How can new teachers gain confidence at the start of a new school year? What are the fears new teachers face and what can they do about it? Lack of confidence is a major struggle for many new teachers that can be overcome with reliable teaching techniques to become more confident and competent.
What behavior to accept and how to communicate it
A subscriber to Etacude.com asked a very important question as a comment on one of the videos:
Teacher Maria wrote: “Misbehavior doesn’t affect my feelings (towards the students) anymore and I have learned to stay calm. But sometimes I wonder if I’m making the right decisions, since I am a first-year teacher. How do you pass their test? What should I accept and not accept? How should I communicate it?”
Many teachers have what is called ‘Imposter syndrome’ – a feeling of self-doubt that you are not good enough; that you’re not ready to teach. Even though they’ve had training and did some practical teaching before, they feel like they are not ready to take charge and properly lead a group of young minds to the next level. Perhaps they don’t think they can control the classroom; they don’t understand their subject well enough, or that they don’t feel cut out to do all the all the admin that goes with being a teacher. Whatever their reason might be, they have chosen this profession but are second guessing themselves in their ability to do the job.
The Crisis of Confidence is natural
First, know that all teachers have all gone through it. You are not alone. For as long as there has been teaching, new teachers have struggled with the crisis of confidence, of having faith… in themselves. The problem is that no one helps young teachers with this issue. I have spoken to many teachers on this subject and asked them what their mentors told them… Their reply? “Just give it time… You’ll get better over time.”
“Time? I don’t have time! I’ve got thirty souls in my class looking for my leadership and me, the leadership, is struggling with believing in myself. Give me something, anything to help me! Just not the same old story that I have to give it time!”
Luckily there is light at the end of the tunnel. I want to share some real advice on how to become a more confident and competent teacher, quickly.
Why is Teaching more Stressful than other jobs?
Teaching is stressful because it is a social job connected with a hundred other people and their families. If you mess it up, so many more people see it. The students go home, they tell their families. If you fail, they will fail and if they fail, it will ruin their lives. Also, your colleagues will see you and there is no greater shame for a teacher than being ‘exposed” as a sham in front of their peers and bosses.
So, when I looked it up and I searched for articles on teacher confidence, I found that so many teachers have difficulty with it too.
So, are you a first-year teacher, feeling that your second guessing yourself?
To all of you veterans out there – how long does it take before you start trusting yourself that you are doing the right thing? I’m well prepared, not afraid to ask for help, and have the best interest of my students at heart. Why do I feel so worried that I’m not teaching them right, or that I am doing something wrong? When does the comfort and confidence start to emerge?
The Process of finding External Confidence
Confidence – That is what we all need, right? Well. there are two types of confidence – external confidence and internal confidence. External confidence is what you project to the world and internal confidence is how you feel.
Let’s start with the external. What can you do to externally project confidence, things that you can control?
Finding external confidence is simply a process. Let’s look at things new teachers can immediately change:
Teacher Body Language
Body language says a lot! It affects how others see us, as well as how we see ourselves. In her ‘TED Talk’, social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that “power posing” – standing confidently even if we don’t feel it – can boost your sense of self-confidence and possibly have an impact on our chances for success. People who are scared or unsure tend to slouch or cower, so walking tall will give you an air of confidence. Hold eye contact with your students, breathe deeply and slowly. They are your students; you need to be strong for them.
Alphas stay Calm
Needy people are in a constant state of reaction. Because they are weak, they react to their environment, other people and situations. To be more powerful and confident, you need to desensitize yourself. You are the Alpha wolf, the leader of the pack, not reacting, but letting others react to you. Be calm and confident in your environment and so, when something happens or goes wrong, you don’t react to it out of neediness. You respond like a true leader. Students and situations will test you, so remember to stay calm and centered, like the eye of the storm.
