“My students are not learning.” “I’m not a good ESL teacher.” “I don’t have enough teaching experience.” “My students can tell I’m not an experienced teacher.” And the list goes on…If you have ever thought or even said any of the above out loud, then you lack teaching confidence.
In teaching, communication is key, and a lack of confidence can be a real barrier to communicating effectively and helping your students improve their English skills.
A lack of confidence is quite common in new ESL teachers, but even the most seasoned ESL teachers have a crisis of confidence every now and then. So here are some tips that will help you boost your confidence and never doubt yourself again!
How to Give Your Teaching Confidence a Boost
Consider Your Strengths
Take a good hard look at yourself. What abilities do you have? What do you think you do better than most? Are you funny and engaging in class? Do you know English grammar backwards and forwards? Are you great with young learners? Are you a patient teacher? Every teacher has strengths they bring to class, and weaker areas to work on, but the goal of this exercise is to boost your confidence so focus on your positive qualities. Make a list and then ask a colleague to add some more. Focus on the things that make you unique as a teacher, whether they are personality traits or knowledge you’ve gained through the years.
Get Some Perspective
So, you’re faced with the task of teaching absolute beginners, who don’t know a thing, and you’re expected to “make” them speak English by the end of the course. First of all, when faced with a teaching challenge that seems insurmountable (“Get absolute beginners to speak English”), try to break it down into feasible goals. In this case, you’ll have an estimate of the number of words they will have learned by the end of the class, and you know they will learn to greet others in English and manage in simple day-to-day situations. Focus on helping them achieve these goals, and when they do, your confidence will shoot through the roof! You will have placed knowledge where there was none before. How awesome is that?
Second, in today’s world, we have it much easier than ESL teachers 20, or even 10 years ago. We have an amazing wealth of resources right at our fingertips thanks to the Internet, from audio to video tools, as well as handy little worksheets you can download for your class with only a click (hint, hint).
Look for Evidence that You’re Awesome!
Nothing is more rewarding than when a student tells us we are good teachers. Do you have a box with the little cards your young learners made for you? Or birthdays cards? An email from a happy student? How about prizes or awards? Your TEFL certification? Look back at the achievements that made you proud. No matter how small they may seem, they made you the teacher you are today.
Remember a Teacher that was Not So Awesome
Did you have a college teacher that literally put you to sleep? Remember your 7th grade Math teacher who never smiled? Well, you’re a lot better than that! If you’re reading this article, then you’re one of the many teachers who care about their students and care about becoming better teachers. We’ve all had teachers in the past who didn’t seem to care about anything except getting their paycheck and their summer vacation. You are not like them!
Steer Clear of Negative Nellies
Do you hang around teachers who do nothing but complain about wages, about the school infrastructure or the educational system in general? Although in many places educators face real problems, it doesn’t help you to constantly focus on the negative. This is classic “glass half empty” attitude. If you notice you are surrounded by these Negative Nellies, try to find another group to hang out with, one with a more positive outlook on things. What is the positive? Your students, of course! And how tremendously rewarding it is to teach them.
Celebrate Your Students’ Achievements
Naturally, it doesn’t make sense to have a party every time your students learn something new, but why not have a special celebration every now and then? End the course with a special event and go through everything they’ve learned. Remember when they couldn’t ask a simple question correctly? Now they can ask plenty! Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to celebrate this.
Cheer Yourself On!
“I have a Business English class tomorrow, and I know nothing about business. My students will see I know nothing.” That’s exactly the kind of thought you need to avoid. Say to yourself, “Tomorrow I have a new group and my class will rock!” Say it out loud! Do this often. Say, “Damn, I’m a good teacher!” After you finish a class say, “Nailed it!” (Say it out loud, but when you’re alone in the room – remember you want to cheer yourself on, but there’s no need for students to find out ;)
Teach as Much as You Can
The best way to boost your confidence in teaching is simply by teaching, and teaching and then teaching some more. The more you teach, the more confident you’ll feel. If you’re a new teacher, there’s no way around it. Experience does wonders to your confidence.
It’s great when someone else gives us a pat on the back and an instant confidence boost, but we can’t depend on others to keep us feeling confident.
You are responsible for developing and nurturing your self-confidence. Try these tips or others – whatever works best for you. Just make sure you don’t neglect your biggest cheerleader – yourself!
So, what do you do when you need a confidence boost? New haircut? A teaching seminar or course? Please share below!