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How to Act Confident When You’re Not [Episode 115]


Click below to hear how to act confident in the classroom:

If you’re a beginning teacher or teaching a new prep for the first time, everyone’s advice is always to fake it till you make it! We’re conditioned to believe that you need to project confidence to show your students that you’re qualified to be their teacher. But is that narrative what’s best for your students? I’ve had many conversations with teachers about how to act confident when you don’t feel that way, and my answer may surprise you.

It’s normal to want to display a sense of confidence towards your students when you’re in charge of the classroom. But I want you to think about the benefits of being honest and humble with your students instead. Being able to humanize yourself, show your flaws, and share your mistakes with them lets them know it’s okay for them to do so as well. However, I do share the two things you should feel confident about and how to stay firm in those beliefs. 

It can be intimidating to stand in front of students for the first time and act like you’ve been there before. Although my answer on how to project confidence when that’s not how you feel may not be the answer you were looking for, I promise it’s exactly what you’ll need to be confident for your students.

Topics Discussed:

  • 2 definite ways you can feel confident while in the classroom
  • Why the fake it till you make it mentality isn’t the answer
  • The importance of being honest and humble in front of your students
  • Examples of the importance of showing your students that you’re human as well

Resources Mentioned:

Related Episodes and Blog Posts:

Connect with Rebecca:

More about Secondary Science Simplified: 

Secondary Science Simplified is a podcast specifically for high school science teachers that will help you to engage your students AND simplify your life as a secondary science educator. Each week Rebecca, from It’s Not Rocket Science, and her guests will share practical and easy-to-implement strategies for decreasing your workload so that you can stop working overtime and start focusing your energy doing what you love – actually teaching!

Teaching doesn’t have to be rocket science, and you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to simplify your secondary science teaching life so that you can enjoy your life outside of school even more. Head to itsnotrocketscienceclassroom.com/challenge to grab your FREE Classroom Reset Challenge.

Rebecca 0:00
Last week, I shared with you all an email I’d gotten from a first year teacher struggling to bounce back after having made some mistakes and having some conflict with some parents. And so if you haven’t already, you should go back and give episode 114 Alisson. Especially if you have ever made a mistake or had a bad parent teacher conference, I think it will hopefully encourage you. And now in today’s episode, I kind of want to talk about another conversation that I had with this teacher, where we got onto the subject of how to project confidence, even when you don’t feel that way. Like how do I act confident in a classroom, especially in my first year of teaching, when I feel like I have zero confidence. And so that is what today’s episode is all about. Let’s get into it. This is secondary science simplified a podcast for secondary science teachers who want to engage their students and simplify their lives. I’m Rebecca joiner from it’s not rocket science. As a high school science teacher turned curriculum writer, I am passionate about helping other science teachers love their jobs, serve their students, and do it all in only 40 hours a week. Are you ready to rock the time you spend in your classroom and actually have a life outside of it? You are in the right place teacher friend. Let’s get to today’s episode.

