5 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome as a Teacher
I have had clients who don’t want to put their names on their online courses because they feel like it would lessen the value of the course. Some others don’t even wish to make a course.
While I understand why they may feel that way, it’s essential to work through this and learn that a lack of qualifications doesn’t make you less worthy of teaching a course.
When I ask my friends, my hairdresser, the bartender at my neighborhood pub, or anybody to create a course, their instinctual response is: “I don’t have a degree in that; I just do it.”
And those are the same people who have been doing it for years and have developed a valuable skill. The only thing stopping them from sharing their talent and skills with the world? “I don’t have a degree in that.”
Imposter syndrome: loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.
The first thing you need to remember is: you are not alone. Self-doubt creeps into the minds of all professionals. Writers feel it, graphic designers feel it, and many teachers and online coaches feel it too. They may be told a thousand times that they’re doing a good job, but it’s never enough because they haven’t reached the impossible standard they have set for themselves in their minds.
How does this affect me as a teacher?
Imposter syndrome has several consequences, not least of them being undercutting your confidence and self-worth. This lack of self-worth can interfere with your ability to enjoy teaching, leading to anxiety that you are not doing a good job, further fueling your imposter syndrome.
The more anxious you feel, the more stressed you get, and eventually, you will reach burnout.
So what should you do? Bite the bullet and just put your name on the course? Well, that won’t be enough, because the people buying your course can tell whether you’re confident in your material or not. People are always looking for an excuse not to do something. So any hint of underconfidence on your part will give them a reason to click off your course.
Before adding your name, you have to find a way to deal with your imposter syndrome. And here are five ways you can do that!
1. Admit you don’t know something.
We make too big a deal about educators having to know everything. Technology is ever-evolving, and we’re learning new things about the world every day. It’s unrealistic to expect you will be on top of things all the time, so allow yourself the breathing space.
You can always keep your online course up-to-date by providing your students access to a resource library that you update every week. That way, you don’t have to worry about missing out on a detail or two in your videos.
And when asked something during a Q&A session, humbly accept that you don’t know something and will get back to them later. Students can tell when you’re faking and you put undue pressure on yourself to perform. Simply saying “I don’t know” releases you from this pressure and allows you to be freer when recording your course and interacting with your students!
2. Be inspired by competition, not intimidated
Sure, you may not be the only person teaching a bartending course on the internet. But you can either shrink away and convince yourself you have nothing new to offer, or you can study your competition and see what unique value you can bring to your course.
Everybody starts with fear and doubt, so comparing yourself to anyone is a pointless exercise. You can look to other coaches for inspiration, but don’t compare your experience or educational background with theirs.
Everything you need, you already have. Set your own goals, focus on creating your syllabus, and let your unique personality bleed through. If you’re funny, you can make your lessons light-hearted and humorous. Some prefer a more nurturing approach, which focuses on social-emotional learning. Whatever it is, be authentic to yourself.
3. Speak to a fellow online coach
You aren’t the first to suffer imposter syndrome, and you won’t be the last! Reach out to somebody who has taught online courses before (it doesn’t have to be the same subject or industry!) and talk to them.
This relationship will instill confidence in you and ground you when your fear takes control. They may also have helpful strategies for teaching that you might find helpful!
4. Don’t be afraid of bad reviews or comments
Things won’t always go as planned, and that’s okay! We all make mistakes; it’s the most human thing in the world.
When you get a bad review on your course, don’t take that as a reflection of your intelligence or competence. Isolate the information on the course, see what needs fixing, and focus on only that.
Jumping to rectify an error rather than defending yourself or disappearing shows that you are willing to accept a mistake and fix it immediately because you care more about giving your students the correct information than looking smart.
Will your audience be polite about what was lacking in the course? Probably not. But it’s your job to take the useful stuff and ignore the snark.
5. Know that you will only get better!
Writing a course, or just outlining one, requires a ton of research, and you deep dive into rabbit holes you may never have explored before! This pushes you to read more books on your subject, share these resources with your students, and build up your skills even more as you teach.
Over time, you will get more comfortable making online courses because you have been building a repertoire of skills and tools. Soon enough, you’ll be putting your name to them without a second thought!
If you’re thinking of creating a course and need some guidance on structuring and scriptwriting, you can contact me through my website! I offer additional services like branding, animation, voice-over, and promotional content creation.