Three Educators Talk About How They Battle and Overcome Self-Doubt

Community May / Out of The Box May / May 15, 2018

Social-Emotional Support  (SES)

Teachers need social-emotional support too. FLGI surveys suggest that one of the biggest barriers to teachers migrating from traditional passive instruction to active learning strategies may be tied to the need for social-emotional support. Many teachers are simply not getting their deepest social and emotional needs met and are often teaching on an empty emotional tank.

This section is focused on providing the social-emotional support we all need before we even can consider Flipped Learning. This project was developed to be the missing link in the unsuccessful efforts to move more teachers from passive to active learning.

In this section of the magazine, you can either read the transcripts or listen to the episodes of a podcast called Teachers’ Aid, with Jon Harper and Mandy Frohlich. Every topic takes on one of the biggest social-emotional challenges teachers face in search of real answers. We affectionately call this project the FLGI pyramid scheme: Maslow’s pyramid first, Bloom’s pyramid second. Enjoy the transcript below or listen to the entire show at the bottom of the transcript.

Teachers’ Aid

Mandy: Welcome to this edition of teacher’s aid. We’re talking today with Peter DeWitt about self-doubt.

Jon: Peter, you are someone who has caused me to doubt myself and I wanna tell you why. I am, I’m working on a book but I’ve been working on this book for two years. And you know you and I Vox back and forth and in the time that I am still working on my one unfinished first draft of a book you have finished one book and you’re getting ready to publish another book. And while I say that somewhat jokingly, there is a part of me that thinks to myself, “Well, damn it, Jon. This guy’s finished a book and he’s almost done with another one. How come you can’t finish one book?”

I think it’s so easy to look at others and compare ourselves to them and it, it’s easy to bring ourselves down a little bit. How do we get away from that?

Peter: Believe it or not, Jon, it’s something that I actually deal with too. I’ll get on Facebook and I’ll say, “Wow, they’re presenting there or wow, they’ve got a bigger crowd than I had.” And it’s hard because what we see on social media we compare ourselves to and it might not necessarily be always real. And I think if we’re gonna do something about it it means that we have to look at our own practices.

So one of the things that I have tried to do is post less about what I’m speaking on or where I’m speaking and I post more about some of the other experiences I might be having. For example, when I’m in California and I get to see my nephews, you’re gonna see a picture on social media, it’s probably gonna be of me with my nephew and his fiancee or my other nephew, as opposed to me in front of a crowd speaking or something like that.

I think that’s one way I’m trying to not be a part of the problem. Now on the other side when you talk about the writing of books, I think what happens sometimes is that we forget who we’re surrounded by. You are a guy who has a wife and two kids. I’m a guy that has a partner. I write when I’m on the plane. You don’t always have the opportunity to write. You have a full-time job. This is my full-time job.

Jon: Mandy, what are your thoughts on that? How do you deal with what’s going on on social media and comparing yourself?  You are working on a book too, but you’re also presenting. You also have a family. How does this affect you?

Mandy: I’ve seen some of the same things but the way it affects me the most is in the number of things that I perceive other people as doing.

I see if people are posting. I’m listening to this podcast and I’m reading this article and I’m reading this book, and I think to myself, “Why am I not doing all of those things? Why am I not able to manage my time in a way that allows me to do that?” And then on the flip side, I struggle with balance.  I have four kids of my own. So I’m trying to balance them and balance my day job and balance these other things. So for me, I have access to so much information that I don’t know how to deal with it all.

Jon: I’m with you because I see people that have these book groups and I’m not going to lie. I haven’t read a book in a while. I’ve started some, but I haven’t finished them.

Jon: Peter, I’m gonna go back to the one thing you said about how you compare yourself. I know that you are traveling all over the world, you’re publishing books. I mean, come on, you’re really doubting yourself?

Peter: Yes, because you have to keep in mind that sometimes we live by the numbers, right?  I’m a full-time consultant and author. There are times that I look and say, “Are my book sales as good as everybody else’s?”  There are times that I have deep insecurities.

When I was growing up I was a struggling learner. I always felt less than other people that were around me. So I think I still go about things from time to time with that lack of confidence. Now there are other times that I’m in it, I’m focused, I’m ready to go, I’m good.

I try to approach all of this in the way that I used to approach when I was a long-distance runner when I was competitive. It was less about the other people that showed up to the race. It was more about making sure that I am doing the best possible work I can do in my own race. It’s that old Nike slogan on a poster I used to have in my bedroom growing up which was, you know the only one you’re competing against is really just yourself.

I try to remember that, but yes, I absolutely have insecurities from time to time.

Mandy: Peter, what would you tell a brand new teacher who is in the classroom and they have amazing ideas. But they have self-doubt because the teachers that they work with don’t agree with some of their ideas?

Peter: You know I present a lot about the research of self-efficacy, and the reality is that self-efficacy is the belief we have in ourselves that we can make something happen. The research shows us that we do not feel efficacious in every single part of lives, every single part of our career. So you have to sort of let yourself off the hook and look at the strengths-based model and say, “These are some of the things that I’m good at.” And that it doesn’t matter if the other teachers in the classroom across the hall from you are doing what you are doing. What matters is the impact you are having on your kids.

I  work with John Hattie and John says, “I don’t care about the strategy you’re using, I care about the impact.” Look at the impact you’re having on students, and when it comes to seeing all of these great ideas, choose one. Don’t try to do them all because if you try to do them all you just don’t have the capacity to be able to do it right now. Just take that one and start building on it.

Jon: Peter, and I think you touched on something, how it’s easy to be hard on ourselves. Mandy and I have talked about this a little bit, and I think even though this show is about self-doubt and trying to decrease or maybe handle it better, I think a little bit of self-doubt is inevitable and it’s going to happen. I think we get upset at ourselves when we doubt ourselves. We see all of these motivational posters, we watch videos, we listen to music, we pump ourselves up but when we’re out there taking chances, taking steps, trying new things, well it makes sense that we’re going to doubt ourselves a little bit and that’s okay.

Mandy,  you were talking about a quote that has to do with self-doubt and how sometimes it’s okay.

Mandy: Yes the quote that I had found is related to self-doubt. It’s “Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it.”  I’ve realized that I have that fear and I need to do it anyway. And so that quote really reminded me of that.


Peter: Yeah, I think that’s an excellent point because the reality is, If I didn’t have moments of self-doubt, it means that I wasn’t trying to grow. So I think not letting fear prevent you from moving forward is what’s going to be most important, because we all have it.

Jon: I think that right there is a perfect place to wrap this up. Peter, Mandy and I want to thank you so much for taking the time to come on Teacher’s Aid today.

Mandy: Thank you for your attention and remember to always put your own mask on first before helping others.


Editorial Leam
Editorial Team
This article was written by a collaboration of editors and columnists on the FLR editorial team or guest contributors.

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