Impostor Syndrome

It’s like the academic version of an extensional crisis. It often happens at 4 a.m. the night before an essay deadline, but in this case it was in the middle of a busy Costa when doing my PPW. * You begin to ask yourself: ‘How did I get here? I know nothing. They’ve made some horrible mistake. I WILL NEVER BE A TEACHER!’ Yes, these are the questions that plagued me as I sat hyperventilating over half a blueberry muffin and the dregs of a latte. I’d filled my head with all these lovely ideas from great teachers; I just couldn’t imagine how I was going to become a great teacher myself, or how I was going to complete the PPW for that matter.

At this moment reason kicked in. I took a deep breath, I went for a walk and I phoned a friend who has been a teacher for a few years to arrange crisis talks.

My friend was not surprised to hear how I was feeling. She did not ask me if I was in the wrong profession. In fact she didn’t think I was an impostor at all! Instead we discussed my work so far and practical steps I could take to address all of the areas of weakness I needed to build on. She also let me in on a little secret. All teachers, no matter how they train or where they train, get Impostor Syndrome.

Then came my PPW epiphany: this is not Teach First trying to frighten us to death with what we don’t know. This is a piece of work designed to show us that it’s ok to ask questions. There is a wealth of experience and knowledge available to us through those who have come before us: the teachers who have written and researched the resources which we were given, the teachers who we have spent time with during our observation weeks and finally teachers like my friend who go out of their way to make new teachers feel confident and supported. I have learned through my PPW that whatever the tabloids would have you believe, the teaching community is an immensely supportive one that really values the training of its fledgling members.

One final piece of advice on this, if you do get caught up in a conversation where somebody calls you an ‘impostor’ don’t let it get you down. There will always be a colleague, mentor, friend or even blogger who remembers the person who helped them through their Impostor Syndrome and who wants to help you succeed. These people will never be far away, you only have to ask.

*See my last post for a glossary of terms


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