Imposter syndrome is defined as doubting your abilities or feeling like a fraud and finding it hard to accept your own accomplishments. It can make you feel that you aren’t worthy of your purpose or calling and unsure of your own successes. It can make you feel like you need to walk around shrugged instead of proud.
Impostor syndrome can be particularly strong for a newly qualified teacher. You can be riddled with self-doubt and this can be paralysing. Having an unwarranted sense of insecurity is common even when you do a great job. It’s worth reminding yourself though that impostor syndrome is something that doesn’t just plague new teachers. Colleagues of any age can feel a fraud even if they accomplish great things.
You are going to go through times in your life and in your career where you start to compare and wonder - am I meant to be here? You’ll feel less than because you only know a fraction of what a veteran teacher might know. Know this, veteran teachers still doubt themselves, too. It’s hard not to compare your insides with other people’s outsides.
If you teach differently than the person next door - that’s a good thing! If you have different ideas than a classmate sitting next to you - amazing! You see, as the song states, it takes all kinds of kinds - and especially in teaching, we all do things a little bit differently.
I’m not as organized as many of the teachers I work with - and they might say that they don’t do something that I do, and that’s okay. To be really truthful, I’m unorganized, procrastinate often, and sometimes change my lesson plan at the last minute. Teachers I work with would probably cringe at the number of times I’m finalizing my lesson as my students are walking in the door. I’m an Enneagram 7 and as long as I do things with positivity, the last minute doesn't bother me - HA! Some teachers I work with take work home every night; I leave school most nights empty handed because I go home and want to be there for my family. I don’t do work at home, but I hustle hard during the school day. People often tell me I always look like I'm in a hurry. It’s because my time outside of school is so precious to me. We have to own who we are and trust that we are in the right place at the right time with exactly the students we are meant to have.
It’s okay if you aren’t sure what kind of teacher you want to be yet. I recall a story of my first few years of teaching in which I thought I knew who I was - but someone else saw something in me, too.
I was entering my second year teaching - hired as a 5th grade teacher in Mitchell, SD. Two years prior, after finishing my student teaching experience in second grade, I promised myself my path was only going to include lower elementary classrooms. However, I wanted to be in Mitchell, so I took the job and decided I'd move to a lower grade as soon as I could. Except when a lower grade level did come open, my principal denied my request.
I remember the exact conversation. He said, "No way. You're too good where you are." At first, I didn't believe him. But, after several more conversations about things he saw that perhaps I didn't see, I decided to try and own it. I put my heart and soul into upper elementary and fell in love.
Obviously, it worked out because now I spend my days with middle schoolers who are the coolest humans ever.
Figure out who you are as a teacher (even if it takes some encouragement from someone who sees things in you that you don’t see in yourself) Own it. Believe it. And show it. It may take you some time to figure it out - and that's okay!
You are a good teacher if what you do looks nothing like the person next to you. You are a good teacher even if your classroom isn’t color coordinated or organized at all. You are a good teacher even if you don’t grade every single assignment you give. You are a good teacher even if you don’t think about school when you’re on a break or you leave school empty handed every night. You are a good teacher even if, on some days, you really have to talk yourself into teaching. You're a good teacher. And you are exactly the teacher your students need.