Lately, I have felt like an impostor. I have been teaching for three years now. That's three years of lesson plans, grading, working with students, making assessments, and working with colleagues. Even with the pandemic making my experience different from most other newer teachers, I still have quite a bit of experience under my belt now.
And yet I feel like I am an impostor. I get nervous when admin or colleagues come into my classroom to observe. I reflect on my day and think about how I didn't do my best. I made mistakes here or there through the day and they haunt me. Why?
I have no reason to believe this of myself. My colleagues respect me and when they do observe my classroom they give pointers, but also tell me where I've done well. Admin trusts me to do my job and they provide opportunities for me to learn and grow without judgement.
I know I am not alone in this. Impostor Syndrome is real and it is hard on those who experience it. I observe my colleagues and marvel at how well they do. I also see places where I can provide feedback, but only so they can be that much better at their job. I am sure they approach me the same way, but I don't feel like it.
Impostor Syndrome is when you feel like you have tricked everyone around you to see and think one thing about you, when you are actually something else. In my case, I feel like I have tricked my admin and my colleagues into thinking I am a capable, strong, and effective teacher. When really, I still feel like the young student teacher I was a few years ago during my student teaching.
I ask myself "should I be left alone to teach my kids?" And I really do not know. Impostor syndrome doesn't just go with the other adults in my school. I also feel like I have tricked my students too. Sometimes I don't know the answers to their questions, or I misunderstand something in front of them. And while that can help at times make the students feel more comfortable in making mistakes on their own, it really just makes me feel even worse.
So what do I do? How does one address their impostor syndrome? Well, I already do many of the things google says helps stop the feeling of Impostor Syndrome. I ask for help when I need it. I admit when I make mistakes, reflect, and fix it for next time. I try to look at the positive. Yet I still feel like this.
Perhaps it's because I'm the youngest teacher in my department. Perhaps it's because I am one of the youngest teachers in the whole building. Some of the people I work with have been teaching for longer than I have even been alive. They have over twenty years of experience, and there is nothing I can do to compete with that. Not that anyone makes it a competition in the first place.
Perhaps it's because I am too hard on myself. The mistakes I make aren't huge or harmful. Sometimes my lesson flops, or sometimes I don't explain something well, but I can fix that. If I were observing a teacher make these kinds of mistakes, I wouldn't have a problem with that.
Perhaps it's because my first year teaching with my license, my mistakes were treated like they weren't fixable. My old boss decided I wasn't a new teacher in need of coaching, but instead a fraud who shouldn't be in the classroom.
No matter what it was, I feel like my Impostor Syndrome affects my teaching more than anything else. It makes me doubt myself. I don't experiment as much as I should. I sometimes struggle with feeling positive at work.
But I continue on, because I felt confident in my teaching once. I know I can do it again one day. So it is one step at a time. I fake it until I make it, because that's the best I can do. I welcome feedback and I research ways to get better on my own. My advice to you is to do the same if you struggle with this too. Know that you are not alone in this. Many people feel like impostors and feel like they are frauds.
We do not become masters of our field overnight. This takes time, practice, research, and energy. We should keep that in mind the next time the Impostor Syndrome hits us in full swing. We aren't an impostor. We are beginners, or people in the middle, or even masters of our field.
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