Okay, so you may have seen the title of this podcast, how to act confident when you’re not and been like, awesome. She’s gonna give me all the answers. Here’s my answer for you of how do I protect confidence that I’ve got it all together? Even if I don’t have it? The answer is, you don’t. Okay, truly, that’s the answer. I could in the podcast right now. But then it would only be what, two minutes long. So I will expand on it for your sake. And that’s what I want to start off by saying like, I get the urge to want to feel this way. Especially if you are a newer teacher, you’ve probably heard a million people tell you that you need to fake it till you make it okay. But I think especially if you struggle with anxiety, or if you’re like a recovering perfectionist, this motto is not going to actually help you like, I like fake it till you make it. It’s just like mentally power through it. It’s just like, you can’t like make yourself feel that way. Okay, so instead, this is how I think it is better to approach this idea of having confidence when you don’t have it. And that is instead of, you know, acting some type of way that you’re not. It’s be honest, and be humble with your students. Okay, you are not on a pedestal, you are not a perfect person. You make mistakes all of the time, just like your students do, and you don’t know everything. And I think it is so good for our students to see that. To see your humility and admitting those things because they rarely see it. All that they’re seeing coming through their phones that they have their faces glued to is confidence, confidence, confidence, y’all, I will never get over my favorite like reels or like I watch tiktoks on Instagram as reels but like Tic TOCs or when people show videos of like 14 year olds nowadays and they like have glammed out makeup, perfect hair cute clothes on and they’re doing some sort of like dance. And then it’s like me when I was 14, and it’s some it cuts to like someone’s home video of them singing a Spice Girl song and like, just with retainers, and it’s like absolutely tragic. And I like could not relate to that more. I think what our students have projected at them is this picture of perfection. And they don’t need to see more perfect people, they need to see more humble people, they need to see humility in action. Okay. And I think it’s just really natural to kind of think of your teacher as even if they don’t like you as like, just so other. I mean, I’m sure all of y’all never ever seen any of your teachers outside of school, like running into a teacher in a grocery store. And they have like alcohol in their cart, and you freak out because it just feels so weird and wrong. But it’s like no, like, they’re like a grown adult human like, there were 21 in the United States. They can buy alcohol, and it’s fine, but it feels so weird. Because it’s so hard to match your teacher outside of the classroom. You’re like, no, they just live in here all the time. That is what our students naturally are coming in with. And so one of the best things we can do is humanize ourselves in front of them. Okay, and I got a crash course in this my last full year of teaching in the classroom, unintentionally. A Crash Course I did not sign up for. I’ve talked about it before, but like we struggled with unexplained infertility. That was our diagnosis for over a year and ended up being 34 months of trying until we became pregnant for the first time but that was after we’d already adopted our oldest so my students had I had been very private about our infertility stuff, but they probably knew something Was that because I was leaving all the time for doctor’s appointments and blood draws and, you know, scans and things like that as we waited the diagnosis, and then when we did decide to pursue adoption, instead of fertility treatments, I was very open with my students about it. Because if you’ve ever adopted, it’s, it’s kind of chaotic. Someone told me once that people in crisis act like they are in crisis, and a lot of these expectant parents are in crisis. And so, you know, you’re getting a call, like, very last minute, to drive up maybe somewhere to meet somebody, or to show them your book, or to meet with a social worker meet with a doctor to review, you know, a case study for a potential situation, like, there’s just a lot of chaos. And so I felt like I kind of had to tell my students about it, they would know why I was bopping out randomly to take phone calls. And you know, my teacher next door was stepping in. So I was honest with them. And I was honest with them when I got or when we got our first adoption placement. And we thought we’re gonna adopt a little girl in January, and I prepared them for maternity leave, and what that was going to look like. And the day that we got the call that she was in labor, and she wanted us to pack her bags, like come to the hospital, I told the kids like, see you at nine weeks, you know, or see you in eight weeks, whenever, however long was planning take for maternity leave. And then she ended up deciding to parent her child, which is 100% at her right to do, but then I had to come back to work. And my students saw, like so much humanity in me like how struggling I was upset, you know, I was on the brink of tears a lot of the time. And they saw that. And I think it was really, really good for them. I have some girls from that group of students that I taught that I taught them, they were seniors, my last year teaching and I had been with them for four years, I had been their biology teacher, their physical science teacher, some of their AP biology teachers. So I’d had them several times, and we got really close. And even now like when I’ll post a picture of my kids, because we have three beautiful children now, they’ll message me and be like, it is so crazy to see what has happened in your family after being there for the beginning of it. And what a gift it was to like, just witness it. So I just want to encourage you, it’s okay to be imperfect, and to be honest, and to humble yourself before your students. And I think the other way I experienced it that year was when I taught AP biology for the first time. You know, I straight up had to tell my students. And these are students I’d already had, like I said for two other science classes. Like they knew me and they knew I was on it. And I was sharp, and I ran a tight ship. And I had to say on day one. Like, I basically knew as much AP biology as most of y’all like I’m going to be studying right alongside with you. Y’all are used to me giving you a study guide with objectives and vocabulary for the unit at the start of the unit because I’ve already written the whole unit in the test. And right now I’m just going on a day by day basis, and I’m gonna do my best to get you the study guide at least two days before the test. Like that was just where we were at y’all. And they would ask me questions in class. I’m like, Yeah, literally no clue. Let’s google it like, and we died laughing because we kept joking like Google is Mr. joiners, co teacher and Paul Anderson, I couldn’t think of his name for a second, Paul Anderson from Bozeman science, he is also your assistant teacher, because we watched all of his videos. So I just think it’s better to be honest and humble than it is to be fake confident. Okay, so I want to encourage you to be humble, I think it’ll really serve your students. The second thing I want to say is, you can feel confident though and assured I think in two things, you know, let’s not put our confidence in our hope. And our, the rock that we’re standing on, let’s not put it in false things like just trying to, you know, make ourselves feel better so we can suck it up and get in there. Let’s put it on things that actually matters that then when your anxiety or whatever rears its ugly head, you can point to actual