How to Gain Teaching Confidence


The long-awaited moment has arrived. You enter the classroom, everyone’s eyes are on you and suddenly, a bright spotlight tracks you around the room. You stand there, unable to move, your mouth as dry as a desert, articulating incomprehensible sounds which soon appear distant and distorted to you. You start feeling dizzy and the colour of your face changes rapidly: at first it is so red that it would be the envy of a ripe tomato, and then you are as white as a sheet. The only sound you can hear is your heart pounding in your chest…

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This is not the opening scene of a horror movie, but it’s what many newly qualified teachers think is going to happen to them. Feeling anxious and nervous at the idea of teaching and leading a group of students is common and quite normal, especially if you are a novice. However, there are ways of managing the stress and gaining confidence in the classroom.  

The secret? Time and practice. It might sound simplistic, but it’s true: the more you teach, the more you will gain confidence. By spending time in the classroom, you will have fantastic days with lessons that run smoothly, and days which will be more tiring and less successful.

Obviously, it’s not possible to gain confidence with the snap of a finger, and while waiting patiently to accumulate experience you could try a few things to help avoid the fear of a nervous breakdown: 

 

  • Smile, be friendly and approachable: your students won’t mind if you are a bit nervous, it’s certainly better than having a cold, heartless robot as a teacher! 
  • Wear your lucky socks, jumper or a suitable garment that makes your feel comfortableComfortable clothes might work for you and give you confidence. 
  • Don’t be afraid to use notes/prompt cards. Have you noticed that many great public speakers have notes in front of them? 
  • Plan your lesson and be prepared. Dedicate some time at writing a clear lesson plan with aims and objectives and include a variety of activities to engage your students. Include extra activities in case things go slightly differently than how they were planned initially. 
  • Arrive early and check the classroom and the resources you will need for your session. 
  • Practice in front of a mirror or teach a small part of your lesson over dinner to your family or friends. 
  • Be positive and take small steps: Rome wasn’t built in a day. 
  • Establish a good relationship with students from the very start of the lesson. If you have a good sense of humour, use it! It helps you and your students break the ice and feel more comfortable. 
  • Work on your tone of voice and posture. Try to breathe normally and you will notice after a few attempts that if your body is relaxed your mind will be too. 
  • Be flexible and don’t be afraid to ask colleagues for help. 

 

Confidence is not a single achievement, but rather a long process. It’s not something that you gain instantly: you need to be patient and learn from success and mistakes. Don’t expect to find the ‘confidence’ potion in one of the aisles of your local supermarket. You will have to find the right ingredients to mix and create the perfect combination that works for you and only you. 

 

Blogger = B. Celeste – teacher educator and assessor

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