How Teachers Can increase their confidence in the classroom Even as a child, I would play with a


Even as a child, I would play with a large chalkboard in my basement and “teach” my dolls and stuffed animals how to spell and do math. As I grew, I always wanted to be a teacher, but something else was going on that hindered me. I was shy, self-conscience and lacked confidence. In elementary school, I would have to give an oral report for English and when my face would turn red, and my voice would stammer, and I had to sit down in sheer humiliation, I wondered how could I ever teach a classroom of students. Finding out ways for a teacher to build self-confidence in the classroom is a great place to start as I complete Unit 20 of the ITTT Course.

Now that I have grown and learned more about myself and life in general, the things that would cause my heart to race do not affect me anymore. However, teaching English as a Foreign Language to non-native speaking students requires a great deal of confidence in yourself. Never having the experience before, I still wonder how can I teach a classroom of students. The teacher needs to be able to communicate with students that may not understand a word you are saying. By the same token, you may not understand them either. There is a great chasm between you and the class which needs to be crossed. I have always marveled at how a successful teacher actually teaches students. It is something I have always wanted to do.

One thing the teacher has that the students do not have is the mastery of the English language that they have come to learn. The teacher is at a great advantage from the start. I have often wondered about the plight of our immigrant ancestors that came through Ellis Island during the turn of the century from Europe, Eastern Europe and other places to build a life in America. They came here seeking a better way of life for themselves and their children. They faced insurmountable discrepancies given language barriers and discriminations which abounded unfettered. Today, as then, people want to assimilate in order to thrive in this country or even their own. English has become a global language as used in international air traffic control and the European Commonwealth. So a teacher can feel quite confident in the classroom environment of students who wish to learn English.

Speaking in front of an audience is the most fearful situation known to humans. Like anything, the more often you do something, the easier it is. There are certain techniques you can learn to be a better speaker and get over the initial anxiousness of speaking in front of a group. Only when you actually do it will you be able to overcome anxieties. There are many books about public speaking, such as Speak for Yourself by Robert Montgomery, Holding Audience Attention by L. Perry Wilbur and others about speaking with confidence, substance and power. There are secrets to command attention, such as dress in a professional manner, walk with confidence, stand erect, look at the audience, project your voice and speak with authority. There are ways to control fear, such as be prepared, practice often, record yourself, know that it is okay to feel nervous, breathe deeply. There are ways you can be a storyteller and grasp your classrooms attention as in Donald Davis’ Telling Your Own Stories. I am sure there is even a book “Teaching with Confidence for Dummies” if you look hard enough.

I am sure the list is endless to build confidence as you teach English as a Foreign Language. While I am waiting for the opportunity to arrive in which I will have my first class of students, I will be planning, preparing and practicing different ways and making observations of techniques I view as successful. In actuality, though, it will have to come naturally and confidently when I actually start teaching students the wonderful gift of language called English.

1. Krannich, Caryl Rae, Ph.D., 101 Secrets of Highly Effective Speakers, p. 2, Impact Publications, Manassas Park, Virginia