You’ve got your TEFL Qualification, you’ve got your degree. Maybe you’ve even got experience in the TEFL classroom. But maybe you’re missing a key component, and you’re wondering how to be a confident teacher.
Confidence is key, they say. But what is confidence? That feeling when people ‘like’ your photo? The ability to strut down the street finger gunning people? Well, this article will help you achieve neither. Instead, we’re going to help you answer the question of how to be a confident teacher.
What falls within the realm of being a confident teacher? Inspiring students, displaying enthusiasm, taking responsibility, and more. There are a million different ways to increase self-confidence in teaching, with some methods being more effective than others.
Why Is Confidence Important for a Teacher?
Why is confidence important for a teacher? The question could just be “why is confidence important?” Because doing something is one thing but doing it with confidence is another. If you exude confidence, you’ll see more quality in what you do and more opportunities coming your way.
Enter an interview with confidence and you’re more appealing to employers. Walk with confidence and you look alluring. Dance with confidence, and you create a mirage that you’re a better dancer than you actually are. Remember Drake’s Hotline Bling dance? It was terrible, but he did it with confidence.
How to Be a Confident Teacher (Not an Arrogant Teacher)?
Confidence isn’t about being the loudest one in the room. Even the smallest dog can bark the loudest. Confidence is defined as “the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something,” and this can be done quietly. Whether you’re introverted or modest, you can still be a confident teacher. But of course, some will naturally be more confident than others.
What Is Teacher Confidence?
Teacher confidence in the classroom inspires students. When you’re wondering how to be a confident teacher, you need to consider what the best qualities of teachers are. Think about it, did your favorite teacher ever drag their feet and slouch? Did they shy away from responsibilities and questions? Even the appearance of confidence can have a dramatic effect on a student’s development within the classroom.
It’s About the Students, Not the Teacher
A confident teacher doesn’t worry about how they’re perceived by others in the classroom. They are committed to applying their capabilities to optimize student learning. When teaching, they’ll be able to focus entirely on the student’s progression, and not their self-evaluated performance as a teacher. Insecurity about their presentation or teaching methods is not only self-inflicting but can impair student development.
To be confident in oneself removes doubt about methods in the classroom. Would you feel inspired if you were led by someone who was doubting their own abilities? Would your favorite teacher have ever worried about what you or your peers thought of their “teaching philosophy”? More time worrying about what others think is more time wasted.
How to Be a Confident Teacher and Take Responsibility
Teacher confidence is also the ability to take responsibility for your lessons and your student’s development. This means preparing your lessons, answering your student’s questions, and accepting challenges with your students. Unless you’re teaching in a one-to-one classroom, you’re going to have to navigate through many learning styles simultaneously. That means you’ll have to cater to a variety of different learning styles at the same time and divide your time equally among your students.
So your student that auditory learner aced their test? Well done! But while you were rambling for hours, your other kinaesthetic student who relies on physical activities didn’t absorb a thing. As a result, he didn’t do as well in the test. You have to accept the fact that your students will develop at a different pace and in different ways, and you’ll have to address this responsibly.
How to Be a Confident Teacher?
Is it nature or nurture? Is confidence something you’re born with or something you harness? I have no idea. But, anyone can be more confident. Think about it. Usain Bolt is a naturally gifted athlete, but he still needed coaches to optimize his speed. Whether or not you’re ‘naturally’ confident, there’s no reason you can’t develop this aspect of yourself. Whether you grow with experience, compliments, or results, these methods will help you reach new levels of teaching confidence.
Leave Your Ego at the Door
When learning how to be a confident teacher, the first thing you should consider is leaving your ego outside the classroom. You’ll need to live up to your students’ creativity, as students (especially young learners) will rely on fun activities to disguise language acquisition. Reading and writing for hours on end is a sure way to lose interest, so you need to be creative. Now, you don’t have to be an overly caffeinated clown to be a teacher. However, loosening up and leaving your ego outside the classroom is one way you can develop confidence.
Instead of relying on relentlessly traditional activities, you can incorporate role play, charades, singing, and other things that are invigorating. The more you engage in silly (yet effective) activities, the more comfortable you’ll become doing things that aren’t glamorous or “cool”. “Be uncomfortable to get comfortable”, they say. Well, the more elephant impressions and singing you’re willing to do, the more bullet-proof your mind will become.
Accept Constructive Criticism
If you’re able to embrace criticism with open arms, you’ll become a better and more confident teacher. As I stepped out of my first lesson in Vietnam, my teaching assistant told me to sit down for a good portion of the next lesson. “Why?” I asked. “The students don’t understand you,” she said. At 21 years of age, and in a foreign country teaching at a school that I couldn’t locate on Google maps, I was disheartened. I went into panic mode, and doubted myself by thinking “this isn’t for me, maybe I’m just not a natural teacher.”
My teaching assistant made a few constructive points, and after the break, I led the classroom once again. And guess what? The lessons went very well. Don’t beat yourself up (like I did) if someone identifies a flaw in your abilities. Instead, use it as an opportunity to become an even more capable and skilled teacher. If anything, you should go out of your way to search for feedback. Accept the comments and you’ll improve as a teacher and become mentally invulnerable.