truths that can’t be argued because they’re facts. Okay, so let’s let’s look at the facts, the things that you can really actually feel confident in one, the systems you have put into place. Okay? Y’all know I’m a huge fan of systems, routines, procedures, and not only establishing them, but clearly communicating them and consistently reinforcing them for maximum effectiveness. I really don’t like conflict, okay. I don’t like dealing with it with with my students and classroom management, and I don’t like it with my own children, like it’s exasperating. I don’t want to sit there and constantly have to, you know, do conflict resolution with you. I don’t like it, I don’t like disciplining you. But here’s what helps me I feel like I can have a level head and be super calm and not get emotional and just be very black and white when it comes to classroom management, conflict resolution, whatever, when I have clearly established communicated and reinforced fairly, whatever system routine or procedure I have. So for example, if I have said, you know, I do not accept late work, let’s just use this example. I’ve said it. I’ve told students 1000 times I’ve warned them it’s there’s a poster in there that says no late work is accepted. And then it’s due It comes at you and as being disrespectful because you won’t accept their late work, and they start talking back to you, you can say, I have a policy where I do not accept late work, I have communicated it 123 however many times and XYZ manners, there’s a sign right here that reminds you that, you know this, I put it in the syllabus that you signed with the behavior, they want to take late work, I’ve made myself clear that late work will not be accepted. And now you’re being disrespectful to me about something that I clearly warned you about. And we will not have disrespect in this classroom. You will not speak to me that way. And I will not speak to you that way. And so now I’m going to remove you from the classroom until you’re ready to be respectful, you know, and I feel like I can actually be calm like that, because I’ve made it so clear. I feel that way my kids too. Like if I say, Hey, don’t pull your sister’s hair. Okay, they do it again, if you pull your sister’s hair again, you will be disciplined, you will be taken out of this room and disciplined. They do it again, I really walk, I’m able to discipline them and talk to them after and say, I told you if you did this, this was the result you chose. So chose to do that. You have freewill, you chose it. Here’s the consequence. And I can say really calm. I feel like the times I don’t feel calm, or when I feel guilty because I didn’t really clearly communicate it. But now I’ve or I didn’t really consistently reinforce what I said. And so now I’ve kind of let it get to the point where it’s a little out of control, and it’s kind of my fault. But now I’m angry. And now I’m like annoyed that you got to this point, and I’m putting it on you. And really it was on me. And so I really think if you can establish some systems, rules, routines, whatever, and be super consistent with those, then you can have confidence that you’ve done kind of that backward. And that proactive work. Everyone always asked me, How many do I need. I always say, however many you need to keep you calm. But that you will also consistently reinforce some people I know don’t like to have more than three, because they’re like, I’ll never actually do more than XYZ. Other people I know have 25 They have a whole list of things, the way we do this the way we do that my rule for this, because that’s what they need to say calm. And I think it’s totally fine either way. Now, if you’re like how do I even get started? Like what systems do I need? What are you even talking about, I have some other podcast episodes I’ve done before, that I think might be helpful to listen to and kind of give you some ideas to get started. So one of those is last year, Episode 76. I did like an interview reflection. And I kind of walk you through a way to audit kind of your year. And you can go ahead and listen to that and do that again now mid year and just kind of say, Okay, where are we? How do I feel about where we’ve been that kind of thing. Another episode will be episode 33. That was at the beginning of the year, last year, the beginning of the school year, and we talked about mistakes to avoid at the beginning of the school year, I talked about some of the systems I think you need to teach right away. And again, it’s not the end of the world. If you don’t do it the beginning the year, it’s obviously better to teach these things from day one. But at any point, you can draw a line in the sand and say we’re gonna do things differently from now on the school year. Okay, so I think episode 33 would be helpful. I think episode 74 is really helpful if you specifically have a lot, if you lack a lot of confidence around labs, with labs, or especially a time where you’re like, I don’t know what I’m doing. And I need to pretend like I do, I think episode 74 would really help you. So I would listen to that. And then lastly, just with classroom management in general, I did a whole series on it this last August, the episode 91 of that series, I talked about some of these routines and procedures, like I just mentioned, that I make sure to clearly communicate and consistently reinforce with my students. So episodes 3374 7691, I will link all of those in the show notes, which is always able to be found at it’s not rocket science classroom.com/whatever The episode is so like for this one slash episode 115. Or depending on your podcast player, sometimes you can just kind of like swipe up when you’re listening to an episode and you’ll see it all there. But it kind of depends on where you’re listening. So you can feel confident in the systems that you’ve put in place and actually taught your students. And then the second thing I want to say is, you can feel confident in the passion you have for your students and for doing this job. Well. I know for a fact that if you’re listening to this podcast, you are passionate about your students, and you are passionate about doing your job well. You would not be taking the time to listen to this if you weren’t, okay. So find some peace and some assurance in that truth. You love your students you want them to learn and you’re gonna do the best you can as an imperfect person to teach them. Okay, but it’s okay and really encourage for you to admit your imperfection here. So you are looking kind of for like an action step at the end of this episode, like where do I go from here? I would encourage you to reflect on your current systems. Use some of those episodes I referenced to kind of guide you through it and maybe create some new systems and procedures that you’re going to teach your students for the rest of the year. to kind of help you there and have confidence in those that you’re, you’re know you’re being proactive about some of these things. I think that would really help. And I would love it if you haven’t left a review to do so today. And I want to encourage you to leave a review. If you’ve ever lacked confidence in this job if you’ve ever tried to fake it till you make it. Leave a review today and hopefully be encouraged to feel like you don’t have to pretend any longer and you can be honest and you know, humble yourself before your students.

All right, teacher friends, that wraps up today’s episode. If you’re looking for an easy way to start simplifying your life as a secondary science teacher had to It’s not rocket science classroom.com/challenge to grab your classroom reset challenge. And guess what? It’s totally free. Thanks so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you here next week. Until then, I’ll be rooting for you teacher friend.

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