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This image was from my practicum experience this past spring. You may not be able to see it, but behind the smile behind the mask was a college student wondering, "Why do I still show up?"
In this post, I address the nerves, stress, self-doubt, and imposter syndrome around becoming a teacher and most importantly, why I still show up.
Questioning myself: Nerves and imposter syndrome
I first knew I wanted to become a teacher in elementary school. It was one of the decisions that felt right inside. But until high school, I couldn't do anything with that decision.
I first began working in education when I was fifteen as an assistant camp counselor at a local zoo. I was clueless about how to communicate with young humans and was nervous about how much they looked up to me.
Since then, I have grown as a leader, teacher, and person. I have learned how to talk to young children, how to teach them, and how to guide them. In the five years since then, I have worked as a para, or assistant teacher, in several classrooms. I have observed and learned from other teachers to build up my practice.
However, with every new experience and with every new day of entering a classroom, I still feel the same nerves as I did five years ago. I ask myself, "Are you good enough?", "Are you patient enough?", "Are you prepared enough?", and "Do you deserve to be here?".
Imposter syndrome is real. Every semester, I question my decision on becoming a teacher. Am I the best person to support my future students and families? Will I manage a classroom successfully? Will I be prepared with the best materials, curriculum, resources and accommodations? Am I enough?
Yes, this is all coming from the person who started a blog about that same journey. But you face obstacles in every journey. There is no straight line from point "A" to point "B."
And as with any job, I have good days, and I have bad days. There are times when students run me up a wall or nothing goes my way. There are days when I come home exhausted and have no motivation to do my coursework.
These thoughts and questions are my reality. Teaching is not always positive. Not everything goes your way. Students have bad days, a classroom becomes difficult to manage, and you begin to question why you continue to show up.
There is an interesting question: "Why do I still show up?". Despite these bad days and weeks, why do I still show up -- coffee in hand, a tired smile on my face -- ready for another chaotic day?
Why do I still show up?
1. The students
Most other teachers, paras (including myself), and specialists will answer with, "The students."
The students, who are. . .
Every time I meet a child, I see a special light glow inside them. A light full of curiosity, opportunity, and possibility. And within myself, I have a persistent wish to help them glow.
The students are why, despite the challenging days, I still show up to work.
2. I could not imagine working in any other job
Throughout the past twelve years (give or take a few), I had my path set on becoming a teacher. Sure, I may have considered becoming a marine biologist, cook, and author at some points. But I always came back.
Why did you choose to be a teacher? Well, the simple answer is that the title of "teacher" just clicked.
I have always loved to learn and enjoyed going to school. I have admired my teachers as leaders and people. And teaching, to an extent, is natural to me. It suits me.
To learn more about the start of my journey, check out the "About" page.
3. I have a support system
My family, friends, classmates, and teachers have all supported me on my journey.
When I was planning for college, my friends, teachers, and family supported my decision to study education. I had leaders in my mom, dad, and teachers who supported my goals. They taught me about work ethic, dedication, patience, and persistence.
Now, I have support from friends, old and new, who cheer me on in my studies, work, and other opportunities. Their curiosity, kindness, and encouragement keep me going. And one of my friends even connected me with the internship I participated in last year!
My professors and advisors are my professional support system. In my moments of self-doubt, they affirm my skills, knowledge, and capability. They see something in me that I am just beginning to see in myself.
And recently, I have you -- a community of education enthusiasts! You continue to show up on this little blog to educate yourselves and to follow my journey.
So to you all and the ones I forgot to mention, I want to say "thank you"! You shape me into the person and teacher that I am today. Thank you for your support and encouragement.
. . .
For the next month, I will have a break from the classroom. For the next three weeks, I have a break from my course work. I am grateful for this short break; my brain needs a break.
To all of my fellow teachers and college students out there, enjoy your last weeks of summer!
Leave me a comment!
If this post resonates with you or your experience, leave me a comment below!
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Meghan Hesterman (she/her) is a child advocate and education blogger. While a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), she created Journal of a Future Teacher to share her journey in becoming an early childhood teacher.