Importance of Self-esteem
Teachers know that most children don’t learn simply because they love learning. Many other factors will influence whether or not a child will experience success. Individual, class and teacher self-esteem will affect learning. This article addresses the importance of creating positive self-esteem to promote learning.
The key to building a safe, happy classroom environment is promoting self-esteem.
Ever notice how students repeat things you have said when talking to their peers? Students model themselves on the way we behave in a range of situations. It stands to reason that the way we demonstrate positive self-esteem provides a model for students to demonstrate positive self-esteem. This is why when we have a bad day, they seem to follow! Similarly, when students are demonstrating poor self-esteem, we need to work hard not to follow suit. In fact, it is our job to build their self-esteem so they can be effective learners.
Here are some classroom (and out of classroom) indicators for why we should demonstrate good self-esteem:
- it empowers us to act positively;
- we respect others;
- we admit mistakes;
- we keep trying to achieve goals despite failures.
Student self-esteem is boosted when:
- students feel the positive effects of being responsible;
- we listen to them and suspend our feelings until we understand the feelings of the student;
- students demonstrate the good self-esteem we have modelled;
- we believe in our students and that they can achieve exceptional goals.
We need to manage student behaviour in an encouraging manner. Show respect for students while steering them towards taking responsibility for themselves and promoting the indicators for good self-esteem. When a class unit shares positive self-esteem, it will then begin to work as a team with its teacher.
There is a class in my school that shows little pride in its classroom or work and seems to be very negative about school.
- This class needs an identity! Organise an activity that will produce something to brighten the classroom. This could be a class sign or mural. The children and the teacher need to work together to do this. Having photographs of the children displayed around the classroom can also help to build a class identity.
- Promote positive self-esteem! Choose a task and set a goal that the children can achieve in a week. This can be something simple such as putting bags away neatly or lining up. Help them to achieve it and PRAISE them when they do. They will want this praise again. Mention their success in assembly or to the Principal in front of the class.
- Class discussions are a great way of building self-esteem. Set rules first such as one person talking at a time and no negative comments. Talk about what they are good at, how they can make the classroom an enjoyable place to be and how individuals are feeling about the class. This will help issues to surface, which can be dealt with in a mature, controlled manner.
- Another way to promote positive self-esteem in a whole class is to implement a buddy system. This can be a very rewarding experience for both older and younger children.
There is a child in class who won’t answer questions in front of the others, shows very little pride in her work and cries if confronted about any of these issues.
- This child needs positive self-esteem! Give her some responsibility. This could be a monitor job such as handing out books or cleaning the board.
- If the child has managed the task well or completed a piece of work that is of a higher standard than normal, recognise this with praise. Tell or show another adult such as a classroom teacher, support staff or the Principal.
- Tell the parents that the child has progressed this week. Write a positive comment in her home–school book or diary.
There is a teacher at school who is very negative and uses defeatist language in the staffroom and with the children. He believes that he isn’t doing a good job and that there is no support from management.
- This teacher needs affirmation just like the children!
- We (as teachers) need to be told the things we are doing well.
- We need goals set for us that we can work towards and feel success in.
- We need support in the things we find difficult.
- Sometimes we just also need a big friendly SMILE!
Tips for Teachers
Praise often – but only when you mean it. Children can quickly pick a fake. Be spontaneous in the way you praise – unexpected praise is the most effective.
Smile as often as you can – it is contagious. A big smile in the morning as the children enter the classroom will make grumpy faces disappear.
A wink can say a thousand positive words and will make the quiet student feel he or she has not been forgotten.
Remind the class of the things they do well. This could be putting bags away neatly, packing up at the end of the day or sharing.
Be conscious about the language you use with the children. Does it encourage or show defeat? Do you say, ‘This is the worst packing up I’ve seen this week’ or ‘Show me the “packing up stars” that you are’ ?
If a child is not speaking it is likely he or she feels that no-one is listening. Speak to him or her privately or play class discussion games such as ‘I like you because…’ or ‘Things that I am good at.’
Give students a feeling of being organised by preparing them for what is going to happen in the day.
Show good work when students get started to give others a benchmark to work towards. Let them know the focus of the task. If a writing task has been set let them know that today you are looking for capital letters and full stops. When students know what is expected, they work twice as hard.
Show disappointment in poor behaviour, not anger. Encourage students who have behaved poorly at every opportunity following their incident.
Set short-term goals on those days when students are disagreeable.
When marking books, always write one positive comment before you mention the things that need working on.