10 Confidence Building Strategies

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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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How confident are you?

Some have it by the bucket-load, some have a thimble-full and some don’t have any.

It’s a quality that at times just seems elusive and out of reach. But we all need it and teaching demands that we  live it, express it and teach it too.

Teaching is all about confidence which is ironic as many teachers aren’t particularly confident people. This is because the pressures of teaching can often produce stress and crushing self-doubts. Inexperienced or seasoned teachers alike, a lack of confidence affects us all and don’t believe anyone who pretend otherwise. ‘Confident’ people have crises of confidence quite a lot of the time.

So what can we do to be more confident?

10 Confidence Building Strategies

1. Act Confident

Most of us are pretty good social actors and our classroom and school persona is crucial. If we don’t feel confident then we can act the part because our actions give rise to feelings. Keep in mind that there is no impression without expression, so express yourself in a confident fashion and wear it.

2. Seek help

Confident people don’t hide or bottle things up. When they need help they ask for it. Imagine that you don’t know what to do for a particular pupil or group of pupils, don’t focus on your knowledge gap and feel inadequate – feel confident about your ability to seek the support of someone who can give you advice and give you confidence to do something.

3. Admit mistakes

Confident people make mistakes all the time but the mistakes don’t steam roller them, they do the opposite and strengthen them.  It is far more productive to admit any errors you make and take steps to overcome them. Covering up and denying any mistakes eats away at confidence and makes you defensive. It is a massive strength to be transparent about your own limitations and weaknesses.

4. Be a star

Stand like a star and you will be one. Corny advice perhaps or is it? If you look the part and take note of your body language then it makes sense because it gives your far more presence. Make eye contact, stand tall but please, no macho handshakes like Donald Trump.

5. Listen in

Confident people are good listeners because they use active listening techniques. When someone listens into what is being said this helps them convey empathy and gives them comprehension.

6. The 7Ps

In The Art Of Being A Brilliant Teacher, Gary Toward, Chris Henley and Andy Cope hit the nail right on the head when they point out the importance of the 7Ps and how this can influence our confidence. It’s not a glamorous message but it’s one that all staffrooms could discreetly display somewhere:

Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

We have all done lessons without much notice and without much planning but to live like that all the time would be exhausting. If there is something to do it needs to be planned – this could be minutes or hours but when we do our homework then it pays off because we feel more confident.

7. Practice humility

It’s nice to be appreciated and recognised for what you do but confident people don’t need constant praise, thanks and compliments from others. Accept a pat on the back from senior managers when you get it but don’t feel hard done by if you don’t. Giving yourself  a regular pat on the back at least twice a day instead.

8. Reject perfectionism

Some people expect too much of themselves. You can’t be perfect so don’t even try. Be ambitious and eager to improve but go easy on yourself and set reasonable and realistic targets. If you set yourself up for failure by setting the bar too high then watch your self-worth collapse in a heap and wave a white flag.

9. Avoid comparisons

If you start comparing yourself to other members of staff then you are on a slippery slope and you could end up covered in low self-esteem which tends to be very sticky. Sure, have a role model perhaps or imitate the actions and behaviours of people you admire but your high-performing colleagues aren’t as perfect as you think they are. Focus on yourself.

10. Keep learning

Confidence comes from a constant improvement process and quest for learning.

Confident people are not afraid to ask questions when they need advice, clarification, or explanations. We all know that knowledge is power—and its true. Take every opportunity to engage with CPD to boost your knowledge, skills and professionalism whether that’s dipping into edu-Twitter, attending a course or leading one yourself.

Confidence Trickster

It’s normal to feel low in confidence. You might have had a challenging pupil or difficult parent to deal with. There may have been a situation you hadn’t encountered before which blew you off track. You might be finding it impossible to juggle balls and spin plates at the same time. They can all hit our confidence and this is okay.

Confidence building strategies are important to glance at on a regular basis and to keep reaffirming that you are doing an amazing job, especially when you get the jitters.

Increased confidence will open up more of your creative powers and help you become a better teacher but remember confidence is not a permanent state of being – it needs maintenance. If you feel confident one minute and not the next, that’s called being human.

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