Tackling teacher doubt and building a support system
by Elyse Hahne | 09.18.17
Entering a new school year can bring so many emotions. There’s the excitement of meeting my new students, the joy of hearing their chatter in the hallways again, the anticipation of guiding them through another year. But there’s worry, too. I wonder, “Am I enough?” You think you have it all planned, from your classroom to your schedule, and then doubt hits you like a ton of bricks.
Think about a time when you felt doubt. Do you remember how it made you feel? In my experience, doubt can go hand in hand with fear. The fear of not being enough is particularly hard to swallow. You go to school, get your degree and are put in charge of a classroom – or classrooms – full of students. You are expected to teach them and make a difference. When the reality of that challenge sets in, it can be tough to remember the confidence you used to have.
I’m here to tell you that you are enough. Every day is an opportunity to face doubt and own your day. In fact, that’s the #OneSmallThing I’m focusing on this year: I will kick the doubt and believe in what I have to offer. Will everything always go the way I planned it? No, but I have an opportunity to make a difference and make memories with my students that they will remember for a lifetime. That’s more than enough!
When you face your doubt head on, you become vulnerable. A quote I love from Brené Brown says “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” You must take on that challenge of vulnerability to move forward. It sounds scary, but this is how you become that teacher your students will always remember.
However, you are not alone in your journey. Once you start tackling your doubt, you have so much more brainpower available to create a built-in community to support you, both as an educator and as a person. Use those connections! Reach out and collaborate with your peers on campus and ask questions. Get out of your classroom and seek out the people who have more experience than you. Notice when they do something awesome.
You also have an amazing support system on social media. Twitter, which is one of my favorite tools, empowers and supports you day in and out. If someone tweets something that inspires you, reach out and connect with that person. Step by step, you build your professional learning network (PLN), and then you own your position as an educator and as a person.
Doubt will always try to creep up and overtake your life. However, you have the power to kick the doubt, choose vulnerability and connect with people all over the world who have similar interests. Your PLN becomes an instant support system all in one.
One small thing – like pushing past those feelings of doubt and making connections that keep you confident – not only empowers you personally, but has the power to transform how you teach.