“Fake It Till You Make It”
Nope, I’m not talking about forging a degree or buying some dodgy TEFL Qualification from Gumtree. I’m talking about body language. When looking at the methods of how to be a confident teacher, you’ll be amazed at what a good posture can do for you and your students.
The students don’t know that you’re nervous. Only you do. Until you project a closed body language, that is. You want to project authority, not insecurity. If the class clown detects an ounce of insecurity, you will be undermined. Remember, it’s YOUR classroom and you’re leading the lesson. Why not act like it?
With good posture, a big smile, and open body language, you appear in-control and welcoming. This invites students to engage and ask questions. The more you interact with students, the more rapport you’ll form, and the more comfortable your classroom environment will be.
Even the simplest of adjustments to one’s body language can have a dramatic effect on your confidence, making you look like Don Draper. Make sure your shoulders are back and your chest is out, keep your hands out of your pockets, avoid crossing your legs. Instead, take up as much space as you can and don’t shy away from eye contact. By visualizing the most powerful version of yourself, you’re activating the law of attraction, by thinking it into existence.
It might take some effort to maintain initially, but eventually, it will feel natural. This will allow you to maintain an assertive posture, as opposed to a closed body language which will make you appear vulnerable. Here are 11 easy ways to fake confidence until it happens.
Establish Your Preferences
Remember, teaching is multi-various. Teaching young learners grammar is completely different from teaching Business English to adults. This is why you need to assess your strengths and establish your teaching preferences.
You can’t wonder “how to be a confident teacher” without considering which classroom setting will bring the best out of you. Do you thrive in an online classroom? Or in-school? At a summer camp? Would you prefer delivering more playful activities to children or would you rather teach adults in a relaxed fashion? Remember, it might take some time to discover what you like best!
How to Articulate With Authority
For your sake and your students, articulate with authority. This doesn’t mean you have to be a complete tyrant. It means you should take a deep breath, and take as much time as you need to get your decisive message across. As a socially awkward person, I would often speak too fast for my thoughts, and I’d jumble my words and project a very insecure appearance.
Now, I can safely say that I have the physical presence and voice to command a classroom. With a little more concentration through deeper breathing and making use of time, I speak like a confident teacher. This can be achieved by merely focusing on taking deeper breaths, and speaking at a slower rate, rinse and repeat until it becomes natural!
If you take a deeper breath, your voice will sound deeper and evince authority. When you take your time to speak, not only does it portray the image that you’re in control, it’s much easier for your students to understand you. What use are your brilliant activities if you can’t enunciate and communicate with your students? Here are 11 ways you can inflect your voice to become a more confident teacher.
Each Job Has Its Difficulties
Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, there are good days and there are bad days. You might find yourself irritable on the day when your students are particularly noisy, and that’s just teaching. Don’t be disheartened if you have a bad day (or a bad week) in the classroom. What can you do? Dust it off and go again!
Prepare Your Lessons
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. A clear, catchy, and overused expression. Nevertheless, it’s true. While you think you might have a clear idea in your head, you shouldn’t underestimate the unpredictability of a classroom. One day your students may be receptive, the next they might show disinterest and frustration.
A structured lesson plan will manifest itself in the classroom, and you’ll have the confidence to rely on the material you’re using to deliver the lesson. Once again, confidence is the ability to rely on something. How can you be confident if you can’t rely on your own lesson?
Give yourself plenty of time to assess what the lesson objectives are, and how you can achieve them. Determine what your warmer will be. “Warmers” are the quick activities that will not only introduce the English function to your students but will set the tone for your lesson. Be sure to have filler activities which will be the main activity to help the students learn, and end your lesson with a cooler to productively leave the students on a high. Read our guide Warmers-Fillers-Coolers to help structure your lesson plan with effective activities!
Class observations are an effective method under the list of how to be a confident teacher. It’s a great opportunity to take inspiration from other teachers, and essentially experiment without being the guinea pig!
It’s important that if you watch someone else teach, don’t draw comparisons between yourself and that teacher. Don’t focus on whether they’re better or not at teaching, but focus on what they’re doing right and draw inspiration from them.
Whether you’re watching a lesson online or you’ve been invited into the classroom, you can gain a lot of insight into activities that work (or which ones don’t). The more you observe, the more you’ll be able to anticipate in your lessons.
How to Be a Confident Teacher
You’ll realize things as you gain experience, and you’ll find that confidence comes with time. But, if you’re searching for quick and effective ways to maximize teacher confidence in the classroom, remember the following;
- Fake it with body language
- Establish your teaching preferences
- Stand tall and take your time
- A bad day doesn’t determine your abilities
- Prepare your lessons
- Observe other lessons
Remember, teaching doesn’t stop once you’ve got the job. Whether you’re teaching children online or preparing adults for global commerce, there is a lot to learn and a lot to explore in the TEFL industry! The more mistakes you make, the more you’ll learn, and the more good days you have the more you’ll love the job. Once you’re confident in your teaching abilities, you’ll be able to undertake any challenge in the classroom. Good luck with your TEFL adventure!