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Student Confidence

May 10, 2011

As a teacher, I see the stark difference between confident and non-confident students.  A confident student answers questions with pride.  The non-confident student answers with doubt.  The confident student does not hesitant to ask a question in class.  While the non-confident student keeps questions inside.

What can a teacher do to create an environment that feeds student confidence?  I will not pretend to know the answer to that question but I will state what has worked for me.  One of my main goals this year was to offer my students more choice in the classroom.  This has completely changed the environment.  My students are hungry to learn.  They want to do more and learn more. This year has taught me that more choice leads to student passion, and in turn student confidence.

As we are nearing the end of the year, each week I have a few of my third grade students volunteer to teach my class.  Last week, I had a student create his own Standards of Learning review math LiveBinder.  He went through the Livebinder on the Interactive White Board leading the class in a math review session.  The students were engaged.  I was impressed.  And the student teaching had his moment.  Two weeks ago, I had a two students teach a twenty-minute lesson on the Tsunami in Japan.  They created a poster with fliers.  They had data and pictures.  Now they are collecting money to donate to the Red Cross for the victims of the Japanese tsunami.  Again, the class was engaged.  I was impressed and the two students teaching had their moment.

The last example I will give is one that truly moved me as an educator and learner.  Last quarter, each of my students completed an independent research project.  They did an amazing job.  But, it is what happened afterward that has truly moved me.  The day the students finished presenting their project, I had two students go home and create a whole new research project.  The two students arranged to meet so that they could complete an additional research project on shark attacks.  They came back to school the next day with an amazing poster and presentation.  Again, the class was engaged.  I was impressed and the two students teaching had their moment.  Amazingly, one of those two students is shy, sheepish, and for the most part lacks confidence.  Or did.  Since she had her moment, she is turning over a new leaf.

@irasocol once said to me that a classroom should be similar to the Apple store in New York City.  All year, my students have been transparent with their work.  They have not been ashamed to share, and they want to collaborate.  So now I have a class where confidence is feeding confidence all because I gave them choice, a voice and an opportunity to have that shining “moment”.

Give your students their moment.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Erica permalink
    May 13, 2011 12:57 am

    Inspiring! We could all take lessons from you!

  2. May 13, 2011 4:19 am

    Good on ya (Aussie for great stuff). I am an ex primary (elementary) teacher and congratulate you. I am learning to do the same with my teenage students who have dropped out of school.
    I rejoice when they show initiative, take ownership of their learning and start to become self directed.
    You may like this recent post by Seth Godin.
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/05/self-directed-effort.html

    Keep up the good work and enjoy your holidays. In Aussie, our year is nearly half way though.

    • May 16, 2011 12:53 am

      You seem like an outstanding teacher. I commend you for your work. I look forward to learning more from you.

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