When a candle feels that they’re not enough

Teachers don’t like to admit it, but deep down we’re a terribly insecure lot.

Each morning we put on our strong faces, our superpower capes and our carefully tailored shields so that students don’t see our fears, our hesitations or our self-doubts.

If we cry in front of our colleagues or, worse yet- our boss, we feel like a complete failure.

Media portrayals of the minority of educators who treat students poorly only add to our pressure to perform.

Accountability hysteria means test results are published far and wide, suggesting a teacher’s worth is measured by a score on a test. And if you aren’t willing to constantly reflect on and update your teaching practices, you’ll find increasing numbers of apathetic and disruptive students in your classes.

In the midst of all of this, it is no wonder that candles, no matter how well-meaning, caring, hard-working and qualified, find themselves feeling the weight of not having done “enough.”

But do we, those same people who display such empathy, patience and compassion for the children in our classes, extend ourselves the same courtesy? Are we gentle enough to ourselves? https://ateacherislikeacandle.wordpress.com/2020/08/14/candle-self-talk/

If you’re like me, then the answer is probably no. You probably have at least once in recent years asked yourself if you’re a good enough teacher. Questioned if you should be doing more of this or that, or felt intimidated by other inspiring educators. In other words, you’re not alone.

What do I do when I feel this way? I write in my gratitude journal and I look at emails, cards and letters from parents and students whose lives I touched. When I have a bad day and I judge myself critically, I remember that tomorrow is another day.

And I harness the energy I could drown beneath to instead trudge on, accepting that to err is human, and that every day I am just a little bit more enlightened, a little bit more wise, a little bit more experienced, a little bit more resilient. And ultimately a little bit better at being a candle that lights the way for herself as well as for others.


  1. Such a good attitude to not become complacent and yes kindness to yourself is so important – don’t give it ALL to your students. You deserve compassion too as you’re human. Sometimes feeling a bit unsure can be a good thing; it is what drives you to keep doing better. You definitely seem to have the right balance and outlook 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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