My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

October 23, 2012

Second Guessing

Read other Slice of Life stories at
Two Writing Teachers

It's my 10th year of teaching in my current position, at my current school.  This year (for reasons I can't pinpoint) I've taken on a bad habit.

Second guessing.

I'm second guessing my instructional practices.
I'm second guessing my outlook on literacy.
I'm second guessing letting my students have free choice as well as leveled text in their book bags.
I'm second guessing nearly everything I'm doing.

It's exhausting!

On the other hand....

I'm great at brainstorming ideas for the classroom teachers in my building, always with the caveat, "I don't have a classroom, but have you thought about....?"

But then....

The more advice I give, the more I start to second guess what I'm doing and how I'm doing it.

I've always tried NOT to compare myself to other teachers, but then I launch into excuses.

"She's able to try that because her students have more language skills."
"She can accomplish that because she's more effective at behavior management."
"She just wants to impress others."

Second guessing makes for long days, upset stomachs and little sleep.

Maybe I should follow the advice I give to so many colleagues, especially our newest teachers:

"Pick one thing.  Dig in.  Research.  Try. Reflect. Try again.  But only pick ONE thing."

Time to find that ONE thing.  Time to stop second guessing.


  1. It's natural to second guess ourselves. However, it is also maddening, as you've seen. Trust yourself. You know what you're doing!

  2. You're right, second guessing others is particularly exhausting, but so easy to fall into, especially when we doubt ourselves.
    I feel for you with that caveat "I don't have a classroom, but . . " - classic second guessing. You are a valuable resource - those teachers talk with you about ideas for a reason - you have good ones! Don't open the door to second guessing before you even get the first thought out. (I say this as someone who struggles with that same phrase.)
    Good luck!

  3. I do the 'second guessing thing' moment by moment. I look at like sometimes structure and sameness is important...but then we also need to take mini trips from the norm as well.

  4. Ahhh. Second guessing. I know it well. Always wondering if what you are doing is the right thing. And you are right--it is tough to do all the time. I seem to be doing a bit of it myself lately. I like your idea of finding one thing to work on, to research. I'll go that route if you will.

  5. Look at second guessing as more of a reflection. Is it best practice? Is it best for kids? Is it purposeful? Your second guessings could also be great conversation starters to have with colleagues. :) I like Stacey's advice as well - Trust yourself.

    I think you have the best advice for yourself: "Pick one thing. Dig in. Research. Try. Reflect. Try again. But only pick ONE thing."

  6. Little bit of second guessing isn't actually bad, it's the too much of it that can stand on the way. I hope that you are good at listening to your own advice.