If you ever feel like a fraud or phony masquerading as an effective teacher, just waiting for someone to expose your inadequacies, you might be suffering from impostor syndrome.
The good news is that impostor syndrome is not fatal to an educator (or other professional), but it is a feeling that’s hard to shake. First-year teachers are so happy to land that first teaching position and be the innovative, interesting, and fun teacher they have worked so hard to become. Then uncertainty sets in, challenging — “Do you really know what you are talking about? Or are you just an impostor?”
What impostor syndrome actually does is impact a teacher psychologically, draining away self-confidence and replacing it with guilt and fear of being found to be a fraud. Everyone occasionally struggles to admit that they don’t know something or could use some advice in their professional life. Impostor syndrome is an irrational fear, but one that seems so real and feeds any doubt that exists. Dave Robb, a 4th and 5th grade teacher in Auckland, New Zealand, described himself at the end of his first year of teaching as “a walking-talking-people-pleasing-Faker-Mc-Fake-A-Lot,” suffering from impostor syndrome and almost ready to quit teaching. But he and many others discovered it is not impossible to recover from impostor syndrome, and teachers can cure themselves. Try some of the following suggestions to shake the feeling that you’re a fraud. You worked hard to get where you are, and deserve to feel like the accomplished professional you’ve become!
1. Don’t Suffer Alone
Keeping to yourself and hoping that no one will notice when you think you are clueless about what to do just isn’t helpful in curing your impostor syndrome. Talk to a faculty member that you trust and respect and ask for help. All teachers struggle at some point with something, and is usually happy to share their similar experiences and solutions.
If you don’t feel comfortable finding a mentor within your own building or district, become a member of a professional learning community where you can ask for help from educators who teach the same subject or grade level as you—from the safety of your own computer.