Nowadays, in our teaching career, there are many ways that you can find new and innovative ways to teach a certain lesson. You can find creative lesson ideas on Teachers Pay Teachers or social media or around your school or even a book that you may be reading (we have a ton of recommendations)… and all of those things are great. But don’t let it consume you.
Don’t let them defeat you or diminish who you are as an educator.
I (Charissa) remember feeling so overwhelmed my first year of teaching that I turned towards social media to get fun and exciting ways to engage my students. However, instead of using those ideas and implementing them the way that I should have for MY class, I found myself comparing my lesson to that of the Instagram teachers. I felt discouraged because my lesson didn’t flow well or my students couldn’t accomplish the tasks I wanted them to. From that moment, I started comparing everything I did to that of those Instagram teachers I followed. They all had such exciting lessons and “Instagram-worthy” pictures of all of the fun they had. My joy was depleting as I compared everything I did to their methods.
I (Kristina) always felt so intimidated when I first started teaching. I was always surrounded by very seasoned teachers. These teachers were the queens of their trade. They had strategies they’d learned and developed longer than I’d been out of high school. They had their flow. They had their routines. They had their skills that totally rocked and got their students far beyond where they needed to be! I felt unprepared. I felt unworthy. I definitely didn’t feel like a good teacher.
I never felt like I could catch up. I never felt like I could be as effective.
As I look back now, I realize my biggest setback was myself. I was trying too hard to be them. Instead, I should have been trying to use their strategies and adjust them to fit my style. However, I felt the only way I could effectively deliver the strategies was if I did it like everyone else. Boy, was I wrong.
You see, classrooms are like snowflakes. No two are the same.
Every teacher has a different batch of students with different personalities, different ability levels, and different needs. What works for some people might not work for you in your classroom and vice versa. I think a lot of times, we blame ourselves for that. We think that it’s because of our classroom management or because we haven’t taught them what they needed to know. In the end, it’s all about what works for you and your students. How can you connect with them and engage them while still being true to yourself? That is when you will find your success.
Just like snowflakes and classrooms, no two students are the same. How one teacher deals with a struggling student might not be what works with your struggling student. How one teacher connects with your student might not be how you connect with your student. I know we both forget that sometimes, which has made us feel like we weren’t connecting with our students on a deep enough level. We felt like we weren’t doing something right. It was almost like everyone had the magic touch...but us. But, we are not those other teachers. We all have our own unique personalities and characteristics that play a role in how our students respond to us in a specific moment.
We live in culture that is completely driven by appearance.
We are told how we should look, dress, act, etc. As teachers, there is an extreme pressure to perform to a certain standard or receive certain scores and it can be extremely daunting and overwhelming. It is so easy to lose yourself to the near impossible expectations we are held to. It is often easy to lose sight of the purpose. KIDS.
So, how do we overcome this toxic mindset of not being good enough? We’ve found that having someone to be real with in the workplace... someone you can be raw and honest with is the game changer. Most days our greatest medicine is just being honest with each other about our struggles and doubts. We are then able to remind each other the great and life-changing things we are doing for KIDS. We remind each other of the gifts we possess, rather than focusing on everyone else’s gifts. That’s our ultimate WHY after all: our KIDS!!
It’s so easy to get sucked into a negative mindset. We are our toughest critic any day of the week.
Find those people who will remind you of what makes you special, because you are.
As educators, we have a huge responsibility. We are trusted to educate the youth in our communities. You might reach your kids through elaborate storytelling, incorporating music in your lessons, involving movement, creating dynamic discussions among your students, planning classroom transformations, or using a variety of other engagement strategies. You may even use a multitude of those strategies in your classroom. But it doesn’t have to be like the classroom next door or down the hall. It doesn’t have to look like the most seasoned teachers’ classrooms. Can you learn from all of those people? YES, of course…please do! They hold a wealth of knowledge. Some of the best professional learning can happen within the walls of your school. However in the end...YOU DO YOU!
Do YOU proudly and STOP comparing yourself to the teacher on the other side of your screen or the other side of your school.
You are ENOUGH.