Professional Practice

When Teacher Envy Creeps In, Remember to Think Like a Minimalist

Teacher envy is an evil force with the power to take over your confidence. You’re exploring blogs, you’re browsing Pinterest, and suddenly, you come upon the blog of a teacher who did the exact same stop-motion animation project you did, only she did about 10 more things and took it to the next level.

A small cloud forms over your head. “I suck. Why can’t I be like X teacher or Y teacher? How do they have all that time? If I only stayed at school a little longer…”

Sometimes, teacher envy can be very positive. It can motivate us to stretch outside of our comfort zones.

But sometimes, teacher envy can be paralyzing. It can shake our confidence, it can make us feel as though we’re ‘never enough’ and it can breed jealousy.

It also breeds a lot of excuses. 

I am here to say – You don’t have to make excuses for yourself.

This idea really hit home as I was working with one of our presenters for the upcoming AOE Winter 2015 Online Conference. Each and every presenter featured in the conference brings something to the table that’s unique, something in which they are an expert. They could not reach this expert status without a few things:

1. Focus
2. Passion
3. Baby Steps

One of our presenters, Johanna Russell, has made it her teaching mission to flip her classroom. This means recording videos every day after school, creating packets to differentiate, and working every day to chip away at this larger goal. During the conference, she will share her complete guide on how to do this, including all of the lessons she’s learned along the way.

teacher envy

Consider for a moment if Johanna had split her time into a million other big areas. She wouldn’t have left time to meet her goal. Her laser-sharp focus on her goal has allowed her to succeed in this one very important area.

I am reading the book “The Power of Less” by Leo Babauta right now (which I will talk more about in my presentation, “Teach Like a Minimalist,”) and it states that we must focus on fewer, bigger goals and slowly chip away at them. If we don’t have focus on one goal, we will be all over the map on every goal, and never make visible progress.

The Power of Less

This seems obvious, but how many of us actually do it?

Each and every one of the presenters at the AOE Conference is a living example of doing this well. They are real teachers, in the trenches, trying to balance everything. But they have found a way to become experts in one area and are now confident enough to share it with the world!


Whether you’re attending the upcoming conference on January 31st or simply browsing Pinterest, you may start to feel as though you will NEVER be able to carry out all of the amazing ideas you will see.

I am here to tell you it’s ok. Think like a minimalist. Pick a focus area and never look back. Focusing on your favorite ideas, your talents, and your passions, will get you much, much farther in your career and boost your confidence more than being ‘everything to everyone’ ever will.

What gives you “Teacher Envy”?

What is one area of your teaching you want to dig into and spend more time on this year? 


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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