Creating Confident Individuals Through Classroom Practice
Studies consistently indicate that confidence is a significant predictor of academic performance. Confident students pay more attention in class, get along better with their peers and generally have a more focused and inquisitive attitude.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Laura G. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
As teachers, we must help our students navigate the inevitable uncomfortable moments that will arise. How can we boost their confidence and create an environment that leaves them with a feeling of satisfaction and empowerment? Here we’ll examine some of the things we can do in the classroom to encourage our students to believe in their ability to learn English as a second or a foreign language.
Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from a difficult situation. We create resilience in the classroom by helping students understand that progress is connected to hard work and perseverance. A successful classroom is one where mistakes are not shunned or rejected, but rather are expected and honored as valuable teachable moments. Saying things like, “I’m glad you brought this up!” or “Good point!” before correcting an error, puts the student at ease and in a receptive mental state. Using light-hearted humor, modeling self-correction (learning from our own mistakes) and praising students for their hard work are a few of the ways we bolster students against discouragement and generate a resilient “growth mindset” in the classroom.
Act in a professional manner
Behaving professionally communicates to the students that you are committed to their success and motivates them to achieve their goals. We can model the effort we expect them to exert by demanding the same from ourselves. Practice good teaching techniques such as not interrupting or correcting too much during free-speech activities, and when pairing or grouping students do so thoughtfully. A chaotic classroom is a stressful place for everyone, so techniques, like modeling the activity beforehand, using clear visual aids, creating consistent and clear classroom rules, and minimizing all unnecessary distractions, will reduce confusion and allow the students to execute the assignment to the best of their ability. Having lessons and teaching materials well-prepared beforehand cannot be overemphasized, as it creates a calm and confident atmosphere and allows the students to feel the same.
Also Read: 7 Alternatives to Boring English Worksheets
Empowerment - teach them to teach themselves
Self-directed learning is a form of learning that has gained popularity in the last few years because it puts curiosity in the driver’s seat. Allowing students to add their flavor to the syllabus goes a long way in promoting student engagement. We can encourage self-directed learning by involving the students in the choice of study topics and encouraging them to set their own ESL goals. Assist learners in researching answers to their questions and focus on strengthening their reading comprehension.
In Why And How Self-Learning Is Important  Njeri Karanja lists time-management, self-assessment, goal-setting and discipline as skills that students can develop in parallel to the academic lesson when engaging in self-directed learning. These skills not only boost confidence in the classroom but are useful in everyday life as well.
Create a sense of accomplishment
Reaching goals we’ve set four ourselves provides a huge boost to our confidence. When this happens consistently, we signal to ourselves that we can achieve anything we pursue. A teacher can nurture student capability by breaking classroom tasks down into measurable units where goals are systematically pursued, reached and celebrated. A syllabus will usually have a clear indication of what topics should be covered by which date, so involve the students in reaching those milestones with aplomb. Make your learning intentions clear and measurable. Be consistent in celebrating the milestones as they are reached and create a sense of forwarding movement and progress in the classroom.
Defensive behavior slows down the learning process by creating a cycle of inferiority, frustration, and refusal to accept help. Praise and encouragement will lower your students’ emotional defenses, allowing you to correct their mistakes without hurting their feelings. After completing a task, always encourage the students on what they did right before pointing out what they did wrong. Get to know your students on a personal level and recognize the effort and commitment they have offered to the class. Give useful feedback. Calling students by their names and pointing out their good choices lets them know that they are seen and valued.
As Samuel Beckett has been famously quoted: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” The practice is essential to fluency. Prepare a robust “Activate” stage for every lesson and organize groups in a way so that everyone has a chance to use the language learned in the lesson. Ask questions during the lesson that require the student to think and answer in English. When appropriate, use surprise quizzes, questions that require a tense-specific answer and small talk to help the students practice real-life English where conversations are not structured or rehearsed. Use repetition to teach essential phrases, role-play to practice common conversations and allow them to explore descriptions or test-drive their business presentations in a safe, judgment-free environment.
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In conclusion, it is quite normal for students to feel vulnerable and intimidated when endeavoring to learn a new language but a teacher’s behavior and overall classroom atmosphere can have a massive impact on not only the student’s academic performance but on their self-confidence inside and outside of the classroom as well.
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