FEA spring panel: Imposter syndrome

FIU’s Future Educators Association (FEA) chapter invited local professors, psychologists and teachers to speak in front of more than 50 students and future educators at its annual spring panel.

“The FEA spring panel offers our students the opportunity to engage in an interactive panel discussion centered around current and relevant issues affecting learners, and gain insight and understanding about the topic from a group of experts.”

Claudia Page, FEA faculty advisor

This year’s panel was titled “Imposter Syndrome: A Sense of Not Belonging,” and was based on a TedTalk by Dena Simmons who discussed how students of color confront imposter syndrome in the classroom.

Imposter syndrome is the perception of feeling like a fraud because of an inability to grasp or believe in your successes and is an issue that thousands of students across America struggle to deal with. They believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.

The panelists included four faculty members: Dr. Remy Dou from the Department of Teaching and Learning and the STEM Transformation Institute, Instructor Melanie Morales from the Department of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Andy Pham from the Department of Counseling, Recreation, and School Psychology and Dr. Maria Lovett from the Department of Educational Policy Studies. Additionally, the panel gained the expertise of local Broward County Schools’ high school English teacher and FEA advisor, Susan Ortiz.

Each panelist shared their experiences with imposter syndrome, discussed first-hand feelings as well as the psychological effects it impacted on their students. The panelists expressed how imposter syndrome had influenced their careers, whether through teaching, receiving grants or being cited as knowledgeable in their field by their colleagues. They also stated that students struggling with imposter syndrome were not often the most noticeable because of their achievements, and emphasized the importance of reaching out. Marialejandra Ruiz, FEA secretary, enjoyed listening to the panelists talk about Imposter Syndrome from their perspective.

“It was such an inspiration to hear educators speak about a topic that they experience and how they have learned to handle it, as well as help their students grow.”

Marialejandra Ruiz

Other topics discussed include what types of behaviors could lead teachers to promote imposter syndrome in their students accidentally, how special education students are influenced by their perceptions of their abilities regardless of achievement and what role high-stakes testing plays in imposter syndrome. In response to an audience member’s question, the panelists discussed the importance of meaningful and specific praise as one way to promote a student’s self-image.

Finally, the audience wanted to know: “How can you prevent imposter syndrome as a teacher, or even as another student in the classroom?” The panelists came to the consensus that the most important way to limit the impact of imposter syndrome is to leave space for open and honest conversation in the classroom.

“Seeing all of these students, alumni and faculty passionate about education and discussing how to progress in the field was truly an impactful experience.”

Mekaeyla Mirabal, FEA events director

FEA hopes the future and current educators in attendance all learned how they could be a part of the change they hope to see in the classroom.

Karina Bhutta contributed to this article.