Can teachers instill self-confidence in students who aren't learning it at home?

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Pat (not verified)

Yes - I am certain that

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Yes - I am certain that teacher can pass on this self-confidence, because I was one of those students. When I was in 4th grade, I had a wonderful teacher (Mr. Weidner) that told us over and over that we could do whatever we had set our minds to do. After living in a household with a father that could find fault with absolutely anything and everything, I really doubted that I could do anything at all much less choose that for myself. Mr. Weidner's patience and persistence created an environment of hope, which could then protect the seeds of self-confidence. He shared this message with all of us in his classroom, and we knew that he was always watching. As a girl in a small rural community, where only about 5% of the students even thought about going on to college, his message was completely about not relying on others for your confidence, but knowing - really knowing - that you have mastered the foundations of a topic. As he would question us on the information, I thrived on knowing that I understood what he was asking. They were questions on things that my family didn't value, and so they could counter the negative effects of that feedback. I knew that I had something else to build on. I have since earned several degrees in the sciences, math, and education, and now enjoy spending my time in a classroom sharing that same message of hope. (and yes, I have also had the oppotunity to go back and share how much this has meant with Mr. Weidner many years later)
M B Hoffart (not verified)

If it had not been for

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If it had not been for teachers in grade and high school, I am not sure what would have happened to me. School was a safe place and I could be a kid or teen, I never understood why some kids didn't like school. I loved it. and I did well.
Suzanne Howell Robinson (not verified)

This concept works

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This concept works exceptionally well in the multiage classroom in which one teacher could possibly have students for a three year period in elementary school; that's an awesome time frame in which to boost confidence. Of course, the biggest confidence booster is to be the greatest teacher you can be and make sure that every second spent in that classroom works toward depth of knowledge and skills that will make them lifelong successful, well-adjusted individuals.
Carolyn Magnuson (not verified)

Yes, teachers do and can

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Yes, teachers do and can make a positive difference in the confidence of students in the absence of home support ... however, sustained and increasingly more complex change requires the entire staff of a school working together ... with "one vision and one voice" ... via a district-wide comprehensive guidance and counseling program, the professional school counselor is a vital part of sustainable and life-long belief in self and one's ability to succeed throughout life ...
Kimberly (not verified)

Based upon personal

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Based upon personal experience I can tell you that a teacher can make all the difference in a students life. Epsecially when it comes to helping build self esteem. Granted it takes extra work with the student, but you never know when years from know that student will find you and thank you. My reason for teaching has to a great deal to do with the postive impact one teacher had in my life.
Gloria Piraino (not verified)

Self-confidence is most

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Self-confidence is most certainly something teachers can help instill in our young charges. In school may be the only place some children do feel that sense of being worth something. I remember my own experiences as a young student, and I know for a fact that school made all the difference for me, in seeing my own self-worth. I see it in many of my own students too--they come to school to be a part of it, to belong to something worthwhile. Instilling self-confidence can be as simple as smiling at a shy student, but it is a powerful tool.
Ron Paige (not verified)

"Confidence" is a strategy

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"Confidence" is a strategy one develops for dealing with his or her environment. Stratagies, which are essentially means for structuring information into meaning, can be taught. This does not mean "develop a course in strategy teaching." Unfortunately, we are more focused on imparting educational content than on modeling learning strategies. Ask any 30+-year old in the workplace what he or she learned from formal schooling that was of value and it will almost always be a strategy for meaning-making.
Leonard Isenberg (not verified)

