Feeling Like an Imposter

I just read an article from Faculty Focus where the author writes about her experience as feeling like an imposter.  It is a very relevant article that touched on many of the feelings I have when I teach a class.  Being a new instructor, I, too, feel like an imposter when I am teaching.  Quite often, I am actually younger than the students I am teaching, and I feel like they probably question my experience, qualifications and ability to teach.  And if I was them, I’d be thinking the same thing.

Take the Imposter Syndrome Test here: http://www.empresshasnoclothes.com/articles-detail.php?aid=520&cid=4

Craven (2014) describes the Imposter Syndrome as a psychological phenomenon, where you experience “feelings of inferiority and fraud, as if someday (maybe even today) your inadequacies will be discovered”.  She states that it is a completely irrational, and when I read through the rest of the article, I can see that she’s right.  I remind myself that I was hired because I have the knowledge base and experience needed to be able to teach a particular subject.  Usually when students hear that I have been a nurse for 8 years, they seem a little more convinced that I am not an imposter in the classroom.  When I also use personal anecdotes about my nursing experiences, the students really seem to accept me as being “qualified” to teach.  (But the stories have to be good – acts of heroism, cardiac arrests, wound evisceration….the better the story, the quicker you’ll seal the deal as a qualified teacher).  Colleges do not expect new instructors to be perfect, and there are going to be times when the students may stump me.  I do not know everything.  But that’s okay.  I think student’s a very accepting if an instructor admits that they do not know an answer and then finds out for the student’s by the following class.  In fact, this might even boost instructor credibility in the eyes of the students. 

I don’t think I’ll ever completely lose the feeling of being an imposter, and I think that this actually helps keep instructors humble.  Being an instructor is a privilege, and not something that I should take for granted.  I’ve got an obligation to continually prove myself to my students, the college, and maybe most of all, to myself, that I belong in the classroom.  But as I become more confident, I think Imposter Syndrome might begin to fade away … and I’m looking forward to it!

Reference: Craven, J. G. (2014). Overcoming the imposter syndrome: Advice for new faculty.  Faculty Focus September 16, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-careers/overcoming-imposter-syndrome-advice-new-faculty/



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