*I've since updated my social media name to jack.of.all.learning. I thought this would come across better to parents and is also a representation of my ongoing growth in this crazy profession.*
I've taken to social media less as an energy-draining consumption tool, but more as an energizing story telling tool.
I've recently changed my social media name to "The Imposter Teacher." Why?
"I'm placing you here because it's your weak link," my college adviser told me talking about my student teaching placement. "It's a CAD program. You can weld, build, and everything else. You'll be forced to get good at CAD as well"
I wasn't sure I could 'weld, build, and everything else'. I was definitely sure my CAD skills were limited. Too limited to teach, that's for sure. I knew he was correct in saying that it was my weak link.
As per my program requirements, I had taken CAD classes. I "learned" advanced 3-D modeling software from a guy who used an overhead projector. No joke. I wasn't bashful in my exit interview at the school about their weak link.
In my first lesson, I froze up and couldn't decide if a particular line in a section view showed or not, leading the whole class into a student vs. student debate as I sweated under the pressure and waited for the bell to ring.
I wish I could tell you that was the last lesson I delivered like that.
Not. Even. Close.
In Course Title: Students, I wrote briefly about all of the number of names one could call my content area. I neglected to mention all of the course titles I am fully authorized to teach under:
Drafting/Computer Assisted Design
Woods, Metals, and Plastics Technologies
Automotive and Small Engine Technology
Power and Energy
Like...how does one even feel qualified to teach "Power and Energy"? Where would you even start?! Let alone also be able to teach the other content areas ranging from Graphic Arts to Small Engines.
I just turned 28, and entered this field at the 'early' age of 18. Do you think I've had time to master the pedagogical content wisdom behind every single one of these fields?
After sweating over which lines would show up in a section view or not, I was placed at the same school to teach the broad category of Industrial Arts. I had a woodworking and a metalworking shop, but the woodworking shop was tooled better so I favored that. Even though, I could count on one hand the number of fine woodworking projects I had accomplished.
After moving to another district, I found myself teaching a K-6 computers course. I hadn't interacted with a second grader since I was in second grade!
I'm currently facing a Spanish audience, and have never been to a Spanish speaking country.
Here's the thing: I'm not alone. Teaching is a strange, strange art, and even if you were an expert in Wood Finishing and I asked you to teach a course on that, you would probably still feel a level of imposter-syndrome from the mere fact that you are an expert, not a teacher of 25 teenagers!
Let me reassure: I am qualified to teach what I teach. I work really hard, pay my dues, and have jumped through all of the hoops. I would gladly step aside from my role if someone better stepped up and said, "Hey! I want your Spanish, CAD, Industrial Arts grades 6-12 teaching job!" This doesn't change the fact that sometimes I don't feel qualified, and that I'm not alone in that experience.
So my name change to "The Imposter Teacher" is a call to fellow teachers, to say, "Hey, you have to teach Digital Media with a Physical Education component this year? You got this!" Because it happens more than you know.