Bringing Your Whole Self To Teaching: Self-Disclosure and Vulnerability

by: Ed Brantmeier

Sharing elements of your life story with your students to deepen their learning and to model positive self-reflection is tricky business given the interpersonal boundaries typical of student and teacher relationships. We will explore those boundaries with some assumptions, guidelines, and ways of applying concepts of vulnerability in positive ways to create openings for deep learning in your classroom. In conversation about our workshop, Art Dean relayed, “Being vulnerable is bringing your whole self to the table….” As diversity educators, Art and I discussed that when we share our story, we admit we fail, and when we do not pretend we know everything, opportunities for authentic dialogue appear in our classrooms. However, a pedagogy of vulnerability is not just for diversity educators; anyone can use their lived curriculum and invite students to do so in their classroom.

When developing taxonomy of learning outcomes, Bloom (1956) and colleagues decided to leave the emotional outcomes for another day for further development. Cognitive outcomes and behavioral outcomes were easier to define, observe, measure, codify. Emotional outcomes presented more difficulty. Vulnerability brings emotional outcomes to the fore by calling upon the teacher and student to examine their lived curriculum in relationship to classroom content. Come explore definitions, assumptions, and applications of a pedagogy of vulnerability at this interactive workshop. Walk away with clarity on the role of self-disclosure and vulnerability in the classroom and some learning activities you might use this semester in your class.

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