Teachers and tutors all know or have known a student who suffers as a result of a lack of self-confidence.
As a tutor, I have often had students tell me the reason that they sought out tutoring is simply because they are ‘bad’ at the subject in question. But often, when I see their first piece of work, I realise that for the student, being ‘bad’ at the subject is either false modesty or a genuine lack of confidence. There are many highly capable students who often struggle severely under pressure because of their lack of confidence in their own ability. Even if a student claims to be ‘bad’ at a subject out of modesty, they might begin to believe the narrative they tell, which can be highly damaging in the long-term.
Why should you build self-esteem and self-confidence in students?
Students with low self-esteem and low self-confidence struggle under pressure. Of course, this is not all the responsibility of the instructor, but teachers and tutors can have an important role in helping students develop in this area. Students who are confident in themselves are not only well-placed to do better academically, but it is also beneficial to their mental health to have high self-esteem and self-confidence. Studies have shown that positive encouragement works better than criticism in improving not only students’ emotional well-being, but also their academic performance.
Helping students to develop self-esteem and self-confidence will often unlock their greater potential – you show them that you believe in them, which, in the best-case scenario, will help them to believe in themselves. Why wouldn’t you want this for your students?
Strategies for enhancing self-esteem and self-confidence in the classroom
The classroom environment can be intimidating for many students. Whether you are looking after primary school or secondary school students, it is important to remember the issue of self-confidence and resultant self-esteem. Often, students feel that they don’t measure up to other students. So, how can these students be encouraged and helped to develop in a scary-seeming classroom environment?
- Focus on the positives: students who have low self-confidence will already focus on the negative aspects of what they are doing, so shine a light on the positive aspects of their work. There is no need to correct every single mistake such students make.
- Don’t compare your students to each other: students are necessarily going to be at different levels. In comparing them, you create unfair expectations for some students.
- Create realistic expectations with students. Building upon the point above, make sure you don’t have students aiming for goals which are unrealistic, as this can only exacerbate worsening self-confidence. By encouraging students to develop their own goals, you can increase a student’s sense of responsibility, and thus help them to feel a sense of autonomy over their own learning.
- Take a strength-based approach. By building upon students’ strengths, you demonstrate to them that you recognise the areas in which they excel, and thus encourage them in their overall learning.
What are your strategies for helping students to realise their potential?
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