Improving Student Self-Confidence

Take a second to watch : The Power of Words

Much too often, I hear students say, “I’m stupid,” or “I can’t do it, I give up.” These words are heartbreaking to hear. Furthermore, these words are undeniably devastating to the confidence and spirits of our students. The words they speak are oftentimes the words that they believe. Unfortunately, it is likely that these words have been said before by people  that these students trust. Maybe a mother or father, a sibling, a coach, or a teacher. These deep-rooted statements lead students to feel that they are incapable; that they are failures. As educators, we must create an nurturing environment in which student strengths are recognized, affirmed, praised, developed, and applied to their learning. While recognizing these strengths, we must improve student weaknesses. Students have unlimited potential and as teachers, we should provide our students with oppportunities that will allow them to thrive and develop cognitively, socially, and emotionally. Confidence in a student is a key component to learning how to collaborate, socialize, and take risks. There are several ways in which we can instill in our students a strong sense of confidence. We can provide them with leadership opportunities that will help them to become more confident in their abilities. We can ask them for their input and praise them for what they contribute.

Here are some additional strategies to improve student self-confidence and efficacy, suggested by Melissa E. DeRosier, PhD  of the Institute for Social Development and Stacey W. Lloyd, MPH, of RTI.

  • Build community with collaborative learning. Classroom and small group projects promote cooperation and build social skills by giving each student a task essential to the success of the project. One student may be responsible for organizing the research, while another may be responsible for illustrations or proofreading.
  • Value each student’s unique abilities and contributions. Achieve this by publicly calling attention to something one student did for another, or privately. Displaying art or other work is another way to show a student you value his contributions.
  • Recognize and praise student success publicly. At the schoolwide level, quarterly honor roll assemblies may occur. Showcase their work. Perhaps, have a bulletin board in that classroom that recognizes student work or successes.
  • Ban disparaging comments from the classroom. This included negative self-talk.
  • Utilize technology for teaching and learning. An article about the benefits of technology at the US Department of Education website points to research that shows technology can improve student motivation and self esteem. It may also be used to reinforce basic academic concepts.
  • Incorporate games into lesson plans. Games are especially useful to reinforce math facts. Multiplication or Addition War is a game based on the card game War. Deal a standard deck of cards, then have players turn two cards face up. Each player multiplies or adds his cards. The player with the highest sum wins the round and collects all of the played card
  • Create a student-centered classroom where students help each other learn, solve problems and help make class rules.
  • Focus on the number correct when grading papers instead of the number wrong. Seeing -12 at the top of a paper is an emotional let-down. It fosters feelings of failure and frustration. On the other hand, seeing 88/100 at the top of a paper promotes a much more positive emotional response. It helps the student realize that he or she can succeed, even though he got 12 questions wrong
  • Teach classroom expectations explicitly and practice good decision making.
  • Model and teach active listening skills. If two students are arguing about something and go to the teacher, the teacher will stay calm and listen to what each student has to say. She will then paraphrase what she heard back to the student. The students can speak to each other, with the teacher present, and then paraphrase what they heard the other say.

If you have additional strategies or would like to contribute to this discussion, please comment or send me an email at







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  1. Hi Carissa, nice job on your first blog! Can’t wait to read more.