In this post I am going to help you to understand that just because you have never taught subjects, you'd find in fashion studies online before, this does not make you some kind of impostor. We all have a right to do things for the first time—this post I have created because of a conversation I had with a potential course creator recently.
She said that she didn't feel qualified to teach online because she had no formal teaching qualifications. "Why would someone pay to be taught by anyone that had never taught before?", she asked.
I told her she was suffering from a degree of impostor syndrome.
According to Wikipedia
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud".
The term was first used in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. People exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved, despite there being plenty of external evidence of their competence.
The researchers found several factors suggest someone may have the syndrome. And according to research, 70% of people will experience at least one episode of this impostor phenomenon in their lives.
So it could happen to you when you start thinking about fashion studies and creating your online course. You can read more about it in detail here.
I'm interested in the feeling of impostor syndrome that relates to people that would like to enter the field of fashion studies online, creating their own fashion courses on subjects they know inside out and are passionate about, and yet don't feel worthy of teaching online.
Here's what you might be feeling if you have a touch of impostor syndrome.
These are just some of the thoughts people have or say about themselves when they have experience of being an impostor.
I can recall having this experience myself once or twice in the past. For example, my first presentation was to a group of people, that were older, wiser and more qualified than me. I can remember feeling that I wasn't good enough to do the presentation, and it knocked my confidence going into the meeting to present. But afterwards these same people I felt a fraud amongst beforehand, came to me and praised me for the excellent presentation I had given. I had underestimated my achievements, my experience and my skills.
Because around 70% of people are going to experience having the feeling of being an impostor in their lives, it's no surprise therefore that the famous will also experience it.
“I still think people will find out that I’m really not very talented. I’m really not very good. It’s all been a big sham.” – Michelle Pfeifer
See even beautiful, talented. Models. So too, actresses.
“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.” – Kate Winslett
There are several ways to overcome feeling like an impostor or fraud when you start planning your online course and the doubts start creeping in when teaching fashion studies. These are the top five that relate to course creators:
Your impostor experience is worrying about you and what might happen if you get found out from lacking in some way. Courses are not about you; they're about the student's needs, not yours. Fashion studies, whether online or in the classroom, are not about stroking your ego, they're about helping others overcome challenges, difficulties and pain. So start focussing on the value you can bring not what you might miss.
Keep a log of the people you have helped. When you get feedback from anyone makes a note of it. If it's an email print it off and store it in a folder along with any thankyou feedback, you get. Or save them to a folder in your email system. Soon you'll have dozens of little pieces of evidence that you are good enough.
Just do what you can, say what you can and do the best you can. If you don't and hold back, you'll never get to make the difference you could have made. It's unlikely that your students are going to hold you accountable. Nobody is expecting you to be an expert.
They just want your help and support so as long as they get that they'll be happy. And I guarantee you this, if you are teaching a fashion topic based upon your years of working in fashion education or the broader fashion industry, you will have nothing to lose and everything to offer others.
As the saying goes "in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." You just need to bridge the gap between what you know (what you see) and what they need to know(where they are blind).
These are to summarise an achievement, but that's as far as it goes. My grandfather was one of the best teachers I knew, and although he taught me all about the wild birds that I could see flying around my village and be eating at the bird table, he had no formal qualifications on the subject. He'd just learned from experience. Not once did I ever question his credentials!
If you don't share your passion and expertise, the world is lacking something unique. Students that could have had a better experience just missed out. Professionals that could have overcome their challenges are missing out. When you stay silent, the world misses out. Recognise you have what it takes. Your unique background gives you a wealth of valuable content and expertise to share – even if you don't know what that content for a course is yet.
If you were to list everything that you know about a particular topic, you'd be amazed how much you know. You will have forgotten more than your students know, so there's never a fear that you're going to run out of material. Just start with what you've got.
There are five phases of course development which are planning, designing, creating, publishing and promoting. You will have ample opportunity to make sure that when you develop your course, it meets the needs of your students.
The critical thing is to start, and if you need support in planning your course, we've got just the help you need with our short course on how to plan your route effectively.
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Cheryl Gregory is the Founder of The Fashion Student Hub, a marketplace for selling online fashion courses, and We Teach Fashion teaching fashion subject experts how to create and promote their own online courses, generate revenue and serve the growing need for online education in the fashion sector.
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