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Overcoming Fear As An Elementary Music Teacher

Fear is a part of life for everyone. It stands in the way of achieving our dreams and makes us second-guess ourselves. As elementary music teachers fear can paralyze us in the classroom and hinder our growth and effectiveness. In order to make an impact on our students and our communities we have to learn to overcome our fears.

Fear of not being good enough

Thinking that we are not good enough is one of the most common fears. Self-doubt and the imposter syndrome plague almost every teacher, even some that have been teaching for more than a quarter of a century.

The way to overcome this fear is to learn to love your own teaching situation (except for truly bad or abusive situations) and see others as inspiration, not a comparison standard. When we appreciate and learn from others instead of allowing the amazing things we see others doing make us feel inadequate, we can try new ideas and improve.

Fear of failure

Fear of failure can slip in and sabotage many of our ambitions as elementary music teachers. Maybe we were considering putting on a musical this year, or taking a local performance opportunity, but we suddenly decided against it with no solid reason why. It's most likely fear of failure.

The way to overcome fear of failure is to connect with why we want to achieve our goal, create a plan to achieve the goal we are afraid of failing at, and then give it everything we've got. It is also very important to visualize what it will be like when we've achieved our goal in vivid detail so we will have something to aim for.

Fear of Rejection

When we come up with new ideas to present and share with other music teachers and others don't receive them well, it hurts. Presenting and sharing lessons, songs, and new ideas with other teachers can be a vulnerable thing because those whom we share with might meet our enthusiasm with disinterest, or even worse with a "no thanks". Fear of rejection can also happen in your own school community when pitching ideas for school improvements or concert programs to your administration.

To overcome fear of sharing ideas with other music teachers, start by sharing your ideas on a smaller scale and work you way up to larger groups. Remember that, you have insights experiences, and ideas that others may need, and by sharing these things you can help you fellow elementary music teachers. To overcome fear of sharing suggestions or requests with your administration, start with smaller asks, and move up to bigger ones.

Fear of trying something new and looking foolish

Have you ever tried a new lesson, song, or dance with your students and it just fell flat? Have you ever felt silly or foolish in front of them and got too embarrassed to try new things? Teaching music is a vulnerable thing because we have to use our voices, and our bodies in ways other teachers simply don’t. If you aren’t a strong singer, it can be embarrassing to sing, if you aren’t very kinesthetic, showing you students a dance may be daunting.

There are two things that will make this much easier. One is keep an air of confidence and never let your students know that you feel embarrassed. With enough confidence and a witty retort, even tripping and falling can be played off with dignity and grace. The second thing you can do is use audio and video examples for things that you struggle with. Your students may learn better watching a video of a specific dance than if you tried to model it for them.

Fear and anxiety during observations

Maybe you have it all together on a regular day, but when you are being observed you freak out because you know you are being watched and feel like you are being judged. This feeling is similar to test anxiety or making more mistakes when you are recording yourself. It puts a false sense of pressure on you.

To overcome this you can two things can help. First, learning how to stay present is one of the best things you can do. You can do this by slowing things down a little and being very intentional with everything you say and do. Your students will respond better and you won’t feel rushed, like everything is a blur. The second thing you can do is have one of your administrators or another person observe you so you can get used to the feeling of being watched while you teach. If you can’t secure someone, you can get permission to videotape yourself as you teach. You can get new insights on what is and isn’t working and the feeling of being observed is still there. Just be sure not to show any of the students’ faces in the video.

These are just a few of the inner fears that many teachers face everyday.

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What fears are you still working to overcome?

What victories have you had along the way?

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