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Author Bio: Cindy O’Sullivan
It is the first day of your new teaching job.
You walk through the school door and there it is: fast heartbeat and the shrinking fear of not knowing anyone. You don’t know who to talk to, you don’t know how things are done, and you don’t know how over-the-top professional or friendly you need to be to your students, over and over again.
Oh, and you don’t even know where to get the good coffee.
And for most people, that is just the beginning. A new job can stir anxiety, make you feel as though you are an outsider, not good enough or feel smaller than you really are.
However, the sooner you face these fears, the sooner you can work comfortably and start making an impact. Here are 5 helpful ways to face your fears, calm your nerves and build more confidence at your new teaching job.
1. Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking
As a teacher, you will be facing a large audience. And one of the most common obstacles teachers face is the gnawing fear of public speaking. Imagining yourself standing in front of your class may seem terrifying at first.
So, in order to conquer this fear, you will need to take action. Begin by teaching an individual, then a small group and work your way up to a larger group. These steps should help you ease out the anxieties and gain confidence along the way.
Walking into your new job with a tension-filled body and clenched fists will not only wear you out but it will also make everyone, especially your students, tense and on edge.
You will be short and snappish with others since that is how your body operates. You might be less inclined to talk and start a conversation with new co-workers since you are in your self-protection mode. Plus, you will not be in a place to do some good work since you are too focused on yourself.
So relax. Breathe naturally. Loosen your shoulders. Listen to your body. And when you feel it tightening up or becoming too tense, inhale, exhale and make a quick decision to loosen up and relax.
3. Walk Tall and Confident
Consider your body posture.
Students tend to see everything when they’re not listening to your lesson. So make sure you are not slouching and that you are standing straight up and holding yourself really well.
People who are unsure and filled with anxiety tend to slouch, so walking tall along the hallways will give you an air of confidence that will make students respect you.
4. Remember Why You Are There
The fear of a new teaching job in a new room with a new desk can easily make you forget what you are doing there in the first place.
Thus, it is quite helpful to remember why you are there. Remind yourself that you are at your new job since you were chosen— among all the candidates— as the best individual for the job. Remember, that you are there to make an impact on the lives of your students.
Remind yourself why you were so excited about getting the job. Whether it is how you grow, because of what you get to do, the difference you get to make, or the value you can add, remember those and focus. Some people consider executive coaching in order to help them remember why they were chosen and achieve professional growth.
5. Accept Criticism
As the teacher, you’d think that you need to be mistake-proof and perfect all the time, since you don’t want your students outsmarting you. Wrong!
If you have been given some feedback from your students or you’ve been corrected, use it as a tool to change and learn. By accepting and acting on criticism, you can turn a negative into a positive which will not only help build confidence but also help improve your practice.
6. See Your Co-Workers As People Too
Part of the fear of a brand new job is comparing yourself to older colleagues and thinking that everyone around you is so much better in some ways— because of how much they do and what they know— since they’ve been there longer.
However, this is a normal brain reaction, trying to make stuff up. Remember that everyone around you is imperfect and incomplete. They have their own potential, history, losses, wins, weaknesses, and strengths. And comparing yourself to your co-workers automatically makes them look better keeping you fearful and small.
The truth is that we are all people, and we have all been faced with a new job before. So, the next time you find yourself sizing yourself up with new co-workers because you think that they are so much better than you, smile and remind yourself that you are all in the same boat.
7. Normalize New
New is scary. That is just how it should be. If it was not scary at all, it would only mean that you have done it all before or just following something that someone has already carved out.
Your brain lights up when you are in a new situation, and where the outcome is uncertain. So, the fear of teaching in a new environment is just your brain doing what it is supposed to do. And if you think anxiety and fear is the problem, it’s not. It is perfectly normal.
When you’re filled with fear and you feel like screaming, pause. Reassure yourself that you have come too far to succumb to fear now. Tell yourself that you are not going to die and push through the fear.
With time, this too shall pass.