there's a body in the classroom

Now, I am fully aware of the fact that I am both mind and body -- and I actually feel that I live and work very much aware of and in my physical form, considering that thinking is such a big part of what I do and who I am.

Part of my pedagogical practice also involves being aware of how I present or manage my physical body in the classroom. My first teacher training instructor stressed a lot of things about bodily awareness -- for instance, your students are asked to sit relatively still for the 75-90 minutes of class -- if you walk around the room, it helps keep them alert, as you are moving for them by proxy, in a sense. We all tend to have a preference to look towards the right side or the left side more often -- figuring out what your tendency is and then remembering to include the other side of the room (or seminar table) is especially important. Bending your knees while you're teaching is crucial to keep your energy up and your back comfy. Deep breathing.

At the same time, I'm also aware that my students will, like it or not, be observing me for those 90 minutes. Female professors tend statistically to receive more comments on their personal appearance in course evaluations than do male professors. That's an inevitable feature of patriarchal society, but not something I want to encourage. So what I choose to wear to teach in is selected to be stylish, yet comfortable and not especially revealing. I don't wear very revealing clothes at any time -- that's just not who I am -- but, for instance, I usually wear long sleeves when I'm teaching. I'd never teach in a sleeveless top, though I have some female colleagues who do in warmer weather. Having certain clothes I wear when I'm teaching helps create my teaching persona, and mark that persona as distinct from who I am on the weekends or at home.

But then sometimes the body makes its presence known anyway. I've occasionally taught with a cough or a scratchy throat during cold/flu season. Once I sneezed during class, which made me feel oddly vulnerable.

But yesterday was perhaps my most embarrassing moment yet. My stomach was growling. Loudly enough that I'm sure the students in the front row could hear. Not just once, but a couple of times. Grrr. Grrr. GRRR. I was embarrassed enough that I didn't even make a joke about it, just continued on as if nothing had happened.