick out of my recently discovered imperfection.
It hurt for a nanosecond. It’s kinda crazy how quick it happened. Then I realized that I didn’t care and that I loved myself. Oh, and I’m aware of the impact I have on students and how they will potentially view themselves based on what I model in the classroom. Yes, I believe that’s the amount of impact teachers have if students view them as credible.
So, how does my crooked nose make me a better teacher?
It breaks down barriers.
It makes me more human.
It helps me become more relatable.
It proves that I’m flawed.
From my experience, students don’t listen to teachers they don’t like. Wait, let me rephrase that.
From my experience, the students that teachers actually need/want to listen don’t listen to teachers they don’t like.
It seems there’s always a good percentage of students that listen because they know they’re supposed to. I’m not talking about those students.
My crooked nose has everything, yet nothing, to do with me being a better teacher.
The fact that I’m willing to share a story about a flaw (one that I used to struggle with because I hated my nose growing up) with my students in the way that I did makes me more human than the majority of the teachers my students have had before me (it seems).
I become more relatable because, just like me when I was 12, my students already have preconceived notions of what beauty is by the subconscious programming we humans experience growing up in our society.
I admit (and showcase) my flaw, my journey of how I’ve come to love it, and take full responsibility for the process I’ve gone through to love myself for who I am.
It’s not my nose that makes me a better teacher.
It’s the fact that I’m willing to be vulnerable in front of students that are going through a vulnerable time of their own.