Are you a new or veteran teacher who struggles with the comparison game? Does your heart drop when your students talk about how much they loved their old teacher? Are you feeling inadequate? I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. Comparing yourself to other teachers can be dangerous, but it’s totally normal.
I’ve been teaching for 11 years and I still compare myself to others, especially on social media. I shared about the pressure we sometimes put on ourselves and others here. Sadly, I think it’s just human nature. When I see other teachers singing hip songs to teach grammar, or transforming an entire room for a science lesson, a little voice plays in my head that what I’m doing is inadequate, or not good enough. Then I remind myself that the little voice isn’t really my story. I remind myself that although I don’t do all the things I’m seeing on Instagram, I have excellent classroom management and crazy organizational skills that rival Martha Stewart. I have a beautiful classroom that’s a safe space for my students. We have fun fort parties and laugh together…a lot! So my advice to you is just do what you can, what you’re comfortable with. We’ll never be able to to everything and continuously comparing ourselves to others takes us away from what’s important, the work we do in our classroom.
Comparing yourself to former Teachers
I was crushed the first time one of my students raved about their first grade teacher. That teacher’s a rock star, so I get it. But when you have those babies in your classroom, you want them to like you best. But here’s the thing. It’s nothing personal when your kiddos say that. They’ll be bragging about you next year, it just comes with the territory. Comparing yourself to other teachers (specifically former teachers) doesn’t make you feel so good about yourself so you can stop, I promise! Your heart and confidence will thank me!
I asked my friends in my Facebook group about how they deal with the evil comparison game and here’s what they had to say.
“My advice is to try not to take it personally and I know it is hard. I was a new teacher last year and stepped into a position where the teacher that left had 2 paraprofessionals which I then had in the classroom, I felt as though I was always being compared to her and it was hard. You have to know that you will make your mark on the students YOUR way, Be confident in your own abilities and love your students. They will remember this the most!” Karen
“I still compare myself after 14 years of teaching. It’s normal and OK to feel how you are feeling!!! New teachers coming in always have new ideas and it leaves me thinking my ways are old and boring. I love having new blood so I can learn how to be a better teacher. Just be YOU, be genuine, honest, loving and kind. My motto is that I am strict but loving. Try not to take it personally, though that is easier said that done. We learn from our mistakes and being willing to learn from them is the best you can do. You will have kids next year that will come back to you and say how much they love you! It will happen!! It may not feel like it but it will happen. Admit your mistakes when you need to, tell your kids how much you care and show them that you do. They will know and appreciate you for it. You survived your first year, PRAISE JESUS! That’s a feat all it’s own. Remember you are good enough and even if they don’t show it right away they will come back because they loved you too!!!” Kelly
“Nobody seemed to like me my first year teaching either, but when I run into those kids at a grocery store now, they chase me around like I’m flippin’ Bon Jovi. Obviously they liked me, and they were just trying to get under my skin at the time. They wanted to see my reaction to hearing that every teacher but me was their favorite. At the end of the day, they’re kids and they want to push your buttons! When you’re dodging them in public years from now– you’ll know they loved you!” Jessica- The Whimsical Teacher
“You will always compare yourself to others but you can’t let it take over how you see yourself. The same goes for taking everything the kids say to heart. They’re kids and will almost always be brutally honest about how they feel. But the fact they are kids often means that their short attention spans don’t hold on to the same thought for long. They will love you just as much as other teachers but not until they don’t see you every day.” Victoria
“They always love you more once they’ve left you.” Jen
“I’m a first year teacher and I feel like I compare myself to other teachers too. I feel like the thing that has really gained my kids trust this year is telling them that I made a mistake, and we laugh about it together, and we talk about how to fix it, then we fix it. It teaches them that we all make mistakes and we can fix them and move on. My kiddos have been telling me they want me to be their second grade teacher next year. You have to build that sense of trust with your students and not worry about what others teachers are doing or thinking.” Rachel
“It’s also my first year teaching, and one time another one of my students tattled on one of my girls for saying she wished she was in the class next to mine instead. It hurt at first, and I do constantly compare myself to her. But she has alternative seating, she is great at coordinating colors, and is very fun. I was able to rationalize with myself that I will get there in time- it’s just like working out. You don’t see results right away, but you can’t give up, because then there never will be results. Just do the best you can, give all of yourself, and trust that it’s enough.” Geneva