Even if you’ve never had a parent at your throat for “picking on my kid,” it’s hard to maintain confidence in your teaching when administrators nag you about keeping order, the school board wants to know why your class isn’t in the top percentile, and colleagues tell horror stories about the students you’ll have next term. Many teachers give in and let everyone (including the students) bully them. Others, not daring to assert themselves with fellow adults, take out their frustrations by playing slave-driver with their classes.
Both approaches are manifestations of low self-confidence that says, “All I can do is try to survive.”
When you have no confidence in yourself, it’s near impossible to convince students you’re teaching something worth learning. And when you look to administrators or educational theorists to tell you exactly what to do, you’re prone to changing your approach whenever another person questions your actions, and your teaching will be halfhearted and inconsistent.
Not to mention criticism from the children themselves: “Jamie’s parents let her do it,” “It’s not fair,” “If you really loved me …”
Besides making you a better teacher, self-confidence can help you influence students toward becoming more confident themselves:
Were you surprised that self-confidence includes so much willingness to admit your imperfections and encourage others to speak up? Many people think that confidence means never admitting you’re wrong. Actually, that’s the opposite of real confidence: it means being terrified of being wrong, unwilling to risk anything that might reinforce self-doubt, unwilling to grow—unwilling to be fully human.
Your students will respect you more for believing in your own real, fallible-but-confident self. And their appreciation can only help your self-confidence as a teacher.