4 Incredible Ways to Build on Your TEFL Teaching Confidence
There are many things I have learned over my thirty-plus years teaching students full time in classrooms, ranging from primary grades 2-5 and in junior high and high school. However, one of the most crucial things a teacher needs in the face of young and older learners is confidence! If the students suspect that the teacher has no idea what they are doing, it can be detrimental to the lesson and the teacher's ability to control the classroom situation. Having a confident teacher brings positivity to the classroom and comfort among the students that they are going to learn something valuable. Throughout my career, I wore many hats to grow myself and my abilities because I believed that a teacher needs to be a lifetime learner to follow in his or her footsteps. When the students see that the teacher is excited about learning new things and that their teacher doesn't already "know it all," it makes them excited and sometimes challenges them to "teach their teacher" something new!
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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Denise T. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Some of the ways I gained confidence over the years are volunteering to work in lead capacities in my school and my union. I became a lead teacher of my grade level in 4th grade, a tech assistant to our new technology aide (since I had taken college classes in computers), Student Council advisor for school spirit, science advisor for the junior high science competitions, science coordinator for our fourth-grade Team Friday sessions, and our little buddy Kindergarten classes, field trip coordinator, a Fourth grade overnight camp leader at our local Mountain Park, and Organizing chair for our union, to name a few of my "titles." Being involved in leadership roles kept me on top of my game, made me focus on what was most important for the students and the student body, formed close relationships with other teachers, who asked me to help them, and from who I learned many things from to improve my teaching and learning skills, and helped balance me and center me in my teaching career.
The ways that I boosted confidence in myself also crossed over into my classroom and how I ran it. I wanted the students to take charge of their education and skills, so I instituted things that worked for me in my life to help boost their confidence. Here are some examples of how I kept my faith and the students' trust going and growing. I used daily planners for the students to record their assignments, wrote notes to them on their graded work, hosted small reading groups and used my back table to reteach concepts that the students were not "getting," circulated the room for understanding, graded many classroom assignments together, to check for mastery, placed kids in multileveled groups to work together, played lots of current games with them to review upcoming tests, planned competitions for fun and learning, etc.
My colleagues and I had weekly meetings to discuss where we were in the curriculum and the textbooks and reviewed any struggles or breakthroughs we came across. We planned weekly and monthly hands-on activities for the entire fourth grade, such as math, cultural, social studies, PE activities, etc. I also sent a weekly email home to my parents that included the lesson plans, and I forwarded it by CC to my principal (headmaster) and the vice-principal (deputy), so they were aware of what was being taught in my classroom, as well as any upcoming events or tests. In the above ways, these organizational skills kept me on task and focused and helped my students to become more successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens, and effective contributors. My goal was to make them aware of the world and the people around them, teach them to invest in relationships and become lifetime learners who bring that learning back to the people they love and the new ones that cross their paths.
In the classrooms and out on the playground, I would have fun with the students with music, dancing, games, etc. I also worked with a bit of buddy Kindergarten class, with my students weekly, to help them grow and participate in cooperative learning. We got together daily at lunch with my colleagues and had weekly meetings to discuss things the principal had asked us to talk about. We took notes and turned them into her at the end of each month. We also planned several field trips for our whole grade level, appropriate to the curriculum, that were very exciting for the students, such as a visit to a rescue zoo, whale watching, and a rocket launch at our local airport. I headed all of these up since I was a lead teacher for my grade level. Lastly, my new teacher friends and I at grade level 4 went over our benchmarks to see what standards we needed to reteach and refocus on to help them gain mastery. My teacher friends and I became a family, and I sent fun emails, personal emails, birthday greetings, helped host monthly potlucks, etc., to invest in those relationships.
In my classroom, I planned parties, lunches, games, dress-up days, contests, incentives, auctions, etc., and my colleagues and I dressed up together for the fun days to promote school spirit and grade level camaraderie. Rarely a week went by that I didn't let my kids know they were loved, and I talked to each of them personally every day and called them by their names. I remembered how much it meant to me growing up to hear my mom tell me she loved me several times a day. That was my biggest confidence booster as a child, and love is still what boosts my confidence daily. So why wouldn't it work the other way around?
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