For students to achieve academically, they must have a sense of confidence in themselves and their abilities to perform. Building students’ self-esteem and self-efficacy can greatly improve attention, motivation, and mindset. When students feel confident, they are more likely to be emotionally strong, behaviorally appropriate, and cognitively aware—and thus, more successful learners.
In February, in a webinar through edWeb, Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., discussed specific strategies to build and shape students’ confidence and make your classroom an enjoyable learning environment for all. Watch the webinar recording, “Fostering Confidence to Engage Students in Learning,” then read on for a bonus Q&A with Dr. Cash.
Q: How do we counteract the deficit thinking students have accumulated from home?
A: Do what you can do in your classroom. You can’t change parenting styles or cultures. Inform parents of the negative impact that deficit thinking can have on children’s achievement. Help parents understand how to redirect deficit thinking in a positive manner.
Q: How do we get parents on board? Our students are coming to school lacking many skills—both academic and social. The use of technology has also hampered students’ abilities since they prefer to use technology for pleasure rather than learning.
A: Teach your parents about how to help children become self-regulated. I have tips for parents in my book Self-Regulation in the Classroom: Helping Students Learn How to Learn. You are welcome to share these tips with parents through your newsletters or emails. Or even consider putting on a workshop specifically for parents on how to help their child become more self-regulated.
Q: How do you make something predictable without making it so routine that students tune you out? How do you implement that change?
A: By predictable, I mean that students are clear on classroom norms and rules, that timelines and schedules are posted and accessible, that lesson objectives are clearly stated and students can tell you what they are learning, that students are clear about consequences and rewards, and that when changes occur, students are given time to adjust.
Q: Are your recommendations good for preK kids, too?
A: Absolutely! It’s never too early to start getting kids to be self-regulated. I would suggest working on the classroom environment and awareness of self-ideas first.
Q: Do you have any solutions for stress that have been implemented from the top down in school?
A: None that I think are good. Knowing how to relieve stress is a personal adventure. Teach kids all kinds of healthy ways to reduce their stress loads.
Q: Can we initiate these steps in any grade level? Is it possible to counter the years of “negatives” if we are starting in, let’s say, 7th grade?
A: It’s never too late to get kids self-regulated. You have to start sometime—so start small and remember you are dealing with adolescents who are wanting this kind of support.
Q: How do we encourage students to be more active listeners?
A: Try these strategies: (1) Focus on and look at the speaker; (2) Reframe what the speaker says; (3) Ask for clarity when things don’t make sense; (4) Summarize what the speaker said; (5) Share your summary with a partner; (6) Check for accuracy.
Q: How do you handle situations where you want to help a child who clearly needs attention but other teachers say to just ignore the behavior because the child is acting out for attention?
A: Remember what I said about the symptom versus the source? If the child is acting out, what’s the source of the acting out? If the child is seeking attention, there must be a reason. Figure out that reason, and I bet the acting out goes away.
Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., writes the monthly Cash in on Learning blog posts for Free Spirit Publishing. He has given hundreds of workshops, presentations, and staff development sessions throughout the United States and internationally.
Free Spirit books by Richard Cash:
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