Student Teacher Advice: Develop Confidence

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Author Bio: Dede Rittman is a 37 year veteran retired English/Theater teacher turned award-winning author and speaker.  Student Teaching:  The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher, is available at www.dederittman.com and www.amazon.com.

Dede’s weekly inspirational blog for teachers, Lessons Learned from the Bunny Teacher, is at www.bunnyteacher.blogspot.com You can hear Dede on the radio at The Total Education Network, where she is Co-Host and Producer. Follow Dede on Twitter @dederittman; LinkedIn Dede Rittman; Facebook Dede Faltot Rittman and Rittman Rules; Google+ Dede Rittman, or you can email Dede at dederittman@gmail.com

I loved teaching school for 37 years, and I retired when my husband was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer, and the handwriting was on the wall.  But in my quest for continuing to contribute to education, I wrote a book for student teachers, Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop from A Master Teacher, with the practical advice that everyone should find useful.  I cover everything from Dressing for Success and Minding Your Manners to Developing Your Teacher Voice and Organizing Yourself and Your Students.

But something was still needed – a special something or somethings that would tie all of the important topics together for every student teacher; a concept that would weave throughout their entire teaching and learning experience, and help them to be successful.  I decided on the Three C’s for Success in the Classroom (and beyond) – Confidence, Communication, and Creativity.

Let’s start with Confidence, which is a trait required to be a leader, and what is a teacher, but a classroom leader?  Now, many of you probably heard that the number one fear is not being eaten by a shark or being buried alive, it is the fear of  . . .  PUBLIC SPEAKING!

Such a strange phenomenon, when you think that many student teachers come into the classroom with no public speaking experience!  They have to be terrified. I went to school in what I guess was a fairly progressive school district, which required public speaking as a class in grades 7, 8, and 9. There is nothing like giving speeches to junior high peers to either make or break your confidence.  All I know is, I am better for having taken a Public speaking class for 3 years.  But what of the students who don’t? How can student teachers develop their confidence?

Student teachers can start with how they look.  If the look is combed, de-linted, polished, and professional, they are bound to feel better about speaking to a group of students. Kids, no matter what their ages, notice every tiny thing about the teacher’s appearance!  Mrs. Rittman, you did your nails in pink!  You forgot to wear your topaz ring today!  You have a really big hole in the knee of your panty hose. Did you fall?

I believe in the adage that if you feel and you look good, you will perform better.

In order to perform confidently, a teacher must know the material thoroughly. This is imperative, as preparation is key to a good performance. New teachers must spend hours of preparation time, in some cases, learning the curriculum for the first time.

I know that when I began my career, I was required to teach many fiction and nonfiction pieces that I had never seen before. The hours of preparation, and knowing the material, made me feel so much more confident in front of a classroom.

Self-talk and self-validation are also good tools to use if confidence is wavering.  For instance, right before the lesson, student teachers should say to themselves: the students want to hear what I have to say, I am sharing information in a positive and humorous manner, I am prepared and know my material, so there is no reason for me to be nervous.

Find the faces in the classroom who are interested and make eye contact.  Smile.  Pretend that you are enjoying yourself, and after a bit of practice, you will love being in front of the class.  I have always likened teaching to being on the stage, with every performance being important for your audience.

Remember that you are a student teacher, not a master teacher.  It is OK to make a mistake, and remember to always keep your sense of humor.  Look your best, be prepared, and give your best.

ALWAYS believe in yourself, and your confidence will shine through. Best of luck!

In the next issue, I will discuss the second C for Success in the Classroom- Communication.

 

 

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