Show Another Side of You

Show Another Side of You

By: Yulia Kharchenko

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There is no denying 2021 was another year of barriers. Border closures, evening curfews, mask mandates, remote learning, online shopping—all served to distance and to keep us separate. Despite that, it was uplifting to see how families, friends, colleagues, teachers, and students across the world found ways to stay connected and be together.

In the second year of teaching online, I was particularly happy to see one barrier fall, and that is the separation between the teacher me and the parent me. Let’s face it, before 2020 we compartmentalized our private and professional lives. Today, I’m no longer anxious about my toddler bursting into the room in the middle of a tutorial. I let her join. She won’t stay long, she has more interesting projects going on, but we connect.

These brief visits serve another vital purpose—they connect me with my students. The teacher is human! Suddenly we are looking at each other’s children, puppies, and cats, talking about them, bonding as a class. What a wonderful sense of rapport.

"The teacher is human!"
Yulia Kharchenko
TT Author

We have long been told to bring our whole selves to work. And what is more authentic than letting your students get to know the other-than-teacher part of you? We’ve come a long way from the (in)famous BBC interview with Robert Kelly gatecrashed by his children. If your pets, kids or family walk into your online classroom, admit them, embrace them—and watch the conversation with your students unfold.

Yulia Kharchenko is a PhD candidate and a lecturer in TESOL at Macquarie University, as well as mum of two.

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