Should a teacher encourage students to be themselves?

"Should." That's tricky, that's saying that I need to plan for this, and measure it.

People will usually be themselves, no matter what we do to or for them. Kids especially, because they are figuring out who they are and how they should "be," and so they change from moment to moment without really being conscious of what they are doing.

I find it more responsible to acknowledge kids being themselves, however that looks, while at the same time reminding them that they will have to "fit in" to certain parameters to be successful in the world, generally.

I tell them straight out that if they do certain things (like make eye contact, nod occasionally and take notes) that teachers will like them better and give them the benefit of the doubt.

I tell them that they need to behave in certain ways in certain environments (in the library, with elders, outside their own neighborhoods) and try to give them safe places to practice conventional behaviors, like the firm American handshake, or eating with a knife and fork.

They seldom believe what I tell them about this because words don't teach. Only experience teaches.

So yes, when I find a child who is faltering I do encourage him/her to "be themselves" by saying what they think or what they want. Some will, some won't. Everyone makes their own decision, because they are being themselves.


Yes, but at the same time teachers should encourage students to be their best selves. We all make many choices. Every day. Teachers should lead by example- by choosing kindness, courage, hard work, and crazy creativity. Some students will say, " That's not me." To which the teacher should reply, "That's not you... yet. You can choose to change. And don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise."


I'm not sure how to be anyone but myself. Therefore, how can I teach this? Yes, students should be encouraged to be themselves. That being said, being oneself includes learning skills like tact, gratitude and the sincere apology. If you are shy, maybe you send a note instead of telling them in person, but you still do it.

If students are young, or not so young, they may still be finding themselves (not in a trippy navel-gazing sense). Part of the encouraging should be considering that your future self might be different than what you think it is now.

4th grade me: "I never want to teach special education". Current me: As a substitute teacher, I taught English Language Learners and worked with several special ed students. Although a few of them are jerks, I think the percent who are great people just might be higher than the population in general. I have worked with various students with physical disabilities and other issues. I don't say "This isn't me"; although I have sometimes been uncomfortable, I've learned that I enjoy teaching this group.


Kids are a blank canvas. It's exciting to see them take shape, develop colorful personalities and explore the relationships of those colors to be mixed to create a new, more unique color. Encourage them to make mistakes on their canvas only to show them how they can start anew. A teacher should do nothing but encourage students to be themselves, this is how students feel safe and learn to love themselves. Without the respect of self, they won't learn from you. Encourage them to LOVE themselves.


This is one of those general questions that are sort of squishy. Yes, students should be encouraged to develop their own way of thinking and acting. However, that is not always the point of what is being taught. Should much time be spent in a math or physics class to encourage students to be themselves-or to learn how to do math or physics?


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