“Ego” is one of those words that has a very different connotation outside the Waldorf school than it does within the movement.
One day soon I’ll write a post explaining the different bodies of the human being, as the ego (the subject of this post) is the highest of these bodies. Until then, read this fabulous post by Carrie at the Parenting Passageway.
For now, know that when I speak about teaching with my ego I don’t mean that I’m going to walk into the classroom thinking I’m God’s gift to education.
What I do mean is that when I walk into the classroom, when I stand before my students, I strive to present them with my highest self. I want them to see, feel and experience the part of me that is captain of the ship, fully aware of them, myself and social dynamics among the group. They need to know that I have a plan, that I know what is best for them and that I am ensuring that they get it.
Now, there is a very strong impulse, especially with older students, to let your guard down. We want to relate with them in a genuine way without pretense. They can be pleasant companions and we’d love to just hang out with them. The trick to teaching with ego, then, is to know how to do it all at the same time. Can I enjoy their company, relate with them in a genuine way and still let them know that I am the captain of the ship? If I can’t manage to do both, which is more important? We teachers need to know that we don’t need to be our students’ friends. We do need to guide them with a strong sense of self.
This was a lesson that I had to learn — the hard way. And even now, there are moments when I find myself enjoying my students so much that I am tempted to relate with them on a different level. But I am so grateful that I can now recognize that impulse in myself and I know what it looks like to teach without a strong ego presence. Experience is a wonderful thing.