Don’t Let the Internet Ruin Your Confidence in Yourself as a Teacher!

The Internet is an amazing resource for us teachers!

Millions of ideas are at our fingertips. It allows us to connect with other teachers around the world. The Internet helps us improve our practice.

BUT!

(You knew there was a “but” coming, right?!)

If we’re not careful, what we consume online can make us doubt ourselves as teachers. It can contribute to feelings of overwhelm.

Personally, I see three major challenges that we face as teachers in this Internet-driven era:

Challenge #1: Too much information, not enough time.

Challenge #2: Comparison (the thief of joy…and sanity).

Challenge #3: The endless search for answers…even though they may already be right in front of us.

The Internet is great, but it also presents some real challenges for teachers. This post lists some important things to keep in mind!

Photo Credits:  Emolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

So let’s start with Challenge #1.

Challenge #1: Too much information, not enough time.

We know a lot more about teaching and learning than we did 150 years ago!

And now, with the Internet, we can read teacher blogs (like this one!) and get so many ideas about how to teach things, or even what to teach.

This is all good stuff, but it comes down to this: Our knowledge of best practices AND our “database” of ideas has grown exponentially over the years. BUT the amount of time in the day has remained the same!

And this problem is NOT going away anytime soon.

So rather than wishing that an extra 2 hours would magically appear in the school day (or in my planning time), I have to change how I think about this challenge.

Instead of “I wish I had more time,” it’s more productive to think, “Like always, time is limited. What can I do in the classroom that will make the biggest impact during the time that I do have?”

And remember…we all face the same struggle with this! I don’t think I’ve ever met a teacher who has it all figured out.

Don’t feel like you’re not a good teacher because you can’t “fit it all in.” The reality is—NO ONE fits it all in, because it’s just not possible.

All we can do is be selective about what we DO fit in, be reflective and make adjustments, and not beat ourselves up about something that will never change—a lack of time!

Challenge #2: Comparison (the thief of joy…and sanity).

Oh, boy. This is a big one!

When I started teaching, teacher blogs weren’t really a thing.

But when they started to grow and I discovered them…I realized just how much I *WASN’T* doing! 😳

Learning from other teachers is something that I absolutely LOVE to do. I could probably spend every day in a different teacher’s classroom for the rest of my life! It’s the best!

But sometimes I end up comparing what I do in the classroom to what others do in the classroom. And I feel like I’ve fallen a little short.

In my case, I’m not particularly crafty when it comes to bulletin board displays, projects, etc. And my anchor charts are NOT very cute.

It’s just not my thing, and I’m usually okay with that. But when I get sucked into an Internet hole of Pinteresting or blog reading, I see these awesome projects and displays that teachers create. And I end up feeling like *I* need to be doing more!

On one hand, the Internet can help us grow by showing us what others are doing.

But if we end up constantly comparing ourselves to others, we can very quickly start to feel like we’re insufficient teachers. Or that EVERY project, activity, display, and lesson has to be perfect.

As a recovering perfectionist, I have to say that striving for perfection (especially when it comes to teaching) is an unrealistic goal!

Not only that, but it can lead to us taking our eyes off the prize: student learning.

As long as your kids are happy and learning, does it really matter if you have a Pinterest-worthy classroom or the most creative reading comprehension activities ever?

I think this quote sums it up well: “There are a lot of ways to get from point A to point B…As Deng Xiaoping once said, ‘I don’t care if the cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.'” (The Obstacle Is The Way, by Ryan Holiday)

Do you catch my drift?

There’s a LOT of ways that we can get kids to learn.

We don’t have to do things in the most glamorous way, or in the way that someone else is doing them, UNLESS we genuinely find those ways to be helpful to our students and fulfilling to us. (And do-able in a reasonable amount of time, so we don’t spend our entire lives working on school stuff!)

So whether you are standing on tables and decorating your room like a castle, or just quietly doing the best you can for your kids…you are doing a good job. Keep it up!

Challenge #3: The endless search for answers….even though they may already be right in front of us.

When I face a challenge in my teaching, I often a) go to Google or b) read a professional development book about it.

I don’t think those are bad ways to solve a problem; they are usually REALLY helpful!

But a problem can arise when we begin to believe that the answers to all our questions can be found outside of ourselves.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like I just COULDN’T solve a behavior problem in my classroom. I get to thinking that I need outside help, or solutions from an expert (or the Internet)!

But then I sit down and REALLY start thinking about what might be causing the problem. Upon deeper reflection, I come up with a few things I could do differently to try and solve the problem.

And what do you know? I realize that the solutions I’m looking for are ALREADY in my own head!

Here’s another thing—

I’m trained as a literacy coach, which means that I’ve learned how to support other teachers as they improve their reading and writing instruction.

As a literacy coach, my job is NOT to provide all of the answers. It’s not even to suggest possible solutions (not all the time, anyway).

My main role is to help teachers reflect on their practice and come up with their OWN answers to problems and challenges they face.

It all comes down to this:

The Internet and other resources can be very helpful when we need answers or solutions to problems in our classrooms.

But the most powerful (and possibly most effective) solutions are the ones that come from our own teacher brains!

So have confidence in your own ability to deal with teaching challenges.

Rather than going straight to the Internet for advice, think through the issue on your own and see what you can come up with.

You already have a wealth of knowledge about teaching, and it’s growing every day!

Conclusion

What I really hope you take away from this post is this:

  1. If you are struggling to “fit it all in,” know that the problem ISN’T you. The problem stems from an abundance of information and ideas + limited time.
  2. You (yes, you!) are an awesome teacher, and comparing yourself to others usually isn’t helpful or productive.
  3. Many of the answers to your problems or questions lie within YOU!

What do you think about all this? Can you relate to these challenges? Let me know in the comments. Happy teaching! 🙂

blog sig

2 Responses to Don’t Let the Internet Ruin Your Confidence in Yourself as a Teacher!

  1. Great post!! I struggle with all three. Often, I feel like I don’t measure up to this teacher or that teacher. They all seem to be more organized, craftier, etc… I am going to compliment them instead of trying to change my teaching all the time. It is amazing how much a compliment from a peer can build our confidence!

Leave a reply