How can we rekindle our teaching confidence?
The majority of teachers will hold their hands up to admit experiencing diminishing confidence levels at some point in their career. Keep calm, don’t despair, because this is perfectly normal!
Everyone loses their mojo from time to time and when this happens we have to reverse these feelings and remind ourselves of our best teaching! Think of how empowered you feel when introducing a strong ‘task on entry’ with full learner involvement. You overhear one of your learners say within the first few seconds: “Now, THIS, is gonna be a good lesson!”
The resulting outcome is that you kick-start your lesson brimming with confidence, knowing that your planning and consideration of their needs has paid dividends!
What can you do when you’ve lost your confidence?
So, how can we re-energise ourselves after experiencing inevitable dips in confidence? We must commit to a ‘growth mindset’ approach (Dweck, 2006) and attract an inflow of new ideas. Why? Because our learners are itching to experience fresh and stimulating changes to lessons! Here’s 5 tips to reignite effective teaching and learning:
1. Track new technology
We must manoeuvre ourselves across the newest forms of technology and go the extra mile. We can’t stand still when it comes to capturing and maintaining the attention of our learners.
Visit teaching social media sites and use the most high-tech equipment you can get your hands on. Be sure to connect any equipment usage to meaningful assessments or tasks directly linked to course requirements. This will not only create learner intrigue but should hasten progress and provide a more practical, work based feel to lessons, which will help learners to envision themselves in their ideal job role. Confident teachers keep their knowledge and skills updated and relevant to student needs.
2. Practise for peak performance!
Mentally rehearsing the order of the lesson can prevent pitching a lesson too high or low for our learners. If you want to use a new game in a lesson, rehearse the structure of your lesson or test it on your colleagues before delivering it to your learners.
If the practice run doesn’t go exactly to plan, you can self-reflect and apply improvements or rely on constructive feedback to be forthcoming.
3. Peer assessment = Positive progress!
Using your learners to steer their own progress could be the key to enhance learner progress in your lessons.
Ensure they are able to evidence individual progress and clearly mark peers’ work by initialling their individual ideas. Use classroom learner-rotation where they move around and grade others’ work. You can encourage group involvement to mark exemplary copies of work that is modelled on their future coursework, which should increase understanding on the quality of work due to be submitted.
4. Collaborate and consider change
Who in your department is doing something ingenious in a lesson to extract the best learning from students? What do others use for competition, rewards, tracking and challenge?
Forge partnerships and don’t be afraid to peer observe. Alternatively, just take a sneaky peek in lessons across the corridors and magpie! Sometimes, even a simple glance through a classroom window can trigger a ‘light-bulb’ moment for your own lessons.
Be willing to interchange ideas with others as well, and a potential conveyor belt of ideas will increase for both you and your colleagues.
5. Introduce a new idea every week
Could you implement new starter techniques or plenary ideas involving props and target grade based questioning? Merge these with positive strategies such as those in ‘50 Quick and Easy Lesson Activities’ (Gershon, 2014) or ‘Mark, Plan, Teach‘ from @TeacherToolkit will provide a resurgence to your lessons and your entire thought process can be reborn with renewed dynamism!
Exhaustion in itself, is a confidence-killer during particularly hectic periods in the academic year. This is when teachers can feel at their most fragile. However, the perennial marking and lesson-planning challenges can also reignite confidence levels when teachers ‘roll up their sleeves’ more forcefully, taking decisive actions to solve such problems effectively.
Navigating our teaching by injecting new life into our lessons will erase teaching tedium, reigniting the spark that made us want to be role models and teach in the first place! If we consistently do the groundwork towards executing these 5 tips, we ourselves will rediscover our confidence and will reap the rewards of maximising enjoyment in teaching our own lessons!