One of the most exciting aspects of being a teacher involves trying new strategies and lessons. While you can expect a certain degree of trial-and-error, employing new teaching methods and coming up with new projects can keep your students engaged and help them acquire new 21st Century Skills that’ll benefit them beyond the classroom. Naturally, an inclination toward trying new things involves having confidence in your own abilities and strong knowledge of the content area you’re instructing.
Are you concerned about reflecting that type of confidence? While it’s normal for any teacher to waver just a bit, you might consider these tips for building up your confidence, especially if you’re incorporating STEM-related activities for the first time. You’ll see how much your students will learn—and how their confidence will grow—when you’ve done some careful planning and preparation, both in and out of the classroom. Plus, you’ll see how your classroom management skills come into play even when starting a project or process that’s new to both you and your students.
Build Confidence Using These 8 Strategies for Teachers
Teacher confidence doesn’t just magically appear overnight. And even with your years of training and professional development, you might still feel a bit apprehensive about building STEM-related concepts into your lessons. So, take a look at these strategies for increasing your teacher confidence.
1. Solidify Your Classroom Management
Ensuring that you establish a successful management plan directly affects your teacher confidence. In fact, some studies about classroom management have shown a direct correlation between teacher confidence and classroom management. The more training and guidance teachers receive in management and procedures, the more confidence they build. Thus, once you’ve visualized what your procedures will look like and any potential issues, you can change your management plan to ensure that students are clear on expectations and rules. For example, knowing exactly where to retrieve and return equipment saves time and much stress for both you and them, therefore building confidence and mutual trust.
2. List Your Strong Points
At times, it’s also easy to criticize yourself and underestimate your wins. However, at the end of the day, as you’re reflecting on the execution of your lessons, consider listing the positives. For example, maybe you quickly pivoted during your instruction to reach more students. Or perhaps you transformed a question or situation into a teachable moment.
Furthermore, you can also reflect on your strong points in general. For instance, you might be patient, or you can effectively use humor to alleviate stress. Or maybe you’re tech-savvy. Any positive traits and skills you have will benefit your students more than you probably realize.
3. Create an Observation Network
What if you and your colleagues could observe each other’s classes to gain ideas and exchange some instructional tips? (Another hack: This tip also applies to homeschool groups where parents can observe and share ideas.) You can watch veteran teachers to see how they handle procedures, lessons, and so forth. While you might pick up some tips, you may see that your styles have more similarities than you thought. Also, you can invite other teachers to observe your class and offer advice or insight.
4. Actively Participate in Professional Development
In addition to observations, a teacher’s confidence tends to increase after attending professional development courses. Specifically, when teaching STEM-related concepts, you and your students would benefit from any ideas and practices that you bring back from a convention or meeting. These new strategies can not only boost confidence, but can also impact your instructional practices and assessment in a positive way.
5. Train Using New Equipment
Another important way to build confidence is to “practice” using brand-new equipment, apps, or programs. While this practice would ideally take place outside of class, you’re still making a wise investment in time since you’ll be walking the students through the new procedures. So, the more confident you feel about using the new gear or program, the more secure and enthusiastic your students will feel as well.
For instance, if you’re just starting out with incorporating Sphero Edu Activities or using equipment such as robots in your instruction, you can take the Sphero Fundamentals Self-Guided Course at your own pace. This would give you a great start toward preparation for teaching students how to code and for using any of the Sphero programs or apps.
6. Anticipate Questions or Issues Ahead of Time
You can also try visualizing any challenges or questions students might have, any possibly confusing transitions, or any other classroom issues that might arise. And, more important, think of your answers and reactions. This visualization practice can bring huge benefits to your confidence as a teacher. However, try not to worry too much. While many of those situations might never happen, being prepared for any scenario is a game-winner.
7. Do Not Expect to Squeeze Everything into One Lesson
Also, you need to keep a realistic perspective on the time span of a project. Even with a block schedule of 80- to 90-minute classes at the secondary level, you can’t expect to complete a lengthy, multi-step task. At the elementary level, you still have to consider age-related attention spans even if you’re working on a project that includes different core subjects and could take up most of the afternoon. Basically, breaking down projects and lessons into separate parts will take the pressure off you and allow for review and a check for understanding.
8. Recognize Your Students’ Achievements
Finally, acknowledging your students’ progress and milestones typically boosts their confidence—and yours as well. When you see that your students are perfecting skills and grasping concepts, you can feel good about your performance as a teacher. Plus, keeping up with your students’ accomplishments in your class allows you to see the big picture and make decisions more effectively about when you can “move on” to the next part of the curriculum, or when you need to allow for more practice of skills. This practice will also boost your teacher confidence because you’re gaining proficiency in your subject area.
Teacher Confidence: Final Thoughts
Above all, the greatest key to boosting your confidence as a teacher with STEM concepts is to just go for it. In relation to coding, building and programming robots, or teaching quadratic equations for the first time, you can refer to online tutorials, like the indi Fundamentals Self-Guided Course, collaborate with other math or science teachers who want to try a cross-curricular unit, or observe other content experts in person or check out what they're doing online. Plus, as mentioned, teaching takes practice, which creates experience and confidence. Students learn from mishaps, and so can you. Try new things, test new approaches, and explore our blog to learn more ways Sphero can help.