Empowering Yourself as an Expert

About Alice Trosclair

Alice has been teaching for nine years. She currently teaches English III, English Language and Composition AP, and English Literature and Composition AP. She lives with her husband and son in south Louisiana. She also has hundreds of "adopted" children.

“Empowering teachers as experts” is the mission statement of The Educators Room. It is a powerful statement, but only true if we believe in ourselves as teachers. Many of us are made to feel like we are glorified babysitters, and we are belittled when we try to say what we feel, and when we hear it enough, we begin to believe it. Never forget you are an expert.

Here are some ways you can remind yourself that you are an expert:

1. Hang your degrees and awards. You earned every single one of those diplomas and awards. Only a third of Americans have a bachelor’s degree and you are one of them. Put it up in your classroom or your office as reassurance that you know more than the students. Put your teacher of the year awards up and your class completion certificates. Every class you took prepared you for this career and every class you continue to take makes you an expert.

2. Dress the part. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. This is a mantra that echoes all throughout job training. Well, you already have an amazing job. You chose to be a teacher. Your degree and certification are in education. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to dress the part. Yes, I know that you want to be comfortable, but if you want to be an expert you have to look like one. Dressing in t-shirts and jeans every day is not a way to earn the respect of parents, the administration, your students, or your district. (Of course, I am aware that in the lower grade levels dressing up is not really an option.) You do not have to wear formal business clothes every day, but you need to dress a step or two above the students. Dressing up as a professional makes you feel like a professional and it models for your students one aspect of being a professional. It gives you confidence, which is key to utilizing your expertise.

3. Know when to say yes and when to say no. To be an expert, one must take on responsibilities. Just teaching your class is a full-time job, but if you want to be taken seriously, finding a few extra opportunities might be your ticket to demonstrating your expertise. Go to district trainings, volunteer to take the technology class, or even conduct your own PD session. On the same note, do not take on everything that is thrown at you. You will not become an expert if you are dabbling in several different organizations or areas. If you take on too much, you will feel frazzled and unorganized.

4. Research. An expert does not wait for the newest teaching strategies or the newest ideas to be handed to him or her. The expert goes out and finds them. The internet is an amazing resource and I am not sure how teachers of years past did without it. Go online and look up lessons or new strategies. Go to your local book store and read up on your field. Observe other teachers in their classrooms and take notes, we are all experts after all.

We are in a field full of dedicated professionals. We are all experts in something whether it is classroom management, organization, or explaining the IEP. We need to see ourselves as experts in the classroom, only then will be taken seriously in the education field. Treat yourself like the professional you are and the rest will come.

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About the Author:

Alice has been teaching for nine years. She currently teaches English III, English Language and Composition AP, and English Literature and Composition AP. She lives with her husband and son in south Louisiana. She also has hundreds of "adopted" children.

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