Friday, March 2, 2012

On your mark, get set...grow!

"Kids need confidence in order to engage, and they have to engage in order to grow."
     In Kajder's book, (I believe it was in chapter 3 but as I'm writing I don't have the text handy) I read this quote and quickly highlighted it. What a true statement. Confidence--having belief in oneself and his or her abilities. Confidence in life and in the classroom is crucial. Though it may take some time to build up, confidence can be the factor that makes or breaks an individual's ability to grow as a learner as well as a person in general. Just a little bit of confidence can go a long way.
      Take this scenario for example. Just the other day in one of my classes my group and I were struggling with various problems we had been assigned. As students were instructed to write their answers on the board we all let out long whines and groans of "All of our answers are wrong..." the teacher responded with, "Have more confidence in yourselves!" It just so happened that we really should have had some confidence considering the answers the student wrote on the board had in fact been incorrect and ours were actually right.
     The half raised hand, adverted eye contact or the straight forward "my answer is wrong" are all classic cases of a student having little confidence in the classroom which in turn hinders the learning environment. Getting the students engaged and raising their level of confidence is somewhat cyclical--the roads of engagement lead back to how confident or not confident a student is and vice versa. Clearly, in the areas in which we feel strongest we have no problem participating and those areas in which we feel weak, we tend to hide behind others. As teachers, that is a challenge we must face. How do we get those who feel unconfident therefore uncomfortable, able to not worry whether or not their answer is wrong or if what they have to say doesn’t match another student’s interpretation?
      Basically, Kajder got me thinking about just one other important factor I as a teacher will need to bring to my classroom in order for my students to grow both academically and individually.

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