Yesterday, as I was just about to leave work, my boss asked me to have a look through some of the learning objectives he had planned for one of the lessons that he is going to deliver next week. I read through what he had written, and offered some suggestions.
He wrote my suggestions down.
This isn’t the first time this has happened since I started teaching at my current school nearly two years ago. To most people, it wouldn’t mean anything. However, I was (yet again) taken aback by the fact that he actually valued my opinion. He’s an experienced and excellent practitioner and I have an enormous amount of respect for him, so why would he want to know what I think?
This is something that has plagued my working life since I graduated in 2006. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in that I’ve been in full-time employment ever since, while some of my friends have experienced various struggles when obtaining jobs over the years. I’ve always felt that this was predominantly down to luck and being in the right place at the right time.
Job 1: Two weeks after I had received my degree results, I saw an advert for a Learning Mentor at a school on the other side of the city. I didn’t fully know what a Learning Mentor was, but after doing some research I thought that it sounded interesting and I decided to apply for it anyway. I got the job. (It turned out to be the best job I’ve ever had).
Job 2: The funding was being cut for the Learning Mentoring posts, and I was worried that I was going to be made redundant. A random conversation with a Deputy Headteacher, in which he learned that I had an honours degree in music, led to him suggesting that I apply for a Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) course, which the school would support. I applied at the end of May and by the beginning of June I had been accepted. GTP courses are now notoriously difficult to get onto and the competition to be allowed onto them are enormous, with application being submitted months in advance.
Job 3: As my GTP was nearly finished, the school informed me that they couldn’t offer me a teaching position after I had qualified and so I needed to find another job. I saw an advert for a school that was situated not far from where I lived and applied. I heard nothing back from them, so assumed that I hadn’t been granted an interview. Unfortunately, at the same time, my mother (who lives 100 miles away) was taken into hospital and so I rushed to catch a train. Two days later, my mother was recovering and we knew that she was going to be fine. At 6.00am I checked my phone answer machine messages to discover that I had an interview for 9.00am that day at the school I had applied for. My sister raced over to look after my mum, I jumped on a train, informed the school of the situation and that I was on my way. I turned up nearly two hours late, with no lesson plan and no resources (aside from a few CD’s that I happened to have in my bag). I got the job.
After this I had a few interviews at two different schools that I didn’t get and at the time I was crushed. However, I managed to get a job at my current school, which I love, and have since found out that the places that I applied for and was turned down are places that I would have really struggled in – the education system is a small world – everybody seems to be related to each other – and I have heard horror stories and thanked my lucky stars that they turned me down as I know that I would have gone from the proverbial frying pan into the fire…
There’s that word again… Luck.
My problem is that I feel like an imposter. I have been given lots of praise and encouragement at work – my last few sets of lesson observations have been awarded with ‘Outsanding,’ trainee teachers are sent to my room to observe my teaching, I have trained other members of staff that have been in the profession twice as long as I have and I have been grateful for every opportunity that has been offered. However, I can’t shake the feeling that at some point I am going to be found out for the fraud that I feel that I am. My faculty is filled with hard-working, lovely, high achieving adults who seem to spend their entire lives marking and planning and be able to do everything better than I do. I hate having to attend meetings as I feel that my opinion is going to be viewed as irrelevent and so I often feel that it is best to keep quiet unless I am absolutely sure that what I am going to say makes sense. When something good happens, instead of feeling proud of myself I often find myself thinking that I’ve managed to fool them this time and have got away with it. What I find most ridiculous about it is that I haven’t experienced any negativity from my colleagues, I have enough evidence to prove that I shouldn’t feel like this and yet the thoughts still won’t leave.
I’ve often been told that I have a tendency to overthink things. I must admit, I feel silly writing about it, and haven’t done so to prompt further praise or fish for compliments, but it has been troubling me for a while. Is it luck? Fate? I’m not sure what initially caused these thoughts – it could be a lack of confidence or bad experiences that I have had in the past, but it is beginning to affect the way I think about myself and my job.
Does anybody else feel like this?
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