How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The Confident Teacher
Be confident. At the very least, act confident.
Speak clearly. Do not speak quietly or quickly. Avoid stuttering.
Gaze ahead confidently. Do not lower your eyes or head. Meet the eyes of your students, but do not be drawn into any silly staring games.
Your attention is a reward, so place it where it is deserved, whilst letting others know that you cannot be taunted or coerced.
If you need to impose discipline, do so fairly and consistently. You can still show that you still care for the student whilst not accepting any bad behavior.
If there is doubt, listen and be prepared to accept a good argument but beware of backing down at the slightest sign of excuses or reaction. A confident teacher is reasonable, but not weak.
Know your subject. Confidence comes from knowledge, not bluff and bluster. If you are asked a question to which you do not know the answer, admit it. Say 'good question', write it down and come back with the answer next time.
And always manage your emotions. Lose control of these and you lose control of the class.
Now, class, I want you to get your books out. You, too, Michael -- I can see you. Melanie Roberts, come here and stand there. Right. Now open your books at page 23. That's right, Michael, well done. Melanie -- are you ready to join everyone else? Ok, sit down here and share Sandy's book...
Confidence has two benefits. First, it will make those who would oppose you think twice. Many students play up just to get the teacher riled. Disruption is a control game, and one at which some students excel (and sadly better than their lessons). If you show that you do not accept invitations to play games, they will give up.
Secondly, confidence is catching. If you are confident, then the students will become more confident too. A confident student enjoys the work more, spends more time on it and hence learns and enjoys in a virtuous circle.
Confidence starts inside you. It is driven by beliefs about yourself and others. It means understanding and not underestimating the power you can and do have. If you have difficulty sustaining confidence, swallow your pride and get help -- your lessons will improve immensely and you will become much happier in the classroom.
A lot is talked about the rights of the student. Remember that as a teacher you have rights too! You have a right to be heard. You have a right to teach in a fear-free environment. You have a right to support from the school. And quite a few more besides.
Confidence may be related to overall physical fitness and other stresses in your life. Eat well. Exercise. Take time to relax. Ensure you get enough sleep. It all helps.
Managing your emotions is utterly critical. Losing control can not only mean losing the class but maybe also your job. It's a sad fact that many kids love to see a teacher throwing a wobbly. So show them you won't and they'll eventually give up trying.