Beating the Imposter Syndrome

If you haven’t heard of the “Imposter Syndrome” read this article by the amazing Megan Allen. She talks about the terrible truth that is the imposter syndrome.

Check all that apply:

  • You feel like you are the weakest link on your team.
  • You think everyone else is thinking lowly of you.
  • You don’t think you will ever be taken seriously.
  • You feel inadequate.

You checked all the boxes? So did I.

My crippling social anxiety kept me from standing up in front of my peers and showing just how educated and prepared I was. I thought that if I did, they would reject me. Who am I but some twenty-something who teaches and drinks her way through her twenties? Oh that’s right, I am a highly educated, qualified, passionate, and determined teacher. Here are some things you can do to beat the imposter syndrome.

  1. Find your passion – besides your curriculum, what are you passionate about happening in your school? Passion projects are what will keep you from losing your mind, but also give you your own place in your school. It is something that sets you apart. My passion project is my dance team. I saw that my students were not able to finance after school activities like dance so I started a team. I call this a passion project because I still have yet to get a paycheck from it and you might not ever get one either. What I did receive from it was evidence that I can create something and it can be successful.
  2. Voice your triumphs – once you start doing what you love and making a difference, you are going to start getting questions. Own up to it. Don’t just say “oh geez” or “it was nothing.” Stand up and own what you have worked so hard on. Be proud. Fake the confidence until you have it. 
  3. Say something in your next staff meeting – how many times have you sat in a staff meeting thinking that no one is saying what everyone is thinking? Be the person who takes a stand. Say it kindly and say it with authority. Use sound logic and evidence to support that opinion. If it is purely emotional, it will not be taken seriously. 
  4. Take risks – when there is a time to step up and help plan something, take on a new role, or go to a meeting that isn’t required, do it! What’s the worst that could happen? 
  5. Stay informed – it is so important to know what educational moves are happening around the world and in your district. Spend time reading and go to a board meeting. Being in the know means that you are valuable. Amp up your twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest with all of teacher resources you can get. Eventually reading educational articles and surfing the ed-web will become second nature. 

So go forth and conquer your schools and districts, but keep me informed! I want to know all the cool things happening around the ed world.

My Teacher Leader Manifesto

A teacher leader manifesto is an ever growing and changing document. This document is supposed to represent my why as a teacher leader. The idea for the teacher leader manifesto was not my own, but inspired by teachers before me.

My Teacher Leader Manifesto

Teaching is at the core of my being. To teach is to give people the power to be more than they currently are. Unfortunately, when decisions about how to teach or what to teach are made, classroom teachers and students are often left out. Teachers, on average, will leave the classroom by their fifth year of year of teaching. We are overworked, under paid, and underappreciated. I believe this is largely because lifetime teachers care more about what they do and who they are teaching than almost anything else. Love of the field. This is both the curse and the blessing of being a lifetime teacher. That is why I pledge to be both a classroom teacher and a teacher leader.

I will work to make sure teachers are informed, involved, and loved. Teachers are powerful humans with an undying desire to better society. As a teacher leader, I will try to harness that power to evolve the teaching field from what it is today to a field where lifetime teachers have the power to improve policy and curriculum.

I pledge to work to better my students.

To have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of my subject. To work to improve curriculum while it happens and to use constant formative assessment to make sure I am aiding all my students in their quest for knowledge.

I pledge to work to better schools.

To make schools a safe place for all students to learn and all teachers to teach. To educate teachers on how to reach new heights. To work with administration to build trust with their teachers. To promote teacher’s voices above all else.

I pledge to better the field of education.

To research in order to educate myself and others on important policy decisions and on who policy makers in my area of influence are. To stand up for what is right even if the times are tough. To never give up on education.

I pledge to be an open book.

To not keep my success and my struggles a secret so that I may be able to help others and they may be able to help me. To make sure I never stop learning and leading.

I pledge to seek to connect to people.

To learn from other’s experiences. To not reinvent the wheel, but bridge the gap in minds and create places where educators can discuss successes and hang-ups. To connect the community to their school. To make learning transparent.

I pledge to love.

To show all humans that they are cared for and respected.

I pledge to be human.

To care for my family and my health first and foremost. To make mistakes, but learn from them.

 

Haley Kennedy – 2017

Beating the year one blues.

Year one sucks! You have a bunch of book knowledge and very little practical experience. To be honest, I almost didn’t make it through my first year. Well, to be completely honest, I almost didn’t make it through my first month! By the end of the first week my students were walking all over me and I was lost in the curriculum. Did that make me a bad teacher? NO! It made me a bad classroom manager. Every problem that had boggled me my first year lead back to that first week and how unprepared I was. My student teaching taught me how to make an effective lesson plan, but it did not show me everything I needed to know about being an effective classroom manager.

Here’s how I changed that!

1. Steal from the best and forget the rest!

You are going to come up with brilliant ideas…eventually. Before your school year starts, go to your coworkers and ask to see what they do on the first day of school. Take a lot of notes and ask them to share their presentation or whatever with you. I did this before this school year started and I am so thankful. I got a plethora of incredible ideas. Make sure you continue stealing from the best during the school year too because they really are the best example you are going to get. Thank you L. Macey, P. Moylan, B. Boyd, and B. Mainord for letting me steal off your best ideas and using them as my own.