After teaching for over 21

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After teaching for over 21 years in both the United States and France, I have come to the following conclusions as to what would make a measurably difference in our students chances for success: The problems that my students suffer from are generational and cannot be addressed by unwarranted optimistic edspeak and encouragement without substantive and pragmatic changes designed to address their real deficits. Stated in another way, I am presently teaching the children of the students that I did not succeed in educatiing when I started teaching. It is unrealistic to think that good curriculum, small schools, or any other educational reform will succeed unless it addresses the underlying linguistic deficits that objectively preclude my students from entering into the education process/dialogue. Our present educational system makes the false assumption that children arrive at the schoolroom door having already mastered the prerequisites necessary for meaningfully starting their education- this is not the case. The idea of standards based instruction assumes that students in the 10th grade can be taught at 10th grade standards because it is falsely assumed that they have already mastered standards from grades 1 through 10, when the reality is that they continue to be socially promoted without having mastered even rudimentary skills. By the time they get to high school they are actually hostile to anyone who tells them that education is not just about copying answers from a book without understanding the answers. Students so educated find school boring, because they don't understand the language on which instruction is based. This leads to the incessant disruption of class from students whose behavior makes it impossible for even the most dedicated teacher to succeed- 50% of new teachers quite within 5 years. In other societies that have been required to educate large populations of working class foreign populations without the linguistic basis in any language to easily achieve this goal, several approaches have been used: 1. In France, foreign students are given one and sometimes two years of "France special" classes where no other course but French is taught until the students have an adequate skill level in French to succeed. While initially students fall behind there age group, they ultimately catch up and achieve at a much higher rate than our similiarly impacted students do. Language mastery is the fundemental tool of social and cultural integration. In addition, the French Lycee International has 12 national sections where students are dual immersed in their culture of origin and French culture. 2. In Sweden in the 1960's, there was a critical shortage of workers in this country with a negative population growth. The Swedes found their foreign work force in India. However, the critical difference between their experience and ours is that they initially educated that population in their native Indian dialect before even attempting to educate them in Swedish- while initally an expensive proposition, this and other "foreign" populations have been seamlessly assimilated into Swedish society while maintaining significant elements of their country of origin- such a result is far less expensive in the long run. Rather than a patronizing optimism that can only disappoint a student in a system that is designed for them not to succeed, why not: 1. Lessen class size. Money is spent on everything else...hmm 2. Make compensation of public schools by the state based on results and not warm bodies in seats- end Average Daily Attendance ADA. 3. Get the whites with the social capital necessary to reform public schools back into the process and out of the private schools- no one wants to spend $20,000 per kid to get them educated if the local school can do the job. 4. Lessen inflated bureaucracies that serve their careers and not the difficult work of educating students. This will naturally change if administration is not seen as upward job mobility from being a teacher. 5. Make public education a privilege and not a right. If you want to tear up the school, go home or into the work force until you understand the value of education as a measure of your chances for a successful future- a little time selling fastfood can go a long way in educating future students to this reality. 6. Do not harbor a racist view of Blacks and Latinos that does really want them to be educated because it might disturb our endless supply of cheap labor or question 350 years of negative Black stereotypes. The other night I went to a screening of the latest up Hollywood film- it was called Freedom Writers. What is totally unreal about this film, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, and all the others, is that it assumes that once a loving and supportive teacher has gotten these students to trust her, they will read and write and do math like a combination of Toni Morrison and Albert Einstein. The fundamental skills necessary to succeed cannot be attained starting in high school, but rather must start out in elementary school and before, where the school is the plaza of the neighborhood where mothers to be, parents, and students can get the nurturing they need at an appropriate age before it is too late for them and their children.
Kenn Agata (not verified)

I thought about the question

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I thought about the question prior to reading the eight comments which were posited before responding. Like Mr. Isenberg, I had the opportunity to teach abroad, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Settat, Morocco (1968-1971). I agree with much of his commentary. Obviously, the times and the circumstances were far different throughout the world in 1968 than they are today and the above success stories prove that, in many instances, a strong, consistent and persistent teacher can reach individual students. However, I feel, from a holistic point of view, there MUST be many supportive conditions within the community itself that constantly serve to reinforce the idea that not only are "goals" worthwhile to consider, but the sacrifices needed to develop the tools that are necessary to have a chance of succeeding at attaining one's lifetime goals are worth the effort. I do not think this is innate, since, as human's, it is our miracle of language that truly differentiates us from other beings that course through life primarily through instinct alone. This is not a new idea at all. However, perhaps ironically, our progress in technology, changes in familial relationships and other factors which have tended to slacken the bonds between people makes it an even greater challenge to even envision the definition of life-long success. What truly needs to be considered as far as developing confidence is, as trite as it may sound, is the ability/facility to communicate social norms and expectations which, irrespective of how they have changed and will continue to change during the course of human existence, will remain the common denominator and compass rose for one's direction and movement through one's life.
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