Promoting Self-Esteem in the Classroom

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  • 0:03 Classroom Self-Esteem
  • 0:40 Creating a Community
  • 1:59 Building Self-Esteem
  • 4:05 Communication
  • 5:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

Want to have a classroom full of proud and confident students? This lesson is all about developing and promoting self-esteem in the classroom. Learn how you can get your students on the path to high self-esteem.

Classroom Self-Esteem

If you've ever had a student with low self-esteem, you know how hard it can be to bring that child out of his or her shell. Low self-esteem can show up in a variety of ways, including acting out, bullying, becoming easily frustrated, quitting, and refusing to try. When students lack confidence in themselves, it will reflect in many areas of their life, including academic development. For this reason, it's important for you to include student confidence and self-esteem development into your daily routine. This lesson discusses ways to create a classroom that not only promotes self-esteem, but actually builds it from the ground up.

Creating a Community

First and foremost, before you can promote self-esteem in the classroom, you have to actually build a platform for it. To do this, you need to create a classroom community so students learn to respect, value, and support one another.

  • Have students create guidelines together so they know which behaviors are allowed in the classroom.

  • Let them be part of the decision-making process, as this reinforces the notion that their opinions, ideas, and input are valued.

  • Display the guidelines for everyone to see, and review them regularly, until everyone knows them by heart.

  • Lead by example and display the behavior you wish to see in return.

These guidelines should help everyone feel safe, respected, and supported. In addition to having guidelines in place to encourage respect, a classroom community can help in developing self-esteem by encouraging students to make mistakes.

  • Allow students to see you make mistakes, so they know it is normal, accepted, and part of the learning process.

  • Cheer your students on, while also encouraging them to cheer one another on for trying new things.

  • Let everyone know that it's okay to make mistakes; no one should ever be ridiculed or mocked for their errors.

If students see they will be supported, rather than teased, for their struggles, they will be more likely to try, even if they know they could fail.

Building Self-Esteem

Once you establish a classroom community, it's time to work on building your students' sense of confidence and self-esteem. As students begin developing self-esteem, their academic competence will increase. Then, like a cycle of positivity, so will self-esteem. Aim to build students up according to various life areas (social, academic, cognitive), so they feel nurtured as a whole person, not just as your academic student. Here are some ways to build and promote self-esteem:

Value Students Individually

  • Value each student for his or her individual strengths and abilities.

  • Do not compare students to one another.

  • Teach students to recognize and value one another's differences.

  • Give individual, rather than generic whole group, praise so students can see how their individual contributions matter.

  • Give high fives, handshakes, eye contact, and individual attention to your students. Respect them, just as you want them to respect you.

Establish Goals, Allow Choices

  • It's also important to establish realistic and achievable goals with your students.

  • Break down large assignments, so students can manage their work without feeling overwhelmed and helpless.

  • Help students develop decision-making and problem-solving skills and offer choices so students can practice using decision-making skills.

  • Increasing self-esteem also entails creating coping strategies for stress or when students struggle with achieving a goal.

Be Sincere

  • Offer only sincere interest in your students. Empty praise can let students down.

  • Never use sarcasm, never mock your students' efforts, and never bring up their past failures.

  • Show excitement in the progress students are making by displaying their achievements, no matter how small.

  • Discuss your own failures, struggles, and fears with your students. Share coping strategies you have used, and ask for their input for what strategies you can use in the future.

  • Teach students according to their learning styles and needs, not according to your teaching style.

  • Learn your students' strengths and interests so you can call upon those details to help motivate and encourage them when struggles or low self-esteem kicks in.

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