Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Process of Doubting



For the past month, I have not been feeling confident in my abilities to teach or make decisions. Even tough I knew that I have experience and I think I am very thorough in my work, the little voices in my head kept warning me of the possibility of failure and taking the wrong turn at any point during the academic year.

Nonetheless, the event that gave me a new sense of belief in myself took place a few weeks back after the Principal of the school asked me to take over a part of my Head of Department's responsibilities; that of reviewing all admission applications and recommend whether or not they are able to succeed and if we, as a school, are able to support them if they have needs.

I received the first set of applications a week after my HOD took a leave of absence. I reviewed the applications; scanning every page and highlighting the important parts. I wrote up reports and made recommendations based on the information given by the parents, teachers and the students' entrance exam and writing sample, all the time doubting whether I was doing as good a job as my HOD.

On one application, I made a recommendation which was accepted by the Admin. However, when the student arrived, the first thought that popped into my mind was that I had messed up. I felt a surge of emotions ranging from anger at myself and guilt for having taken the wrong decision. How could I have missed such an important part of the application? This student had weak conversational English and she needed so much support in her subject areas. What did I overlook and did not foresee? I could not sleep the night I met her believing that I was the one who failed her and did not do my job properly. I was not thorough enough, good enough, experienced enough. 

The following day, after writing to the administration to alert them of my suspicions and consulting with the EAL teacher, all the while debating whether I should tell them that it was my mistake, I dove into her file to do some investigating. I compared the writing sample that she had done in my class with the writing sample in her application file. 

And Voila! I could clearly see that there was a major difference between the two samples. It was obvious that the student was helped by someone which gave the school, and myself, a distorted image of her English proficiency and as a result, her needs. 

Relief does not even begin to describe what I was feeling following that discovery. After placing the student in the correct class, it was time to reflect on the devastating habit of questioning myself and my abilities. 

Questioning oneself to improve on a skill or trait is an important part of maturing and becoming good at what one does. It is constructive. What is destructive to confidence is to continually question one's ability without giving oneself the benefit of a doubt as well as never seeing that what one does is good enough. 

No matter how many times, my parents, husband or friends had praised me for the work that I do or the fabric paintings that I come up with, I continue to plant those seeds of doubt in my abilities. This incident though and how I discovered that it "wasn't me" will help in adding one positive step to my doubting process; investigate and research before committing or surrendering to that doubtful feeling.  

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”