New Teachers

Appearing Confident as a New Teacher

As part of my student teaching requirements, I have had two different individuals from my university come in and observe me teach. While I recieved compliments of how much my students respect me and enjoy the materials, and that I have a good variety of ways to teach the topic, both the instructors said that I totally lack confidence when I am up there teaching, which is something that I was unaware of both times. I understand that confidence comes with experience, but I was wondering if there are any teacher tricks or tips that helped you become more confident as a teacher. Thanks so much for your time and help!

Jennifer Smilan
Jennifer Smilan
293 Activity Points

Hi Jennifer!  You're a student teacher being observed by university professors. Who wouldn't be nervous?? Your observers noted your students' respect, their engagement with the materials, and the fact that you use a variety of instructional stratgies. It sounds like they may be equating nervousness with a lack of confidence. Can you ask them what a confident teacher looks like to them? (I'd be interested in their response!) What does your cooperating teacher say?  In the meantime, keep doing what you're doing and reflect on the class activities to make them even better! Good luck!  -- Mary B. 

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
9450 Activity Points

Hello Jennifer,

Like Pamela has said, who wouldn't be nervous!? 

I have a couple of pointers that might help alleviate the nerves. 

  • Your cooperating teacher and faculty advisors are not expecting perfection.  Be reflective of your lessons and work toward fixing any problems afterward.
  • You are older and more educated than all the students you will teach.  Even if you are young - and who isn't compared to me! - you likely have had more life experience and have also been in their shoes.  
  • It seems like you are well-prepared and the feedback is that you are doing very well on your lessons.  So grasp on to that and look at your lessons as a group of tasks that you need to perform and that you will very likely do them well!  This is your job and some young people aren't going to stop you or mess with that.  
  • Don't be afraid that something will go wrong.  Of course it will - you just have to cross that bridge when it comes.  If you are prepared fall back on that and reflect later on what you might improve upon.  Most times only you know that you made a mistake in your lesson or forgot something.  

Sometimes people equate hesitancy in making decisions or second-guessing yourself as a lack of confidence.   I have some pointers for that.

  • Safety concerns are always on top.  My mantra was, "Students will leave my classroom in the same health they entered." No arguments.  Never question yourself on a decision on someone's safety or being 'too' safe.  Don't relent on enforcing safety rules.  
  • My student teachers had to do an assignment for me before their first lesson.  They had to describe their vision of a perfect classroom.  What are the students doing?  What is going on?  What were they doing as the teacher?  What was the outcome?  What were the interactions like?  What kind of work were they receiving? I told them that every decision they made should be based on their vision of what their perfect classroom would be like.  So, does wearing a hat affect your perfect classroom?  If it does then tell the student to remove their hat.  Otherwise - let them wear it.  
  • You will not have the experience to make some snap decisions so defer them and talk to your cooperating teachers. Don't worry about it.  You'll learn.

Are you naturally quiet? 

  • This may be something you can consciously work on - projecting your voice more.  I have seen teachers who are different people in front of their classes than in the staffroom!  

 

Hope this helps!

Gabe Kraljevic

Gabe Kraljevic
Gabe Kraljevic
3268 Activity Points

Hello Jennifer,

 

I completely agree with the other responses. I believe the observers are describing lack of confidence as nervousness. I think many new teachers, and student teachers get nervous because we feel alot of pressure to know everything when we are teaching. I will begin student teaching in January and is nervous as well. I am super nervous, for I am teaching AP Biology & Chemistry. I want to be confident in front of my students but am nervous I will not display that confidence in front of my students.

 

Brooke Klostermann

Wartburg College '19

Brooke Klostermann
Brooke Klostermann
275 Activity Points

I agree, the most important factor is experience in order to build confidence while teaching. I also believe that it may just be nerves instead of lack of confidence. However, in order to try and cover up the nerves, here is a list of things to be aware of while teaching:

- good posture

- eye contact with students

- voice level (not too quiet, not too loud)

- pleasant facial expressions

- steady speed of talking (not too fast or slow) 

- clear pronouniation of words 

Hope this helps!

-Alexa Dixon

Alexa Dixon
Alexa Dixon
310 Activity Points

I really like all of the responses given here and I am certainly going to remember them as I start my own student teaching!  

It's good to be nervous!  It means you care and are wanting to give your students the best that you can!  Every observing teacher that I've had in the past has mentioned the nerves of new teachers.  They've all said that comfort will come with repetition.  Just remember that they are there to give you constructive criticism and if the only thing they can comment on is your nervousness then you must be doing pretty well!  If you're working with Middle or High school students, maybe share with them that you're a little nervous up there, it will make you more relateable and help put them at ease as well.....

Good Luck!! 

K-

Kelly Melham
Kelly Melham
760 Activity Points

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