An increasing number of students are struggling with self-esteem issues. All too often, they fall for the lie that “It’s worse to try and fail than not to try at all.” As long as they don’t put forth any effort, after all, they don’t have to be disappointed in themselves. In order to protect their self-esteem, students lower the amount of effort they’re putting forth and make little effort to accomplish anything. Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what will help them succeed academically. Many teachers are becoming increasingly aware of this issue, learning to guard against these negative attitudes in students. Teachers must work to build self-confidence in students in a way that encourages them to move on to bigger and better challenges, improves work ethic in students, and gives students the tools they need for success.
1. Offer Opportunities for Discussion
In many cases, students learn best by being able to discuss the information they’ve taken in. Not only that, discussing it lets them know just how much of the material they actually grasp and gives them the opportunity to learn what they’re missing in a safer environment than on a test or quiz.
2. Provide Learning Through Different Strategies
Different students learn through different methods. It’s entirely true, as Albert Einstein pointed out, that if a fish is measured by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its entire life believing that it is stupid. Teachers must provide students with classroom learning opportunities that fit with their unique learning styles in order to help them achieve academic success. Since odds are that there are several learning styles contained in a typical classroom, offering multiple styles of instruction is often the best way to provide this opportunity.
3. Acknowledge Accomplishments, Not Just Failures
It is the tendency of many teachers to correct incorrect behaviors immediately, rushing forward to show a student what they’re doing wrong instead of offering encouragement and acknowledgement about the things they are doing correctly. The best teachers, however, take note of student accomplishments, praise them for the things they do well, and support students in exploring the areas in which they excel.
4. Stay Positive
A negative classroom environment is one of the fastest ways to ensure the failure of every student in it. A positive attitude, on the other hand, can turn some of the biggest problems in the classroom around. There’s a much-cited story in education circles about a teacher who spent the first part of the year struggling with ill-behaved students. A couple of months into the school year, she happened across a paper with their IQ scores on it. The students were brilliant! Immediately, the teacher increased her expectations of these students, and before she knew it, the classroom had settled in line with her expectations. At the end of the year, the principal congratulated her on a job well done–but let her know that the list she’d seen was really of students’ locker numbers. While the story itself can’t be confirmed to be authentic, the attitude holds true: a positive teacher who expects much of her students will see much better results than a teacher who is negative and allows those emotions to color her expectations.
5. Stay Genuine
Kids are notorious for being able to tell the difference between someone who genuinely believes what they’re telling them and someone who is only offering empty praise. By remaining genuine, teachers can help build student confidence and encourage them to believe in themselves. Finding that one thing that each student is truly good at can be a challenge, but a teacher who can find it will be able to watch students bloom under their instruction.
Finding ways to build student confidence is part of a teacher’s job. At The Tenney School, we strive to provide this type of education for all of our students, supporting them in all of their academic endeavors. If you want to learn more about these strategies and how they’re offered at our school, contact us today.