Confidence In Middle School

Middle school students are often underestimated by both parents and teachers. It is a time of life that can be overlooked, overshadowed by the formative years in elementary school and the determining years of high school. But we at The Tenney School know that this time of life is extremely important for young people, regarding both academics and character. After all, what students learn in middle school is what they will take with them into high school and beyond. Here are five ways that teachers can build confidence in middle school students.

1. Respect them.

Middle school is a major transition for students, as they go from being little kids to being responsible young adults. Many grown-ups, however, fail to recognize that these students are growing and becoming more mature, and still treat them like children. Nothing could hurt a student’s confidence more. In fact, a belittling attitude prevents students from developing good character, since young people often act in accordance with how they are treated. As a teacher, the way you interact with your students has a huge impact on how they grow. Give your students respect. Do not talk down to them. Listen to them. Let them know you have high expectations of them because you believe in them. Respect is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a student.

2. Relate to them in a positive way. 

Students thrive on encouragement and affirmation. A teacher, of course, must correct students when necessary. But if we only point out what is wrong, our students will quickly lose their spark for learning. Remember, education is not just about correcting mistakes. It is also about reinforcing good behavior and knowledge and adding to that. So remember to keep your student-teacher rapport positive and encouraging. A good rule of thumb is to give at least two or three words of praise for every word of correction.

3. Allow them to express thoughts and release energy. 

Every successful person in this world is someone who comes up with his or her own ideas and is willing to get them out in the open. But in order for ideas to get out in the open, there must be someone to listen to them and believe in them. And you, as a teacher, are that person for your middle school student. Do not think that you should be the one doing all the talking. Let your students express his or her own thoughts, even if they do not seem “right” or “academic.” Let your students give input on how they would like to perform various assignments. Allow them time to rest, move, and experiment class. A student who learns how to formulate, express, and carry out his or her own ideas will go far in life.

4. Show them how to do things right instead of just criticizing them for doing things wrong.

It is easy to tell a student, “It’s not right! Do it again!” and leave it at that. Parents and teachers alike are guilty of this. But this kind of attitude often leaves a student confused and at a loss for what they are supposed to do. They will try to please you, but if you are not clear about what you want, they will never learn to do it right. Thus, do not criticize a student for doing something wrong, especially if it is on the first try. Instead, slowly and patiently demonstrate how you might go about the assignment/project. This way, they will gain valuable life skills instead of becoming frustrated with themselves and you.

5. Maintain a spirit of empathy and patience.

Finally, remember the stage of life your students are in. They may be very intelligent, but they do not have the same life experience that you do. Take a step back and put yourself in their shoes when you are feeling frustrated. Would you have been able to do what you are requiring of them at your age? It is good to have high expectations for your students. But if you do, you must also approach each new challenge with patience, empathy, and enthusiasm. Let your students know you understand how hard it is for them. Walk them through each step of the way, explaining and re-explaining as much as you have to until they have internalized the information. Let them know you are not bored with them, but rather you are excited to see them taking baby steps in the right direction. This will give your student the confidence and determination to keep going.

If you would like to learn more tips to build confidence in middle school students or about how we do education, please contact us. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.