Impostor syndrome: SEL done right


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During the recent SEL lesson, students took a quiz to find out what kind of impostor syndrome they had, or if they had any at all. It was a refreshing take on SEL lessons, keeping me engaged throughout the 45 minute period.

Michelle Lin, Staff Writer

Every few weeks, Jefferson students give up an eighth period block for SEL, Social Emotional Learning. Each session, students gather in their homeroom and go through a lesson with their homeroom teacher intended to develop their social and emotional skills. The most recent SEL lesson focused on impostor syndrome, a psychological condition where someone constantly questions whether they are deserving of their current success and status.

Sound familiar? At an academically challenging school like TJHSST filled with intense peer pressure, many Jefferson students, including myself, often feel they don’t belong or aren’t good enough. While previous SEL lessons attempted to address these negative feelings and encourage students to communicate more, I felt that they lacked a certain quality of engagement and variety. Instead of adding something new to the table, they focused on common topics like stress and peer pressure, ones that I was familiar with.

However, the most recent SEL lesson broke apart from this pattern by introducing a relatively unfamiliar concept I’d only heard of in passing before. By learning about impostor syndrome, I was better able to understand myself and by extension, other Jefferson students. Rather than simply attributing everything to stress, impostor syndrome encapsulated many of the mindsets I’d seen at Jefferson and provided a more specific explanation of our personalities and worries. By using a more specific and less widely-discussed topic, the lesson grabbed my attention.

Furthermore, taking a quiz to determine what kind of impostor syndrome we had personalized the experience, giving students more of a reason to take an interest in the lesson. By sharing and discussing the varied results we got, everyone was able to get to know each other better. For example, I was labeled as an “expert,” while one of my classmates got “natural genius.” Rather than having to complete a generic worksheet, the “personality quiz” format piqued people’s interests and felt more like an exciting activity rather than a mandatory chore.

The current issue with SEL lessons is the bland, generalized approach the school takes with them. The classic lecture format leads to low engagement, especially considering students are tired after a long day of online schooling. However, the interactive quiz and more nuanced topic of the most recent SEL lesson improved on many of these issues in my eyes. Though the lesson wasn’t perfect, it was a step in the right direction.