Sage Thrive Today Blog Student Mental Health Are you feeling incompetent lately?
educator wrestling with feelings of incompetence

Are you feeling incompetent lately?

As educators and administrators, we all have our lesson plans and strategic plans. But oftentimes, reality challenges our plans. This is certainly one of those times. During COVID we find ourselves operating in a condition that we did not think we were signing up for, but as always we must meet the challenge.

Silently, many of us are wrestling with feelings of incompetence, but don’t talk about it. We feel like we are supposed to have all the answers, but we don’t.

In my role as a consultant and coach, when I pose the question about “feelings of incompetence” there is a sense of relief when members of our coaching groups realize they are not alone in this feeling.

Why feelings of inadequacy are so common right now

Not only is managing students and schools challenging for educators during this time, often there is criticism to go along with all the hard work. Adjustments have to be made and they don’t always go smoothly. When that happens, there is no shortage of people who let us know.

Remember this: other peoples’ criticisms, and our own feelings, often do not reflect reality. Therefore, feelings of incompetence often don’t reflect reality.

Most educators are very competent and caring. However, when students are not signing onto class, or technical glitches happen, or when school needs to be temporarily closed and there are no definitive answers to the many questions that come our way, people get frustrated and want someone to blame.

So remember, if you were competent before COVID you probably are competent now. If you feel competent one day or week and not so on another, those can be the ever-shifting feeling states that occur during stressful times.

Students are also working in similar situations. Some are frustrated, isolated and feel checked out. We can often serve as important relationships and points of contact for them. So do your best to remember that you are making a difference and that you are competent.

Tips for keeping things in perspective:

  1. Talk with colleagues about how you are feeling and how they are feeling. It’s good to avoid dealing with this alone.
  2. Don’t work all the time. Get away from your computer and screens and do something fun and/or frivolous. In order to stay balanced, we all need times of regression.
  3. Remember that this time will pass and you will be back to working in a more familiar way. With that will come appreciation for how nice it is when things are normal and familiar.
  4. Your overall competence is not dictated by one-off situations and criticisms, so don’t give them too much power.


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