The damaging effects of self-doubt & teacher comparison

Has this ever happened to you? Lights are out, you’re standing in the doorway, arms loaded. You scan your classroom one last time (“Did I turn off all the monitors? Are tomorrow’s copies set out? Is my yogurt in hand?”), looking forward to a quiet evening at home. All of a sudden someone bustles past you on her way to her own room down the hall. Her arms are loaded, too. Except, she’s walking in.

Suddenly, that tranquil vision you had of stretching out back home in your favorite pajamas flies out the window.

Maybe you ought to add more detail to next week’s lesson plans. Maybe if you heat up your laminator you could finish those Word Work activities. It might be time to freshen up the old bulletin board to make your classroom feel more Pinterest-y. Progress reports are coming up…

Why? What changed? A minute ago you felt on top of things, fairly content with your world. Now you’re in flux, feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.

“It’s never enough,” you tell yourself. “I’m never enough.”


Getting ourselves into such a state of grief is a very subconscious thing. We rarely recognize that this “snowball effect” is even happening. It’s like a little mound of snow that begins with the thought, “Someone’s still working; therefore I’m falling behind.” It’s not even an accurate thought, but it carries with it our universal fear of inadequacy.

And because emotion motivates us, we’re slammed with the idea that it must be true. Pretty soon that snowball picks up speed and size and impacts our entire outlook. So even if you continue on home to watch Netflix in your pajamas, you’re going to keep thinking about that.

And now we no longer feel peaceful toward her. That teacher who seems to have it all together and makes us feel like we’re doing a C-minus job. Well, she doesn’t make us feel that way. We do that to ourselves.

Don’t we preach to our very own students that everyone excels at something? That’s the beauty and synergy of our differences! We teach that idea because it’s true. And the child within us knows it’s true. It’s just that, well, it’s been a few years since we were kids! Now, bosses and politicians and parents and the general public can creep into our brains and accuse us of falling short, because society isn’t fixed yet. If we’re not careful, we might start believing them.

I know teachers who shine at data analysis. I know teachers who seem to have a magic wand for all troubled kids. I know teachers whose student workwall looks like every child is Da Vinci Jr. And you know these teachers, too. Tech genius, artisan, organizer, wordsmith, ambassador…isn’t it great that we all want to spend our time in different ways?

Let’s celebrate that! In the same way, you are adamantly instilling self-worth into your students, let’s adamantly link arms and do the same for ourselves!

We’re all in this together. Even in our pajamas.

Need to be reminded of your worthiness? Hang this poster near your desk or workspace. Refer to it when you need a pick me up or when you’re feeling inadequate, overwhelmed, or like you’re not enough. You are enough. Click here to join the free VIP Resource Library to download it.

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.
– Helen Keller

Love this resource and wish you had access to more like it? Want instant access to a library of resources (for ALL content areas) catered specifically to you and your students’ needs? If you’re nodding yes, then be sure to join the LK Teacher Club!

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  • Ruby January 14, 2019, 2:08 am

    You are so inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing your gift to the world! I am so happy that I found your blog and resources. Reading this post just made my day brighter!

    Lots of love,