How to Be a Confident Teacher

This week’s Sanity Boost is in answer to a question that came in as an anonymous response to last week’s survey about topics to include in my upcoming book. If this is your question, THANK YOU for sending it!

Question: One thing I see over and over is students honing in on insecurities of new teachers. So, how do you feign confidence in your own classroom?

Answer: You don’t have to be a new teacher to feel insecure. All of us have felt that squishy nervous feeling in our stomachs that happens whenever you are in a situation you’re not quite sure you can handle. Your armpits and hands dampen. Your mouth gets dry. Your heart pounds, and you have trouble breathing. You may even get lightheaded or need to run to the bathroom.

Watch How to Be a Confident TeacherUnfortunately, kids are really good at detecting when we are feeling insecure and capitalizing on the situation to create drama and/or get out of work. You can try to fake confidence (breathing helps, as does deodorant), but wouldn’t it be better to actually HAVE confidence?

So what exactly is confidence, and where can you get it? One definition of confidence (from Dictionary.com) is “belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities.” And I think the best way to acquire a belief in your powers and abilities is to have a well-thought-out plan.

What could possibly go wrong in the classroom?I have a friend who jumps out of airplanes. He isn’t nervous about it at all, because he knows exactly what to do in just about every situation that can come up. There are protocols for what to do if the weather is bad, if the parachute doesn’t open, or if he starts to drift away from his target landing area. In other words, he has thought about what could go wrong, and made a plan to either prevent it (pack your chute correctly) or correct it (have a backup chute.)

Think of all the problems you could have in the classroomI recommend all new teachers (and experienced teachers, too) try to think of everything that can possibly go wrong in their classrooms. Then, make a procedure that will prevent that thing from happening, and teach it to your students. If I’m worried that students will sharpen pencils while I’m talking, I teach them what to do if their pencil breaks. If I think they’ll cheat on a test, I teach them how to arrange their desks. And so on.

Experienced teachers have a big advantage here, because they have had so many things go wrong already that they instinctively know what to plan for. But new teachers can do it, too. The problem is, many of them don’t. I know I didn’t. My idea of how to prepare for the classroom was to go to the teacher supply store and buy a bunch of thematic lesson plan books. What I should have done was think about the logistics of my classroom, and write a bunch of lesson plans to use at the beginning of the school year.

I always say “Confidence is natural when you know what to do.” And thinking it through ahead of time will help you know what to do.

Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com

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3 Surprising Classroom Management Myths

If you are struggling with out-of-control student behavior, you may be buying into one or more of these common classroom management myths.

3 Classroom Management MythsMyth #1 – If you are struggling with student discipline, you need a stronger punishment to bring the kids in line.

This classroom management myth is totally untrue. Stronger punishments will only create an authoritarian atmosphere in your classroom that will eventually trigger outright rebellion.

What To Do Instead

Create reasonable expectations and proactively teach them to your students instead of just reacting when things go wrong. Be consistent and fair, and correct student misbehavior instead of punishing it. Learning how to do this takes training and practice.

Taming the ChaosTaming the Chaos, an entertaining video showing a step-by-step process for creating and teaching classroom routines, is now available in the Awesome Teacher Nation Resource Library in the “All Educators” section. Not a member? Join here for free!

Myth #2 – Some students will never change. It’s just the way they are, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

This classroom management myth is also untrue and is a dangerous mindset for educators.

Here’s the Truth

Every person on this planet is developing and changing at all times. No one is “set.” In order to be effective at classroom management, you must learn how to discipline behavior, instead of students. While bad behavior definitely exists, there is no such thing as a bad student. They all have hopes and dreams but need to learn a better way to get them.

Myth #3 – Some students respond best to frequent reminders and redirection

Actually, the opposite is true. Multiple warnings and repeated requests cause students to continue their misbehavior to test your limits.

What to Do Instead

Students are smart. When you give them multiple chances, they will take them. You need to prompt once and then follow through consistently so students will know you say what you mean and mean what you say.

So try replacing harsh punishments with clear expectations, labels and assumptions with hope, and multiple warnings with consistent follow through. You may be surprised how quickly your classroom goes from chaos to calm.

Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com

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