2. Read up!

I did not do enough research on classroom management before my first year. I thought that I no longer needed to buy bulky teacher resource books and I could find everything I needed online. Oh boy was I Wong! Oops! I meant to say wrong, but thank you Harry and Rosemary Wong for your book “The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher.” Without this book I would not have had thought of some of the most minuscule but necessary classroom procedures. This book contains countless pieces of advice and even gives practical examples form real teachers. This is not the only book I have used to help craft my first week of lessons, but it is the book that changed my perspective on reading those boring, bulky, wordy teacher resource books.

3. Prepare 3x the amount of content you think you need

Any “free time” will be taken as a sign of weakness and your head will be eaten. That might be an exaggeration, but only by a little. Students decide the first day of school whether they will take you seriously or not.  You want you and your students to be busy from bell to bell that first day. When you are prepared, they know that you mean business. If you have three minutes left and decide to play silent ball or some other game, they will think that the last three minutes of every class should be playtime. Unfortunately, their concept of time is a little off, so by three minutes they really think 30. Maybe 40. Instead, with your three extra  minutes ask them to write down the easiest expectation for them to follow, the most surprising classroom expectation you have, and one thing that they are looking forward to this year. This way you are reviewing your expectations and getting to know your students a little bit.

4. Focus

Make sure you are fully aware of what your students should be learning everyday and what they should learn by the end of each unit. In other words, plan backwards then go forwards. Start with your final asessment which would somehow prove that your students learned what they were supposed to learn. Then, plan benchmarks. Make sure you have at least two benchmarks on the way, pre and mid. Next, fill in the blanks starting from the beginning. What should they know by the end of week one, week two, week three… After that, go back to each day and write learning targets and success criteria. This is the best way I have found to make sure I am focused everyday. That way when an administrator comes into my class, they can tell exactly what we are doing and why we are doing it. It’s also helpful for the students. Students want to know what they are supposed to learn and how to tell if they were successful that day.

5. Don’t forget about yourself

By the end of my first year I had gained an obscene amount of weight and I was missing my friends. I had been so focused on keeping my head above water at school that I had completely ignored my physical and emotional needs. This year, I started dancing again. Every Sunday I practiced for three to five hours in order to prepare for a show I was in called “Traditions of Christmas.” Since that is over, I have decided to plan at least one girl’s night a month and get my nails done. If nails and girl’s nights aren’t your thing, figure out what your thing is! Do something once a week that makes you selfishly happy. In other words, you do something that is just for you. When you are unhappy or stressed, you take it out on your students. They don’t need that and you don’t need to be stressed!

This is not the complete list of things to do to survive your first year, but it is what I consider my life-saving tips. Without learning these things, I would not have become the successful, happy, and thriving teacher I am today.

Teaching and drinking my way through my twenties.

I’ve always been a very driven person. I set goals and I achieve them. Letting myself down, or anyone for that matter, is one of my greatest fears. It all started in high school when I realized I hadn’t applied to any colleges, yet my parents were expecting acceptance letters. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to college, it’s that I had no idea what I was doing. I applied to three colleges and I got accepted to three colleges. No big deal. I chose one and went there. Go to college – Goal Accomplished.

Well, I was there, on scholarship, and not doing awesome in classes or personally. I still had no idea what I was doing. 

Not even a year in and I am calling my mom in tears because at this rate, I won’t keep my scholarship or graduate in four years. I let myself down and I thought I let my family down. Panic set in. I am going to be a failure. I set my own fate. In that moment, I had given up.

After a good long hour of tears, I decided that I was not going to be a failure and not moving home. I had taught dance classes and I was always pretty good at writing, so my mom suggested I try out English Teaching. I went to one class and knew this was the mojor for me.

Fast Forward – April 2015.

I had just learned I had qualified for graduation (thanks to my science and math classes I didn’t really know if graduating in four was a possibility) and I was panicking about adult life. I kept asking myself: How do I get a job? Will I ever get a job? How do I adult? Wait, do I still have health insurance? So basically, I still had no idea what I was doing.

I was too afraid to ask anyone how to apply for jobs because what if I was the only one who didn’t know how to job search? So, I went to the Boise School District website and clicked around until I found job applications. I think that’s called street smarts? I don’t know. I’m not even 100% sure I actually filled out a job application there, but I guess it doesn’t matter anymore. On April 28, 2015, one month before my graduation, I was offered my dream job. I accepted a job teaching 8th Grade English Language Arts in a smallish town outside of Boise, Idaho. I was so proud to say that had been offered a job before I graduated. My parents were so proud that their daughter had both graduated college and accepted a job offer. I was over the moon. I did it! I didn’t let them down. I didn’t let myself down! *Phew*

I was so naive. So SO naive

I forgot that getting the job was 1 millionth of the struggle of being a teacher. I nearly, and maybe deservingly, almost lost my job the third week of school. Talk about letting people down. My students. My bosses. My family. Myself.


So, that’s where this blog comes in.

I’m here to help new teachers or returning teachers beat the odds. I’m here to talk about becoming a confident and independent teacher. It’s not an easy process. It’s incredibly scary. I was given the gift of a second chance at the amazing school I work at and I am not going to mess it up. This is my journey to becoming the teacher I dream of being. One step at a time.