7 Easy Ways to Boost Student Confidence

School can be a tough place for a student that lacks self-esteem. The classroom can feel full of traps waiting to catch a student off guard and derail their confidence. 

As teachers, we need to work with our students to build their confidence in a way that encourages them to take risks and grow daily. When this is achieved, our students can truly flourish. 
The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that if you click and buy an item Amazon throws a little bit back to me to support this blog. It does not in any way change the price of your item. Thank you! 
7 Easy Ways to Boost Student Confidence! #3 and #6 are sure to get your students thinking more positively!

Meet Students Where They Are

A classroom full of students is likely coming to you from a variety of backgrounds, levels, and experiences. When you teach to the middle you are likely to miss a big chunk of students. 

When beginning a new unit or topic activate prior knowledge and have students share their experiences. This serves to build community within your classroom and allows students to show you what they know and where there may be misconceptions. Be careful not to correct these misconceptions right away, but instead guide learning to correct them over time. 

By meeting students where they are you show them they have prior knowledge and something to add to the conversation. Their ability to contribute shows them and the class their input is valued. 

7 Easy Ways to Boost Student Confidence! #3 and #6 are sure to get your students thinking more positively!Differentiate

Differentiation is a big buzzword in education, as it should be. When we meet students where they are we can then differentiate their learning to accelerate those who are missing pieces and enrich the learning for all. 

Differentiation works in both directions. We can scaffold learning for those that have missing pieces, as well as challenge our students to go deeper when they already understand a topic. It is important to remember that with each new topic or unit students will need to be evaluated for misconceptions or prior understanding. We cannot make the mistake of grouping students once and keeping the same groups all year. 

Sometimes differentiation means a different assignment or way of working through a topic, other times it means doing the same assignment, but in a different format. As the professional, you know your students and what is best for them. 

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Build in Peer Coaching

When students work together in heterogeneous groups they automatically model learning, listening, and speaking for one another. By allowing students time to work with their peers through structured activities with a common goal students are able to scaffold for one another and enrich the learning experience for everyone. 

Cooperative learning strategies are the perfect example of students working together towards a common goal. When each student fulfills a role, they scaffold one another's learning and allow the teacher to facilitate rather than lead the learning. 

One of my favorite strategies for getting students to verbalize their thinking and coaching one another is Rally Coach

Praise Effort

Often our students get so tied up in results that they negate all the hard work they have put in when they don't achieve their goal on the first try. 

By praising effort instead of results we show our students that hard work leads to big things and failure is an opportunity to try again with some background knowledge. 

This approach fits right in with growth mindset, which shows us the power of yet. When we can adjust our students thinking from I can't do this, to I can't do this YET big things happen. 

Some great books (affiliate links) to support growth mindset in our students are: 

Frontload Positive Feedback

No matter whether you are a child or an adult feedback can make or break your experience. 

Imagine this:
You are out at recess with your students and they are teaching you a new game, but you, being you, are terribly uncoordinated and having a hard time being successful. Are your students going to walk away and say better luck next time? I would bet not! 

Our students are incredibly patient with us when showing us how to do something new, but they aren't always so kind to themselves. This is why, as teachers, we must step in to model positive self-talk as well as frontload our students with positivity. 

Research states that we should be offering up three pieces of positive feedback for every negative piece. This becomes that much easier when you start positive instead of trying to dig yourself out of a hole later. 

By continuing to praise effort, positive feedback becomes much easier as well. 
7 Easy Ways to Boost Student Confidence! #3 and #6 are sure to get your students thinking more positively!
Think about long division. How many times does using the standard algorithm offer a teacher the chance to provide positive feedback to a student? You guessed it, a whole bunch of times. By praising students' effort all along the way it is easier to take when a mistake is made and corrections are needed. It isn't self-esteem shattering either. 

Reflect on Learning and Set Personal Goals

Not everyone is going to get everything perfect on the first try, and if you do, you are not living in the real world. 

By celebrating effort and using mistakes as a platform to hone your skills student confidence can grow.

Allow time for students to think about their learning. What they have tried and done well in, and areas where they need to grow some more. Emphasize the opportunity that students have to grow and help them to set personal goals that can be celebrated when they are achieved. 

In my experience, it is best to set three to four learning goals with students at a time. The first two or three should be quickly attainable and just outside of their reach, and then the last goal can be a bit more of a stretch and longer term. Double bonus points if the first few goals get them closer to the final goal! 

7 Easy Ways to Boost Student Confidence! #3 and #6 are sure to get your students thinking more positively! Build Routines

We all know students thrive on routine, but did you know that routine in the classroom builds student confidence and encourages risk-taking?

It is as simple as this: when you know you are in a safe place and can predict the outcome to a certain extent you are more likely to give something new a try.

By providing our students with a bit of predictability they know they will be supported and encouraged to take risks. This leads to bigger leaps in learning, achieving goals, and high self-esteem which in return leads to more risk-taking.

We can provide routine in the classroom without making the day monotonous. For example, our math block always included the same structure of warm-up, mini-lesson, practice, stations and small group, and then exit ticket. While the order and structure stayed the same we varied what practice would look like through cooperative learning strategies, problem-solving activities, or opportunities to choose who you wanted to work with. Students knew practice time was the time to take risks and push their learning boundaries within the safety net of the larger math block.

In the End

Being a kid these days is tough, and the classroom should not be one of the reasons students' self-esteem suffers. 

To make sure all students feel appreciated, confident, and ready to take risks:
Meet students where they are
Differentiate assignment in both directions
Build in peer coaching or scaffolding
Praise effort, not results using growth mindset principles
Frontload positive feedback
Reflect on learning and set goals
Build routines into daily classroom activities

6 Proven Education Trends You Need To Know

In the world of education, trends change quickly. It is hard to keep up with every new strategy as well as decipher what works in the long run and what is a temporary fix or fad. When it comes to current educational trends, there are a few I have found are necessary to know. 
How can you tell when an education trend is here to stay or is just a fad? Check out these six trends that are here to stay!

Personalized Learning

In a rapidly changing world, it is important for each and every student to find something they are passionate about and explore it. 

This doesn't mean a teacher has to cater to each and every student when writing problem-solving questions but instead encourages students to explore passion areas of their own. 

One way to do this is through Genius Hour or Passion Projects. Students are able to choose something they want to learn more about and explore their topic in depth. These projects often end with students presenting their learning in some way to the class or community. 

Through passionate learning, students are able to step outside of the traditional classroom model and learn about topics which interest them directly and then learn from one another. 


Technology in the classroom is here to stay but that doesn't mean it has to be the end all and be all of every lesson. 

Technology allows students to experience a world outside of the classroom and what they encounter in daily life. Technology provides tools for learners to augment what they are learning and stretch their thinking. Technology does NOT have to replace paper and pencil tasks. 

How can you tell when an education trend is here to stay or is just a fad? Check out these six trends that are here to stay! Technology can provide a new way of communicating with others or for presenting ideas, but it can not replace the critical thinking students so desperately need. When thinking about whether or not to include technology in a lesson ask yourself whether it is a substitute for paper and pencil or if it enhances the lesson. If it isn't an enhancement, you may want to think twice. 

Teacher's Role

For a long time, the teacher was viewed as the authority in the classroom, the sage on the state if you will, but with new developments in research about how we learn this is changing. 

Now instead of being the learning leader, teachers are taking on the role of guide. We are still there for our students every step of the way, but we are there in a supportive rather than star role. Students are encouraged to share their learning with one another and lean on each other for peer coaching. 

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is real-world learning. 

Instead of students completing assignments in isolation, they integrate different subject areas to solve real-life problems in the comfort of the classroom. 

These projects allow students to stretch their minds and prepare them for a world which is ever-changing. Through projects such as planning their own field trip or a class party, students are able to apply their learning across multiple subjects without getting bogged down with the standard test. 

How can you tell when an education trend is here to stay or is just a fad? Check out these six trends that are here to stay! Collaborative Learning

In the working world rarely do you see one individual working alone. Instead, you see teams of people working together to accomplish a common goal.

In classrooms, we often see the opposite. This system, which is not effective for most learners, leaves many to struggle and does not simulate real-world experiences which value collaboration and teamwork. 

By utilizing collaborative or cooperative learning in the classroom, students are not only working on problem-solving, and learning new material, but they are also honing their social skills and learning valuable life lessons. 

Digital Citizenship

With technology taking such an important place in our world it is vital our students learn how to be good digital citizens. 

The landscape of technology and its uses are ever-changing, and often more rapidly than we know, but as teachers, we must help our students to navigate what it means to be a good digital citizen. 

We can model what this looks like, but explicit instruction is also a must. This will include everything from conversations about what information you share with others online, as well as how to present yourself on social media, and how your online presence is like a permanent file which will follow you forever. 

Growing up during a time when everything is recorded and posted online for the world to see comes with a new set of challenges that have not been faced before. 

Ever Changing

The world of education continues to evolve every day. Some trends will take root, gain momentum, and be around for the long haul while others will fade away as soon as they come into popularity. 

When you are looking at a new to you education trend remember to always ask yourself if it is what is best for your students. Will it make learning more personal and meaningful? If so, give it a try! If not, don't be afraid to sit that one out. 

How to Tackle a Really Bad Day

Bad days happen. They happen to the best of us. We have the best of intentions. We are prepared for the day. We do everything we can, but despite our best efforts, the day goes awry. This happens, and when it does we have to remember it won't last forever. 

Instead, we need to remind ourselves we make a ton of choices throughout the day and have the ability to turn our day around, or at least make sure it doesn't permeate our whole week. 
Are you having a bad day? Check out these 9 ideas for tackling your bad day and moving forward!

Reflect On Your Day and Choices

Sometimes our choices are what make a day go downhill. Sometimes it is others' choices causing us stress, but either way, there are choices you can make which will either stop the snowball or allow it to gain momentum.

Stop and take a moment to re-center yourself and think about the task at hand. If a choice you made is causing stress take a look at what you can do to work backward and make a different choice.

If your stress is a result of others' choices then think about how you can make choices allowing you to take back control.

Put Your Day in Perspective

From time to time it is important to remind ourselves our worst moment in a day is not entirely terrible in the grand scheme of life.

I am not here to say your bad day doesn't matter because it most definitely does matter, but what I am trying to say is when we remind ourselves of what is important in our lives we can gain a bit of perspective in moments when the world seems to be crashing down around us.

By taking the time to think about what is going right instead of living in the doldrums of what is going wrong we are in a better headspace to bring ourselves out of the funk of a bad day.

Do Something for Yourself

When I have a truly terrible day I try to take the time to do something for myself I otherwise wouldn't.

This serves a couple purposes. The first is it lifts my mood, and the second is because it ends the day on a good note. Then when I am lying in bed thinking about my day I end my thought process with the special something I did for myself.

Personally, I eat my feelings, so this something for yourself is a special meal most of the time. I have also taken the time to get a pedicure, treated myself to a mid-week evening movie, or gone to play trivia with friends. All of these things are special to me for different reasons, but all of them help me to stop a bad day in its tracks.

Hit the Reset Button

When a situation is going off the tracks, when possible, try a complete reset. I have used this strategy in and out of the classroom.

One day, while teaching, I was just miserable and told my students, "I need a redo." I walked out of the classroom, stood in the hall for about ten seconds taking a few deep breaths, then walked back in with a smile to begin the day again.

Did it fix everything? Absolutely not! It did give me the opportunity to reset and try again though.

My students were absolutely fascinated, and for the rest of the year, when having a bad day, would ask if they could do a quick reset. I would always oblige them, and it was a game changer for our classroom.

Are you having a bad day? Check out these 9 ideas for tackling your bad day and moving forward!Work It Out

I am a huge fan of sweating a problem out. When I take an hour to take care of my body and just get sweaty I always gain clarity about a situation.

Some people do their best thinking in the shower, mine it while rowing on an erg.

Get Some Space

When possible, sometimes the best solution to a bad day is walking away from it. I am not advocating you walk out of the school in the middle of the day leaving all your worries behind never to return.

What I am saying is maybe you leave school right after your students and get a little bit of distance from the situation. This isn't always applicable because some problems need immediate attention, but when it is can be a lifesaver.

Talk It Out

Fresh eyes, or ears, can make a world of difference. I for one, become a bit of a "poor me" individual and fall into the trap of complaining instead of problem-solving. This is a terrible place to be unless you are trying to turn a bad day into a bad week. 

By talking it out you put yourself back in control and you bring in others who can help. Honestly, sometimes I talk it out with my dog. She isn't particularly helpful with the advice, but sometimes hearing it out loud brings me clarity. 

Blast Your Favorite Song

Are you having a bad day? Check out these 9 ideas for tackling your bad day and moving forward!When a bad day is just a bit of a funk and not an acute stressor there is nothing better than music to bring me out of it.

In the car? Crank it up!
At school? Have a single song dance party!
At home? Blast yourself out!

I mean, who can resist singing along and getting a little dance into their favorite songs even when a dark cloud is hanging overhead.

Remember There is Always Tomorrow

When absolutely all else fails, remember there is always tomorrow. Take a hot shower, hit the bed, get a good night's rest and try again the next day with a fresh attitude!

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