Am I ready?
It’s the question I’ve been asking as the countdown to that ephemeral first day of classes ticks closer and closer. It’s a terrible question, actually. Not because I shouldn’t be preparing and planning – that’s part of the job. But the crux of the question is suggesting that despite four years of college, a year and a half of field experiences, and six months of student teaching – I’m still not ready. Within my fellow graduates (and now nearly all contracted teachers) I’ve heard the same refrain as the days fall away from the calendar – it’s a mix of mild panic, imposter syndrome, fear of the unknown, and genuine anxiety at the idea that this is actually happening. We’re going to be teachers.
Am I ready?
I worry about this question. I know, there are probably folks out there who are going to get hung up on my logic and even the argument I’m about to make – but that is the beauty of the teacher and educator world. There is no right answer. There is no right way to teach. There is no one thing that is the vaccine for what ails the educational body. But this is where I’m sitting right now, and I’m hopeful this might be helpful to someone else out there who may be in the same place as me.
Am I ready? I think this question is normal. I asked myself this when I went back to college in 2014. I asked myself this when I did my first, second, and third field experience. I repeatedly interrogated my heart and soul over and over in student teaching with this quandary. Through the testing, the teacher work sample, the essay writing, the graduating, the job searching, and being hired to teach. I never stopped asking it. But I think I need to stop asking it now.
It’s been said plenty of times – how we frame things in words will often direct our perspective and feelings on the subject – eventually leading to us taking action based on how we’ve described and termed the thing. If we put the thing in a box filled with negative connotations, we’re going to react and interact with the thing negatively. So, the question, “Am I ready?” – at least at this point in my journey – can lead me to think/believe/perceive that I am in fact not ready – which can lead further into viewing that first week with a unhealthy amount of self criticism and anxiety.
You’re probably asking (as I asked myself) how do we reshape/reframe/redirect/putyourreverbhere this line of thinking? Well, there’s a few ideas I’ve been marinating on. One is to say, “I am ready to teach, to learn, to adapt, and to learn some more.” The stark reality of that first year is there’s a lot of challenges with new students, new curriculum, new colleagues, and more. Be ready to do what you know but also be ready to become a part of this new community of students, parents, teachers, administrators, and more. So much of this first year is learning, learning, listening, understanding, reworking, learning – rinse and repeat. Being ready to use what I know while also being ready to integrate myself into the new school I think will be key.
Another thing I’m doing is saying to myself, “My professors in my methods and school of ed classes thought I was ready. The person that hired me thought I was ready. My fellow graduates thought I was ready.” My cohort struggled with this during and even after our student teaching – we didn’t realize that we were good enough and that people believed we were ready. So stuck on being perfect we didn’t see the good and great things we had managed to pull together in our semester. We’ve made it this far. People believed you were ready. People with a “Dr.” in front of their name. People who know if someone’s a good teacher…or not.
We’re two weeks from our first contract day. I’ll be stepping into a new school and going through orientation. I’ll be meeting everyone from the Superintendent to the principal’s secretary and back again. I’ll be grappling with my rosters and figuring out seating charts as classes start. I’ll be introducing myself to my group of students and we’ll be journeying through the school year together.
I’ve made it this far because people believed that I was ready at each checkpoint. I’ve made it this far because each person saw my quality and said I was ready. I think I need to start listening to them and believing that I am indeed ready for this adventure.
What keeps you from believing you’re not ready? How do you combat those feelings? What can others around you be doing to help alleviate it?