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FREW Consultants Group        
Monday, June 12 2023

Authentic Teachers - Having 'Some Skin in the Game'

The last couple of Newsletters have investigated boundaries, that contact between your ‘self’ and others.  Of course, boundaries primarily operate to maintain our security, keep us in a state of homeostatic equilibrium, at a social level it is where we evaluate the intensions of the ‘others’.  However, you have to understand every person you interact with is making the same judgements about you; are you threatening or can you provide something they need that allows them to maintain their equilibrium.  Boundaries are at the centre of all relationships.


In the title of this essay I have referred to having ‘some skin in the game’.  This expression refers to a concept where you have a personal stake in any interaction and how you behave towards others, in our case a student.  You really must realise the importance of your personal involvement, your behaviour towards others will be judged by how that impacts on them.  Having "skin in the game" implies a commitment and a willingness to take on the consequences of one's actions.


When you are dealing with students who have a history of abuse and neglect you have to realise the difficulty they have in trusting adults, their have been betrayed so many times before.  You have to be consistent and persistent (there are those words again) in the way you treat them.  This is only possible if you are true to your own personality values and temperament.  You are, persistently and consistently regardless of the situation in which you find yourself.  This is where you apply the boundary questions:

  1. ‘What is really happening’?  Often this is not the immediate action that you observe, there could be other factors that got you to this place.
  2. ‘Who is responsible’?
    • If the answer is ‘me’ then I must take responsibility, take action to address the cause of the stress.
    • If not ‘me’ then I ask a further two questions:
      • ‘What is causing the incident’?
      • ‘What do I have to do to change this situation in the long run’?


Regardless of the pressure you're under you must answer these questions honestly.  Sometimes this is very challenging, you are lying at the boundary between you and the student.  If you are not consistent, you become inauthentic by avoiding the uncomfortable truth.  This may give you some short-term personal protection but imagine the reward you get when you dare to be true to yourself, and to the student regardless of how frightening that may be.  On top of this personal cost you will lose a relationship vital if you want to be an effective teacher, you want to be authentic!!


A truly authentic person is one that appreciates of the reality of a situation, ‘what is really happening’.  Not only are they aware of what is improper they process the steps required to share that truth they also take action to rectify the situation for the benefit of all concerned.  They are kind, a trait that is a bit out of fashion these days and have real compassion for those students who struggle with behaviours that are a legacy from the childhood.  However, an authentic teacher knows what they and their students are capable of achieving.


An authentic person is kind, generous, and considerate toward others. You have the ability to put yourself in other people's shoes and see the world from their perspective. You can easily find common ground with others, regardless of how different they are from you.


As mentioned above, the students are the ones who will judge your authenticity.  The following are some steps to demonstrate how genuine you are:

  • Above all other qualities, the necessity to be true to yourself is paramount.  I have seen many young teachers try to mimic other staff members who appear to be successful. This never works; when you are under pressure you will always revert to your fundamental ‘self’.  So stop trying and embrace your own unique style and personality. All students, especially those who are highly suspicious, appreciate teachers who are genuine.  Remember they can see through any pretences.
  • Share part of your personal experiences; teachers who disclose part of their own journey, especially when they relate to the topic at hand create a connection with their students.  In this way you show you are not just an authority figure but also someone who has experienced real-life situations.  A strong word of caution, never cross that professional line, remember these are professional boundaries!
  • Show vulnerability, you will make mistakes and you don’t know everything so let the kids see you are imperfect just like them and everyone else.  This also demonstrates that learning is an ongoing process for everyone, including the teacher. It also encourages your students to be open about their own challenges and mistakes.
  • Authenticity involves being present and attentive to students. You should actively listen to what they are saying, showing genuine interest in their ideas, concerns, and questions. This fosters a sense of trust and respect.  Just remember how you felt when someone important gave you their undivided attention.
  • Communicate openly and honestly with your students providing them with clear expectations, explaining why you are teaching in this style and giving constructive feedback.  Your transparency make the students more likely to perceive you as authentic.
  • Authentic teachers demonstrate compassion and understanding of their students' challenges and emotions. So create a supportive and inclusive environment where students feel safe to express themselves and share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Authenticity is also reflected in consistent behavior and actions. Consistency is one of the most powerful personal qualities you can have.  Great teachers are unfailing in their words and actions, treating all students fairly and respectfully. This consistency develops trust and credibility.


Put simply, authenticity means you're true to your own personality, values and spirit, regardless of the pressure that you're under to act otherwise. You're honest with yourself and with others and you take responsibility for your mistakes. Your values, ideals, and actions align.

Posted by: AT 11:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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John R Frew
Marcia J Vallance

ABN 64 372 518 772


The principals of the company have had long careers in education with a combined total of eighty-one years service.  After starting as mainstream teachers they both moved into careers in providing support for students with severe behaviours.

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