Tag Archives: learning

Imposter syndrome & the emerging professional

I (Said) graduated from UofT’s Concurrent Teacher Ed. Program in 2014. Since then, I have had experience working as an occasional teacher and as a student affairs professional. I am currently working on my Master of Arts at OISE. I am sharing this to highlight that as a graduate student and emerging professional, the pressure to achieve is tremendous. Every year, I have felt my professional identity transform and evolve in numerous ways. Said “the teacher”, Said “the researcher”, Said “the professional”… it is overwhelming at times, especially when imposter syndrome takes over.

imposter-syndromeImposter syndrome is a collection of feelings of inadequacy despite signs of evident success. Those who experience it struggle with the fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’ or ‘not smart enough’, especially among peers and other professionals. Therefore, any success is often attributed to luck, downplayed, and rationalized as a means to mask a supposed lack of knowledge or expertise. Beginning teachers may feel like they do not belong in the classroom, especially if working within a school culture that does not value their contributions and perceives them as inexperienced. What they must remember is that they were deemed qualified to teach and are worthy of their position.

Similarly, graduate students may feel intimidated at their institution, especially when working with faculty members considered leaders in their research fields. However, I have come to realize that my voice has value and that insight from the sharing of ideas and heated debates can spark new avenues of inquiry and inspire those around me.  Isn’t it wonderful how being part of a research team/community of scholars allows us the opportunity to discuss, dispute, disagree, dispel, dissertate and so much more? I refuse to be trapped in a self-imposed cage, and if I ever feel surrounded by 20-foot walls, I will build a 21-foot ladder.

As I embark on a journey in academia, I recognize that it is perfectly normal to feel slightly out of place, as any novice would. Instead of emphasizing my invented unsuitably for this exciting new endeavour, I have decided to do all that I can to gain more confidence in my professional and academic life. If you ever feel like you are ‘not enough’, please remember what Christopher Robin once told Winnie the Pooh. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

After 2 Weeks We Tend to Remember…

I (Pooja) am taking a course at U of T this term which focuses on the practice and theory of teaching in higher education. When discussing approaches to teaching, the professor displayed Edgar Dales’ Cone of Learning graphic. Although this was something I was aware of, it served as a good reminder in how I design my courses and lessons each class.


Unlearning in Teacher Education


As a literacy teacher educator, do you feel you spend a lot of time encouraging your student teachers to forget what they have previously learned?  Lortie (1975) refers to the perceptions of teaching our student teachers developed (as elementary and secondary school students) as an  “apprenticeship-of-observation”. Lortie suggests “education students have spent years assessing teachers and many enter training with strong perceptions based on firm identifications” and maintains that these strong perceptions affect student teachers’ “pedagogical decision-making”.  This makes unlearning as important as learning.  How do you get your student teachers to unlearn?

Lortie, D. C. (1975). Schoolteacher. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.


Teaching as a Relational Practice

The Chronicle of Higher Education reporting on a survey of 30,000 college graduates, noted that graduates “had double the chances of being engaged in their work and were three times as likely to be thriving in their well-being if they connected with a professor on the campus who stimulated them, cared about them, and encouraged their hopes and dreams.” The article also highlighted both the sceptical responses to the survey as well as the potential value the findings could offer institutions of higher education.

See more at: http://m.chronicle.com/article/A-Caring-Professor-May-Be-Key/146409/


“The Secrets of Sugar”

I (Pooja) watched an eye-opening documentary on CBC’s Fifth Estate. The documentary sugaruncovers some frightening facts about the effects of sugar and the sugar industry. Most of us are eating way too much sugar on a daily basis. Surprisingly, sugar is added in food items such as ketchup, yogurt, soy milk, and salad dressings. There was one alarming segment in particular in which I couldn’t help but think about the effect of sugar on children in school. Research was conducted on a sample of lab mice to observe how they reacted when their sugar consumption increased. The results were disturbing. Before any sugar consumption, the mice were alert and able to navigate through the set-up maze. However, as sugar consumption increased, their alertness levels decreased significantly. They moved sluggishly through the maze, bumping into the walls along the way. Some could not even make it to the end. This made me think so many of our young learners who consume high levels of sugar from their school cafeterias, vending machines, convenient stores, and/or home. Although in the past decade there has been a push towards healthier food for our school-aged children, there is a need for a deeper awareness around all the places where sugars are hidden.

Learn more about “The Secrets of Sugar” here: