A good teacher
once told me, ‘Choose your attitude’. At the time I did not understand what she meant in regards to learning and I thought she was insulting me personally. However, it turns out that all she meant was that I had direct control over how I chose to approach learning things that I found difficult.
If I went in with the notion that it would be difficult then I would most likely find it hard.
The same can be said for teacher
s and their approach to building confidence in their students. How important is it to have confident students?
s vary greatly in the degree
to which they treat low- and high-expectancy students differently, and also in the nature of their differential treatment. Some teacher
s pay more attention to high-expectancy students, and some teacher
s engage in "compensatory" behaviours, focusing more on low-expectancy students’
As an individual in their late 20s I came from a now dead era of ‘tough love’ in school teaching. The idea was that we needed to be constantly disciplined, as that is the ‘skill’ that would make us smarter as opposed to sheer ability. While I don’t disagree with that, a lot of teacher
s brought their biases and (sometimes racial preference) into the classroom and you could easily see who was the favorite. There is a reason why the ‘teacher
s Pet’ also happens to be an overachiever. Some people would argue that it is because the student is already smart that it makes the teacher
like them, but I am inclined to disagree on that.
In my experience as a student I have noticed that it’s how the teacher
views the student that determines the quality of their work. Most of the time students don’t start off being the teacher
’s favorite, it becomes a gradual thing as the teacher
notices things about the student and develops an affinity for them. As a result of that, the teacher
will spend more time with that student and they will exert nuanced mannerisms like head nodding, touching, will generally smile a lot as well as use more encouraging language sub-consciously, which will then in turn make the student more confident.
However the rest of the class will suffer because of student bias and will start to resent the over-achieving student. These overlooked students are the ones that usually have some kind of ‘bad’ record that the teacher
would have read before taking on the new students. Whether consciously or sub-consciously, some teacher
s will use this history against these students instead of giving them a clean slate.
At the same time, ‘Even behaviours designed to provide extra support for low-expectancy students, however, can undermine learning. First, such compensatory behaviour is sometimes accompanied by subtle negative behaviours or expressions. Babad (1992) found that teacher
s often displayed negative emotions’
These methods are demonstrated by putting low-expectancy students in ability-based classes. It is quite illogical to keep a student at a certain level just to make them produce some semblance of work. More often than not these low-ability classes were just places to ‘put’ the students who were known to cause trouble.
There are many reasons why a student will come to school and act out. Most of the time it has something to do with family problems and a lack of attention. Some teacher
s don’t recognize that so they tar the child with the ‘bad kid’ brush and forever stigmatize them.
That’s why you see students who go through school being consistent underachievers or in my case, my grades fluctuated throughout my entire life because I lacked confidence and didn’t have a consistent mentor.
However in every learning establishment I have attended there have always been one or two teacher
s that treated everyone the same and always got consistent results. And essentially that is the best teaching method and it’s something I, myself am working on. In order to build confidence in students, one must leave their prejudice at the door and choose the right attitude.