I am lucky to have worked with some phenomenal teachers over my professional years. Some of them are so called ‘edu-celebrities’ who have won awards for their blogs and recognised in various polls and are thought of as being inspiring by many. Some are people who deliver some of the most inspiring lessons I’ve ever had the privilege to see a part of. Some are people who can stand on a stage and share their ideas with hundreds of people. Some are teachers who, despite being amazing, wouldn’t say boo to a goose and don’t feel they have anything to offer the profession, let alone the kids in their classroom.
One common recurring theme with many of these educators is their overwhelming sense of inadequacy. The feeling of being inconsequential. The feeling of not being good enough.
Sometimes this has been brought about through a suppressive and bullying culture from their leadership teams. Sometimes it’s because of their childhoods. Sometimes it is because of how they’ve been let down. There are no real consistencies as to the reason why – more often it’s because they just feel that they are not good enough.
This term is one of the most difficult of the year. The run up to exams and assessments is just so pressured. It’s that time of year when the feelings of inadequacy as a teacher can hit a peak. It’s so tough and the pressure can be unbearable. Those marking exam papers feel it. Teaching and being part of the education profession is tough.
I remember going to my first ever Teachmeet. I stood up and shared something which, quite frankly I thought wasn’t worth sharing. But I was brave. I did it. I spoke with those 15 or so people and shared my idea about making student work public, about sharing it to the rest of the school and I hated it. I was sweating. I stumbled over my words. It was quite frankly horrible. The feedback from some of the lovely people there was just so special. I will remember that forever.
The experience made me vow to never allow myself to get so wound up or upset about speaking and sharing like that again. So now, many years on, hundreds of blog posts written, many Teachmeets organised, shared, presented at… many conferences spoken at and shared at…. how do I feel now? I feel much better; the niggling doubt about whether I am good enough, whether my practice or my ideas are worth anything can still eat at me from times. I see it as keeping me honest and therefore striving to keep on improving. How do I cope? I listen to those who tell me otherwise. I look to the impact that my ideas and sharing have brought to other teachers. My friends say lovely things to me. I listen to them. For me, it helps. It means that I am able to do what I do. And, according to them, pretty well.
So… if you are one of those countless teachers worrying about whether your kids will pass their exam for your class or writing your first post on Staffrm, your first share on #PedagooFriday, sharing at a Teachmeet, writing a book or applying for that job you think is above your station or simply just facing that Year 9 class again last lesson on a Friday….
Know you make a difference.
Know you are valued.
Know you are doing the best you can.
Know you are giving your best thinking.
Know you are giving your all.
Know your ideas are worthwhile.
Know that you can speak up in a meeting and be heard.
Know you can do anything.
Know you are wonderful.
Even if you aren’t the best version of you that you will be, you are at the moment and if you’re doing the best you can – then that’s just special.
Just like it’s important to have unconditional positive regard for your students and colleagues, have it in you too. Have faith in yourself. Believe. You can do it. I know you can.