(lack of) Confidence

kitten and lion

I seem to spend my life veering between two extremes: certainty and self-doubt.

On the whole I am a fairly positive person, and tend to be optimistic about the future. I work hard, and think about my classes with a view to improving them.

Most of the time, I am fairly confident about my skills as a teacher here in Japan (brief aside: I think some teaching skills are universal, and some context-specific -future blog post perhaps?).

However, from time to time I have a bad class, or I’m tired, and I feel like I’m just going through the motions. Or I see, hear about, or meet an amazing teacher who is doing great things with their students. Or I think about what I could be doing, and how far I’m falling short. And then I feel like maybe I should do something else.

I’m not sure how to square this circle. Perhaps on the whole it’s a positive thing, serving to keep me from getting complacent, keep me striving to improve.

Or it could be a sign that my heart isn’t completely in this teaching thing.

Anyone else feel that they’re not good enough?

This is normal. It’s only the loonies and extremists that don’t doubt have any doubts. Great leaders in science will have constant doubt and be accepting when they’re proven wrong because they’ll have learned something. I think good leaders in business, politics, and education are similar.

When I ask our school’s teachers how their classes are going, it’s the ones that answer “Oh, just fine!” that I’m the most worried about.

This is one great advantage sharing with colleagues has–the support and exchange of ideas that strengthen our resolve to do our best. Hang in there!

Thanks Tristan! I guess in some ways it’s like Facebook -you only see everyone having fun, not what goes on in the other 95% of their lives.

I feel sometimes that I spend too much time at the extremes though -either way overconfident or slightly underconfident…

27 May 2013, 1:27pm
by Laura Macfarlane


I’m often unconfident about where I’m leading the school. Then I go to a conference and hear the Greats talk about their theories and practices and realise two things: that I’m largely on track but there is soooo much more I could be doing. Self doubt is natural and important, but it’s also energising.

Thanks Laura! If someone as successful and together as you are can be unconfident, I feel a lot better about my wavering 😉

I think we all feel like this at times. I certainly go through phases where I think I’m doing really well and then lows where I wonder what the point is and think about how much I need to improve. But I think that probably is a good thing. It helps you to come up with new ideas, it reminds us to pay attention to the atmosphere in the classroom, and it helps us seek constant self-improvement. But, it is also worth remembering that even when we are doing our best and providing what we think are great lessons, we are not miracle workers. We will still feel disappointment, and the day that you never do is probably the day that you have stopped caring.

Thanks GABJ 🙂
I agree it’s probably good to stay humble. Ganbarimashou

I admire your courage in putting this out there. I also think anyone who truly cares feels the same way, but few are willing to show it. This is especially true of business owners who are supposed to be sure and confident all the time.

I’m sure and confident about 83% of the time. The remaining 17% I just want to stay in bed and hide…


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