Teachers are reminded daily of how "terrible" we are doing. It’s never said directly, of course, but all too often it’s the indirect, between-the-lines comments that upset staff the most.
When was the last time we read an article titled "Teachers: getting better every year"?
Exactly, It just doesn’t happen. One week it’s the curriculum, then the obesity epidemic, then nurture, then failing targets and underperformance…it is utterly exhausting.
Staying confident in your ability as a teacher can be excruciatingly difficult.
However, it can be done. Yes, we have a million things to do each day and, yes, support can be hard to come by, but there are ways that we can keep our heads above water and remember the reasons why we went into teaching.
Confidence is like a muscle: it needs to be worked daily. We all know that the ego can be a dangerous thing, but, really, having it massaged occasionally can bring about incredible results.
Here are three ways I rebuilt my confidence as a teacher:
1. Get a personal review of your teaching
Ask a trusted colleague their thoughts on you as a teacher: not every manager gets it right when they are observing you. We are always trying to improve, but if you’re struggling then reach out to someone you trust and ideally someone you admire. Ask them to observe you for a set time and take their feedback on board.
2. Know your circle of influence
We all get stressed about where education is heading and why the change is so rapid that many of us feel left behind and unable to keep up. Yes, it’s good to want to make changes but be realistic and ask yourself, "What do I want to change?"
Is it the classroom environment? Behaviour policy? Results?
Know what you want the end result to look like and make small steps.
Unfortunately, Rome wasn’t built in a day and if you’re not being allowed to make even the slightest of changes, it may be that a move is on the cards.
3. Know your strengths as a teacher
We cannot be everything to everyone all of the time. When we try, we burn out. Know your areas for improvement, but keep in mind where you really flourish.
Is it behaviour management? Classroom organisation? Differentiation? Write them somewhere and look for evidence when you’re doing well. We need to stop viewing praise as only something we give to our pupils and realise the benefits of using it for staff.
No one ever changes the world when they are feeling insecure.
Louise Darcy is a teacher in Scotland