Fashion Studies Online Tutor Feels Like an Impostor

planning tutor Nov 06, 2017

In this post I am going to help you realise that just because you have never taught subjects you'd find in fashion studies online before, it does not make you an impostor.  We all have a right to do things for the first time. This post has been 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.

Do You Have 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 there are several factors that 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 own 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 to teach online.

Here's what you might be feeling if you have a touch of impostor syndrome.

  • I'm not good enough.
  • I don't have enough expertise.
  • I've never taught anything before.
  • My success has been partly down to luck.
  • I would hate to start and then fail.

These are just some of the thoughts people have or say about themselves when they have an experience of being an impostor.

I can recall having this experience myself once or twice in the past. For example my first presentation 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.

Famous People With Impostor Syndrome

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

Ways to Overcome Impostor Experience

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:

Focus on adding value

Your impostor experience is worrying about you and what might happen if you get found out from lacking in some way. But hey, 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.

Recognise those you have helped

Keep a log of the people you have helped. When you get feedback from anyone make a note of it. If it's an email print it off and store it in a folder along with any thank you notes you get. Or save them to a folder in your email system. Soon you'll have dozens or little pieces of evidence that you are good enough.

Just get on and do it

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 wider 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).

Don't fret over titles and qualifications 

These are used 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!

When you don't teach, the world lacks

If you don't share your passion and expertise, the world has been robbed of something unique. Students that could have had a better experience just missed out. Professionals that could have overcome some personal challenges with their business, missed 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.

Start With What You Do Know in Fashion Studies

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 key thing is to start, and if you need support in planning your course we've got just the support you need with our short course on how to plan your course effectively.

Click here to sign up now and get immediate access today.

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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