The Secret That All Successful Teachers Know

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Effective teachers know that there's a connection between knowing how to build confidence in kids and how to help children succeed.

characteristics of a successful teacher

Causes Of Achievement Gap

Successful teacher characteristics vary, but the one thing successful teachers all have in common is that they really get to know their students—what makes them happy, what makes them tick, and what makes them feel confident. Confidence and success are intricately tied for all of us, and successful teachers understand that the real secret to how to help children succeed lies in figuring out how to build confidence in kids. On VProud there's a pointed conversation about this very topic. Content and social coordinator Nicole Hempeck reflects on this from the lens of a former teacher and a current mother. Take a look at what Nicole has to say about what our kids really need to be successful, we think you'll find her analysis to be both eye-opening and a relief. So many parents feel like they need to choose between focusing on their kids' success and on their kids' happiness. The good news is that focusing on these is more the same than it is different.

—The VProud Team

causes of achievement gap

How To Help Children Succeed And Build Confidence In Kids At The Same Time

By Nicole Hempeck for VProud

Another school year is beginning for our kids and like many parents, I am consumed with the unknowns of the year.

Will their teacher be a good fit?

Will they be in a classroom of kids who embrace them for who they are?
Will they feel confident enough to raise their hand when they aren’t sure and need extra help?

Will they also feel confident enough to raise their hand and share what they do know and contribute to a class discussion?

As a prior educator, I know all too well the role confidence plays in a child’s overall feeling that they had a successful school year. When I think of a successful year, I don’t consider the A’s on a report card as the sole indicator. Sure, grades are important, but what’s even more important is the child’s ability to be a quality problem solver, a confident classmate who can demonstrate their skills, and a seeker of assistance when they are unsure, without the fear of judgement by their counterparts and teacher.

So how does we ensure this can happen?

There isn’t one method for all students. We have to recognize each child’s individual needs and tweak accordingly. Teachers should foster positive, accepting environments that thrive off of diversity in thought, talent, and ability. This can be done in the classroom when you make a conscious effort everyday to be tuned into your students and their emotional as well as educational needs.

At home, the same rules apply. Each of our children are very different, a method that works for one child may not work for another. Being comparative and rigid isn’t the best course of action. Look at each of your children, notice how they learn and organize their thoughts best, and help them make their process work for them.
When I was teaching, I remember a year when I had a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. When I entered that year, I was worried about how I would ensure he felt supported and included because social wasn’t his forte. This was the nature of who he was and what he was coping with. But he was very bright and extremely capable of offering insight into the many things we were studying in class, so it was important that he could share, and be heard. It was equally important that his classmates were genuinely open to that sharing of knowledge.

I wanted the rest of the class to gain a sense of community around the idea that our individual gifts are what make our classroom wonderful. And, because I set off the year with that mindset instituting a community-like plan with classroom meetings, among other things, we had a very nurturing and team-like environment. This resulted in each child feeling valued regularly. Each week they heard positive things about themselves because part of our regular goals included consistently making note of what our classmates were doing well. It was the most rewarding year for me as an educator to see them build each other up, and I’m sure it was just as rewarding for them. I realized the importance, more so than any year, of nurturing the whole student, not just their educational needs, but also their emotional needs. That year was a year of students with special needs, divorce, military kids moving in mid-year and more. A positive environment was a must.

As a parent, your role in building a child’s confidence is tricky. It doesn’t mean we don’t hold them accountable or we protect them from failure. Let me be clear on my personal perspective on that. As a teacher, I saw parents fight so hard for a grade that was not deserved. It was disheartening because of the messages it sent to their child. Let me also be clear that I am just a person, a mom, and a teacher who is going off of personal experience. So take this or leave it. But, I firmly believe that the most confident and capable adults are those who have been allowed to fail when they didn’t follow through on expectations.

The most important thing we can do as parents and educators when they do fail, is to offer a supportive and nurturing community of classmates, teachers, friends and family to help them through it. You can bet they are likely to fail fast, learn from their mistakes, and gain confidence from their experiences. At that point, they’ll pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and try again. That’s real confidence. The ability to believe they can move forward in spite of challenges.

nicole hempeck vproud
About the author: Nicole Hempeck is a one time educator turned content and social coordinator in the online world. She has been married to her handsome military guy for many moves and the birth of their three lovely ladies—a ten year-old tween who is an old soul and their feisty five year-old twins who are entering their kindergarten year. When Nicole isn't working hard for her clients or spending time with her family, you can find her at her own place and space online, Moments that Define Life. Join Nicole's honest conversations on VProud.

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how to help children succeed
Mind the achievement gap:
Teachers are successful when they raise their students' confidence as much as their IQs.

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