Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome? Are you convinced that you are a great teacher? Or do you struggle to believe people when they compliment your work ethics?
The feelings of inadequacy are common and are associated with a phenomenon called ‘imposter syndrome. Anyone from any profession or discipline within any age group can experience imposter syndrome. According to the International Journal of Behavioural Science, imposter syndrome affects approximately 70% of people at some point in their lives. Experiencing imposter syndrome can affect your belief in yourself as a teacher and your ambition and opportunities.
This phenomenon makes you feel inadequate about virtually everything, and this could affect your disposition in class. Here, we will enlighten you on what imposter syndrome is all about and ways to overcome it as an educator.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is the self-belief that you are not worthy of your role/position and responsibilities. More like insecurity, it can make you feel like you are a fraud just waiting to be caught. In other words, it is a pattern of thoughts where one doubts their achievements and is scared of being exposed or found out as a ‘fraud’. It is an internal feeling or experience where you feel incompetent compared to others around you, despite having clear evidence of being good.
As a teacher, experiencing imposter syndrome is likely to involve believing that any success you have experienced in life is due to luck rather than taking personal credit or recognizing your skillset, talents, or qualifications. You will also be likely to struggle to recognize success as yours. Sadly, the teaching profession feeds into this, as academic success is often attributed to children’s performance or ability, while failure goes to the teacher.
What Causes Imposter Syndrome?
There is no precise reason why some people experience imposter syndrome. But the following are some predominant causes of imposter syndrome:
- Many believe that imposter syndrome originates from personality types, especially people who are more anxious or nervous.
- Others believe that childhood experiences and family influences can contribute to developing imposter syndrome. For example, if a person believes they need to score over a certain grade in tests to be accepted or seen as ‘successful’. This impact can influence how the person regards any future success.
- The environment in which a person lives or works also plays a huge role in building imposter syndrome. If a person feels a sense of belonging or acceptance, they are more likely to feel confident in their character and performance. This means that a teacher who is new to a job role, or a new workplace, is more likely to experience imposter syndrome.
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome as a Teacher
- Change Your Perception Of Yourself
Instead of seeing yourself as a ‘finished product’, it is healthier to see yourself as a work in progress, a teacher evolving and developing. And in the true sense, you are not a finished product, as you are bound to keep learning as long as you exist. When things do not work according to your desires, you can recognize that there are things to learn. But do so without introducing guilt or shame on a personal level.
Understand that you are not perfect, so you can quit pressuring yourself unnecessarily, especially when you meet a new class or new colleagues.
- Learn To Communicate With Others
By interacting with others, you tend to build a good support system and distract yourself from your negative thoughts. Share your thoughts; it sometimes reduces the weight of inadequacy. Besides that, learn to be around people that bring out the best in you and encourage you to succeed because you are less likely to feel inadequate with such people around you.
- Look at your skills, talents, and interests
While discharging your duties, take time to pause and appreciate your skills, talents, and abilities. This will boost your confidence and help you find satisfaction within.
- Question your thoughts
When negative thoughts start creeping in, learn to analyze and challenge them.
This process can help you recognize positive thoughts and the ones you need to discard. This strategy will also help you self-reflect and assess yourself to identify areas of improvement.
- Stop comparing yourself with other people
Comparing yourself will give room for unhealthy rivalry, which can turn you into a bitter person at the expense of your students and colleagues. Be more focused on your life and try not to compare yourself with anyone. Understand that no two people are the same; everyone has unique attributes that distinguish one from another. That way, you will learn to feel positive about yourself and others.
- Practise gratitude
Spend time each day feeling grateful for the positive things or areas in your life. That way, you will less likely feel that your accomplishments are down to luck, chance, or other people. Identify your strengths and wins, and celebrate them always.
- Remember that self-doubt is a part of being a good teacher
Understand that at some point in life, no one is immune to self-doubt. It is part of the process of becoming a good teacher, as you will continue to see the need to be above the status quo. However, If it goes too far and is negatively impacting your wellbeing, then it needs addressing.
Knowing that imposter syndrome is prevalent amongst teachers is the first step to knowing how to support yourself as a teacher. You can even channel it to become part of your growth instead of attempting to remove it.