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Will being shy make me a rubbish teacher?

(16 Posts)
Daftasever Fri 28-Feb-20 16:27:26

I currently work as an HLTA while I do my teacher training part time. I was observed teaching earlier this week by the head teacher. I was really nervous, and this really showed.

I got my feedback from the head today. She told me that I was too quiet, and need to be more assertive with the children. I feel like I’ve really let myself down, as I wouldn’t normally come across timid when teaching a group unobserved. In fact, I believe I’m usually very firm and no-nonsense! I don’t think any teacher can truly relax when they’re being watched, though.

So, I know I need to be more confident when I’m being observed, and I’ll work on that. But does being timid in the presence of adults watching mean I’ll be a bad teacher? I’m worried I’ll make a poor impression in future interviews for teaching posts. I won’t be able to put my best self across if I’m so nervous.

Any teacher tips welcome!

OP’s posts: |
ElderAve Fri 28-Feb-20 16:29:22

Observations is a regular thing as a teacher and whilst many don't enjoy it, you will get used to it.

Mydogatemypurse Fri 28-Feb-20 16:29:43

My sons teacher last year was a nqt and painfully shy. As parents we were concerned but the kids loved her and all did well.
I think maybe her style was just different and she clearly achieved what she was meant to.
In my experience the more you do something the more confident you get. Try not to focus on insecurities. We all have different personalities xxx

TheSandman Fri 28-Feb-20 16:31:18

Not a teacher myself but have you ever taken any acting lessons? Some of the exercises and drama games I have worked on over the years have helped my confidence and 'presence'. Simple posture, projection, and body language games helped. And were fun too. (Most of the time.)

TwoZeroTwoZero Fri 28-Feb-20 16:32:04

I'm shy with adults and hate having to talk in front of them, especially if I know they're there to judge me, but in front of children I'm absolutely fine. I'm a supply teacher so it's a little different for me but I regularly get asked back to certain schools, even schools where there is some challenging behaviour, so I can't be that bad! I've been teaching for 18 years this year.

Daftasever Fri 28-Feb-20 16:34:20


Truthfully, I’ll probably be that teacher - I’m not the best at talking to parents! I’ve never had that knack for small-talk with people I don’t know well.

However, despite my insecurities, I am confident in my interactions with children. It feels so rewarding when that gets acknowledged. I only worry that I can’t get those things across in an interview - especially if I’ll have to teach a lesson observed! grin

OP’s posts: |
RedRed9 Fri 28-Feb-20 16:38:18

I don’t think any teacher can truly relax when they’re being watched, though

You do get used to it. Honestly I’d ask to be observed more, by anyone who can spare you five minutes (it doesn’t have to be the whole lesson - just knowing that they’ll pop in and out will help). The more you get observed the more comfortable you’ll be with it.

Also; they’ll probably be happy that you’re being proactive about it. Tell them that you really want to crack your nerves so you can show them what you’re really like.

I do understand that this could sound like a daunting thing while you’re still in the early stages though.

userabcname Fri 28-Feb-20 16:40:21

I would have described myself as shy before becoming a teacher. I was often called "quiet but assertive" in observations. As long as you have firm boundaries, clear expectations and are able to adapt to your class (pep them up a bit if they are sluggish, calm them down if they are lively etc.), then I don't think you need to be shouty or all-singing and all-dancing. Building up a good rapport with your pupils really pays off and even if you are a little awkward during obs, it will be clear if the class likes/understands/responds to you. So, no, being a quiter/shyer person isn't necessarily a bad thing at all ime. I'm still quiet but a lot more confident now - this will, of course, come with time and experience.

Pentium85 Fri 28-Feb-20 16:45:53

Just a bit of advice, why don’t when you’re teaching a lesson that you know will be observed, adjust it so you’re not ‘standing at the front talking to the kids’. For example, an interactive activity where the children talk at the front or something where you aren’t the focus.

You learn so much on the job as a teacher that I have no doubt your confidence will improve

ElderAve Fri 28-Feb-20 16:49:06

Lots of teachers aren't very good with adults. They tend to be the ones parents don't like but kids love.

The head at the only outstanding school I worked at used to talk about getting the noticables right, which meant the things parents see. She expected a performance at the classroom door regardless of what else was going on. If you see it as a performance I think it's easier for shy people to do it.

Daftasever Fri 28-Feb-20 16:49:10


That’s good to know - I bet you’re a brilliant teacher! Children don’t judge you as harshly as adults, so it’s a lot easier to do the types of things that get their attention, that feel painfully stupid in front of an adult!

OP’s posts: |
Daftasever Fri 28-Feb-20 16:50:48


That’s good advice, I’ll suggest that next week. I am keen to work on this, as I don’t want something as silly as being shy to let me down x

OP’s posts: |
LolaSmiles Fri 28-Feb-20 16:55:07

I think there's a difference between having a quieter approach / a mild manner and being shy.

In the classroom I rarely raise my voice, have quite a happy lilt to my voice, very positive, but my classroom is full of high expectations, no nonsense on behaviour and is a calm and orderly place to work.

I know of all singing, all dancing teachers who are loud, extroverted, their lessons are bouncy and full of buzz and they're also amazing teachers. We all have our own styles.

This may sound mean (and it's not intended that way) but I think it's easier for less strong teachers to fly under the radar if they are louder or more extroverted as it's easy to mistake confidence for competence. Anecdotally this is especially the case in the training year when the louder members of the cohort seem to positively thrive on telling everyone else how great they are.

Could you ask your mentor to observe some quieter/calmly assertive colleagues? That might help give you inspiration and reassurance that you can be great without being loud.

noblegiraffe Fri 28-Feb-20 18:23:29

You’ll be fine. Teaching is an act - you can be shy in social situations but a boss in the classroom, because you’re a different person. Being called a different name (‘Mrs Giraffe’) helps maintain that perception.

The problem with being observed is that suddenly the two worlds are in the same room - the adults that you might be shy around, and the kids that you are a boss around. It makes you double-check yourself.

What you then need is a third persona. The driving test version that knows you’re being watched so does everything deliberately (like an exaggerated look in the rear view mirror, you make a point of saying ‘children today we are going over x again because I marked your books and found that lots of you did y and so we need more practice’) and is cool, calm and slightly more formal. It takes time to build this up, but you’ll be observed enough that you’ll get used to it.

You also build up a ‘talking to parents’ version of yourself.

Bluewavescrashing Fri 28-Feb-20 19:46:38

I have social anxiety but my teaching persona is quite extrovert. I'm really different in the classroom. I enjoy being that person. Children don't judge the same way adults do! In interviews and observations I never look at the adults, I get into the lesson and act a role. It works!

BigGreenGlasses Fri 28-Feb-20 19:48:47

I agree with the others. I am very quiet and I don't do well with adults, but I love teaching and I have good behaviour management.

I've had a few students since then and even those with a louder personality struggle at first with behaviour management. It's something that comes with a lot of work.

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