Plan and Prepare
Next, you will never feel confident if your planning is inadequate. Prepare yourself well. The most common reason why new teachers are stressed out, is because they have not planned well enough and their paperwork is not up to scratch. Many work and worry from week to week, worrying about the future and if everything will work out. Clear your schedule, clear your weekend and do nothing until all your planning and assessment is ahead of schedule. You may say: “But Eric, I need to meet my friends to destress,” or “I have family commitments…” You are not giving your family or friends the best version of yourself if you always see them while being burdened by your work-life. Make your bed, take time out and get ahead in your admin.
Master your Subject
Plan lessons that align with curriculum goals. Read and understand the material you will cover with your students. The better you understand the topic, the more confident you will be in presenting and facilitating it. Ask an experienced teacher to review your lesson plan and to give you feedback. I understand that this won’t happen overnight, but as long as you are ready for whatever you have to do next, you will eventually grow into a beautiful, teacher-flower.
Always have a Plan B
Always have a backup plan in case your lesson doesn’t last long enough or if the students complete classwork early. Idle students can create classroom chaos, which can undermine your confidence as a leader.
Have activities planned for if class finishes early, or substitute plans for if something doesn’t work out as it should. A bonus idea is to have students have something ready for idle time. When I taught elementary school, I used to have a rule that ever child had to have their own reading book at all times in case they had idle time. They loved it, their parents loved it and it took a great load off my back keeping them occupied.
Stick to the Rules – Your Class Discipline Procedure
Plan and publish a discipline procedure for your classroom on your very first day. Print the discipline rules and post it in the classroom. Tell students your expectations for their behavior on the first day of class and explain the consequences. Include the consequences for unacceptable behavior; send the parents a copy that they must acknowledge receipt off. Implement the discipline plan fairly and consistently. As a bonus you could also roleplay the negative behavior to show students what you expect. When it does happen, this will be the result. See it as a teaching opportunity to remind them of the rules.
Don’t fear Criticism, use it!
If you’ve been given some feedback that you deem to be negative, then use it as a tool to change. By acting on criticism instead of wallowing in it, you can turn a negative into a positive, helping you to not only build confidence but also really improve your practice. That being said, don’t surround you with negative people. People that moan and complain about everything are bound to bring you down. Try and help them, but if they don’t want to change and improve, accept they won’t, they’re not ready. So, avoid them and look for those that can build you up to form a partnership.
Realize your Strengths
Last, but definitely not least, take some time to reflect on your practice and pull out the positives. Make video recordings of your lessons, it will provide you an objective lens on your practice. Whilst it might be uncomfortable at first, it really does help to overcome negative self-perceptions and to recognize your strengths in the classroom. By reflecting on your teaching strengths and celebrating them, you will build a sense of self-worth and belief, which ultimately leads to confidence.
Finally, believe that no matter what, everything will be okay. Remember: “This too shall pass!”
Avoid getting Negative
If you ever feel l you are stuck in a negative mindset and have no confidence at all, start by being more introspective. Be grateful. Write down all the things that make you happy and the successes that you’ve achieved in your life. Often times we get too negative without looking at all the great things we have accomplished.
Having imposter syndrome means that you are constantly second-guessing your position and achievements in life. You might believe that it’s luck or circumstance that got you where you are right now, but it’s not. So write down all the things you’ve accomplished and all the good things that are happening in your life. The sun is shining, I have loving friends, my partner supports me. Celebrate your successes and it’ll make you more confident.
The Benefit of Confidence
Focus on the “Why”. Why do you want to be more confident? If you were a confident, bulletproof teacher, how would that affect your life? If you were in total control of your classroom, you would have no worries, no anxiety of walking into your classroom and teaching your students. You would be that happy teacher you always imagine yourself being in your dreams.
But there is also an additional benefit to being a more confident teacher. Besides having a stress-free, happy life, your students will also get the best teacher possible. By becoming more confident in yourself, and your ability as an educator, your classes will improve dramatically.
Confident Teacher = Happy Teacher = Better school life for all!
If you ever doubt yourself and wonder why you want to be a more confident teacher, remember this: You owe it to yourself to be the best possible teacher you can be. You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to your students.
Teachers need to be confident to run a successful class, without it they will struggle to maintain classroom management or teach their students effectively. Use these tips to become a more confident teacher in your classes.