Self-Doubt Among Teachers…Why We “Feel” Bad

Tonight, I was reading a blog post featured in The Washington Post by Ellie Herman. The title, Why So Many Teachers Feel Bad so Much of the Time, caught my eye.

I clicked on it from twitter because I was curious. As a teacher who loves my job but often feels bad, I was intrigued. Was it about all the germs lurking in public schools? Old, moldy buildings? Sleepless nights planning lessons and grading essays?
 No, it was about something much more abstract, but just as pervasive–self doubt.
That fog that hangs over your mind at 2 AM as you can’t sleep because you feel like there must be something you forgot…that twinge that lurches through your stomach at 1 PM as an administrator ticks through a checklist at the back of your rowdy, over-crowded classroom…that jolt that electrifies your pulse at 10 AM as you listen to yet another pundit lay out yet another way to hold teachers accountable.

The expectations on us are high, and we are under the microscope. We are entrusted with our students’ learning, but we are not entrusted with creating the policy that impacts that learning. Instead, we are viewed as incompetent at best, political fodder at worst.

It’s no wonder that doubt pervades a teacher’s professional life.

Teachers are never just teachers. We are actors, counselors, secretaries, social workers, managers, sales people….The list goes on. How can anyone be an expert in each area?

The truth is, we can’t. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, which is why teachers’ collaborating with other teachers to create policy for the area in which we have been trained–many of us with several degrees and years of experience–is the only answer for actual improvements in education.

This will restore the public faith in teaching as a profession–and our faith in ourselves as professionals.

Sorry to wax political, but as we are undergoing the third major overhaul of teacher evaluations in my 12 year career, and I’m feeling “bad” about it, it seemed relevant.

Of course, as any teacher who’s been at it long enough understands, at the end of the day, we can go into our classrooms, shut out the noise, and teach. And underneath the cacophony, that is our primary business.

What makes you feel “bad” about teaching? What is the solution? Leave a comment below to let me know.

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