School is hard, and being a child at school is even harder. From academic hardships to peer pressure, students often find themselves struggling with their self-esteem. In his book series called “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, self-esteem expert Jack Canfield mentions that 80% of children entering the first grade scored high on the self-esteem inventory, but that number decreased to 20% by fifth grade and a mere 5% by the time they reached high school.
As a teacher, being present with your students gives you the opportunity to play an important role in raising these young learners’ self-confidence and allowing them to believe in their own abilities. Here are a few tips to help your students feel more confident:
Encouraging your students to be more independent and try new things will help them directly see what they’re capable of achieving. Assigning creative individual tasks, like reading/writing assignments, argumentations, problem-solving activities, and creative and artistic projects will allow students to see the final result of their own work and receive your feedback on what’s good and what to improve in the future.
Giving your students specific jobs to do all year long will also make them feel like an important and essential part of the classroom. Depending on their age, classroom jobs can go from board eraser, paper collector, and plant waterer to computer helper and attendance taker…
Praising and encouraging students, either in private or in public, is a very important motivator. To be even more effective, it is encouraged for feedback to be very specific. When congratulating a student, be specific about what impressed you the most in their work, for example:
“I was impressed by the way you articulate your ideas very clearly”
“Good job on the creativity you showed in this assignment”
This also applies to constructive feedback and being precise on which areas they could improve in or what they could have done better. Stay away from blunt phrases such as “This is wrong” or “That’s a mistake” and try to use positive sentences like:
“That’s a great start. Perhaps you could use more precise adjectives for your description”
“You’re on the right track; try and have another think about that last paragraph.”
You can also help them learn from their past mistakes and understand what they did wrong and why, by asking them about their train of thought or how they arrived to this final answer.
You can also help kids celebrate accomplishments, whether it’s a better grade or an achievement in a different field, by congratulating them about it.
Teaching positive self-talk starts by modeling it. You can start by sharing a positive thought in the morning, like “Today is going to be an awesome day!”.
Being positive in a difficult situation is also important, as it teaches the student not to feel burdened by a setback. You can encourage a student who just got a bad grade by telling them they will be okay, they can learn from their mistakes to improve and to keep trying their best.
To share an atmosphere of contagious optimism, you can try to give genuine compliments freely and keep sharing positive affirmations with your students. You can have a list of positive thoughts hanging in the classroom and ask your students to pick one every day and apply it to their day.
Discussing the benefits of positive self-talk with your students is also extremely important to help them understand how it helps and that it’s not just about repeating words but believing them too.
Goal setting is a technique that can help struggling students improve their self-image, increase their awareness of their strengths and weaknesses, and experience responsibility, decision making and success. Reaching their specific goal will give students a positive experience of achievement and personal satisfaction.
According to Education World, there are six key secrets to successful goal setting that you can communicate to your students:
You can provide students with goal-setting templates to clearly define their goals.
And don’t forget to encourage them along the way to grow and reflect on their growth, which will allow them to see how far they’ve come after some improvement.
As a teacher, you will have the opportunity to notice your students’ strengths and talents. You can highlight a student’s strength by pointing it out and offering them opportunities based on their strong suits and giving each student a chance to shine. You can also be the one to encourage talented students to follow their passions by reminding them of how good they are at what they do and guiding them to the best way to channel their gifts.
According to Howard Gardner, all human beings have multiple intelligences. Some are more dominant than others and can impact the way a person can learn and study.
There are 9 types of intelligences in total:
The types of intelligence most focused on in the school system are verbal-linguistic intelligence and mathematical-logical intelligence, but all intelligences need to be nurtured and strengthened for students to thrive.
Teachers around the world are starting to embrace Gardner’s theory in the classroom and adapting to different learning styles. With the rise of the use of multimedia in the classroom, it has become easier to use different instruction techniques such as visuals, sounds, motions, physical and social experiences, and so on.
By doing some research and adjusting your teaching style to different types of intelligences, not only will you help each of your students retain information better and boost their confidence levels in their learning abilities, but you’ll also be nurturing all their other intelligences. Helping older students identify their dominant intelligence can also be very beneficial for them to incorporate it into their studying techniques and learn the way that will benefit them the most. Reinforcing areas of natural strength gives students a positive sense of accomplishment. Emphasizing strengths also maximizes the possibility that students will view successes as based on their own resources and efforts.
Acknowledging and celebrating the diversity of your students in the classroom will make them feel comfortable about who they are. Here are a few ways of doing this:
– Pronounce names correctly: At the beginning of the school year, make it a point to learn the correct pronunciations of your students’ names and preferred pronouns
– Review your class library to include accurate and diversified content from different backgrounds and points of view
– Celebrate diverse role models
– Encourage your students to embrace their own heritage by asking them to share traditions and experiences
– Celebrate diverse events and occasions. You can hang a Diversity Calendar in your classroom and talk about the event of the day and its origins.
Ultimately, you’ll succeed in boosting self-confidence of your students by being there for them, making them feel seen and heard, and creating a safe learning space for them to grow, create enjoyable experiences, and feel comfortable to be themselves.
As Ashley Bryan- the award-winning American author and illustrator of children’s books- once said,
“Having a safe space to imagine and dream and (re)invent yourself is the first step to being happy and successful,
whatever road you choose to pursue.”