Rising to the Challenge

What if I’m not enough?

When I think about my biggest challenges and fears in teaching, this is the thought that comes up the most. To be an exemplary teacher is incredibly difficult. The relatively little experience I’ve had has required that I work harder and smarter than I’ve ever had to before. It’s been difficult to keep up and keep moving. But I also know that I’m not the only education student or for that matter, the only student at all who have felt the same.

In this post, I’ll try to help myself and others to move past that fear and to rise to the challenge that is science teaching.

How could I possibly live up to……?

Many of us have teachers that have been shining examples for us. They are our role models. And frankly, sometimes they feel like real life superheroes at what they do. It can be very easy to start comparing yourself to them, and even easier to see all of the ways that you don’t stack up. But as important as it is to learn from experienced teachers and to respect their style and skill as a teacher, comparing yourself to them is just going to discourage you. To help work this out, here are a few things to keep in mind.

You’re new at this

Every great teacher was once a student. And every great teacher was once a first-year teacher. We’ve got plenty of time to learn and gain experience

You aren’t alone

There are so many other people and other resources to learn from. We are all in this cohort to support each other and to be a community. We will all be teachers someday soon, and we will all learn together.

You don’t have to be like them. You can be you

It can be extremely valuable to learn from your teacher role models but ultimately, it will you in the classroom, not them. You don’t have to be exactly like them. You will find what works for you

More on feeling like an imposter

Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you don’t belong. It stems from insecurities and lack of confidence in oneself. Imposter syndrome is much more common than you might think (especially in people starting new careers), but there are ways to move beyond it.

Confidence is key

Here are some tips I got from another blog (linked below) for how to build confidence in yourself as a teacher

1. Be prepared

Planning includes anticipating the challenges of particular classes, ensuring you’re ready for lesson observations, potential situations that could arise and how you might deal with them. If your confidence has been knocked, try to put a little extra preparation time in. But… try to allow for some flexibility to avoid panicking if you need to change track part way through!

2. Walk tall

Body language says a lot! It affects how others see us, as well as how we see ourselves. In her TED Talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that “power posing” – standing confidently, even if we don’t feel it – can boost your sense of self-confidence and possibly have an impact on our chances for success. People who are scared or unsure tend to slouch or cower, so walking tall will give you an air of confidence.

3. Your classroom, your rules

  • Your lesson begins the moment your students set eyes on you. So if they’re waiting outside your classroom, start the lesson then. Calmly and confidently demand the behaviour you expect from them before they come in, greet them at the door and set expectations straight away.
  • If you start to feel panicky or that you’re losing control, take a moment and breathe. Refer to your lesson plan and then once you feel more relaxed, try to gain control of the lesson calmly and authoritatively.
  • Finally, if a class simply won’t listen, don’t try to shout over them. It will quickly frustrate and anger you and it won’t encourage your class to listen. Instead, try calmly standing still (despite how you may feel inside) and wait. Eventually, the class will become quiet, it may not happen right away but be patient.

4. Don’t fear criticism, use it

If you’ve been given some feedback that you deem to be negative, then use it as a tool to change. By acting on criticism instead of wallowing in it, you can turn a negative into a positive, helping you to not only build confidence but also really improve your practice.

5. Steer clear of Negative Nellie’s

Do you find yourself surrounded by teachers who complain and moan about, well, everything? Although all teachers face challenges, it doesn’t help to constantly focus on them in a negative way. If you notice that the people around you are always winging, change you surround yourself with. Look for those teachers who are trying to be and are positive about their job.

6. Realize your strengths

Last, but definitely not least, take some time to reflect on your practice and pull out the positives. Try filming your lesson for a really objective lens on your practice.

Whilst it might be uncomfortable at first, it really does help to overcome negative self-perceptions and recognize your strengths in the classroom. By reflecting on your teaching strengths and celebrating them you build a sense of self-worth and belief, which ultimately leads to confidence.

Blog Post

Herbert-Smith, K. (2018, March 22). 6 ways to boost your confidence as a teacher. Retrieved May 1, 2019, from https://blog.irisconnect.com/uk/community/blog/5-ways-to-boost-your-confidence-as-a-teacher-1/

It’ll be worth it

It’s always important to keep in mind why we are doing this. It’s important to us, and it’s important for the future that our students will have the best education we can give them. We will make sure that we are good enough because it’s worth doing.


1 Comment

  1. Hello Peter,
    Awesome post! I have to admit that I really doubted my abilities to be a teacher as well. I used to pretend to be a teacher in my bedroom, as a child, but it really isn’t like real teaching. Kids talk back! lol. I had to work harder than anyone else in the class because I am an introvert and must find my voice and confidence. I always felt like I was crap compared to all the other students. That is changing. My confidence has increased because of Dr. Ann and because of our field teacher, Mr. Frueaf. I like all of your tips. I definately have imposter syndrome. I felt this way walking into Dr. Ann’s class. The tips that I particularly like and have seen in my teaching are staying away from negativity, doing things to help you remain confident, realizing your strengths, and also learning from criticism. I need help with the last one! Everytime someone criticizes me, my self-worth plummets. I think I just need to do what you say and take it another way. I like your quote. You are right, teaching is not easy, but it has allowed me to grow more than anything else in my life. Excellent post! I also hope my post was helpful to you since I wrote similar things. I do have a question, What is the area you have grown in most as a teacher? Please let me know!

    Delaina (:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.