Articles for Teachers

Five Ways to Build Student's Self-Esteem
By:J.C. Sprenger

Just like everyone, your students will have unique qualities that make up their individuality. These qualities are developed from the environment in which the student is raised as well as inheritance through the family.

Each student has something unique to be offered to the classroom and to the world. In the midst of growing up, sometimes these special qualities often get clouded by the need to be accepted and to follow the crowd. The student succumbs to the pressure from peers and squelches all of the things that make him/her unique in order to fit in. This is where the teacher can step in and encourage students to be themselves by incorporating activities in the classroom that foster self esteem.

1. Recognize the Student's Strengths in the Classroom

Find something the student excels at and emphasize this strength. For instance if the student is good at one aspect of a classroom lesson, recognize the student for this strength by having him/her assist other students who are struggling with this aspect of the lesson. Many times you will find that if students are recognized for strength, they will strive to achieve in other areas.

2. Be Specific with Compliments

Telling the class that you are proud of them does not convey to the students exactly why you are proud of them. Praise students individually and let them know exactly what it was that they did that made you proud of them. They are more likely to repeat the achievement and be more attentive in the classroom environment.

3. Display Your Student's Work

Students look for approval and recognition from adults and displaying their work is a great way to communicate praise, as well as provide the student with the advantage of receiving praise from others. The student will also be more likely to turn out their best work if they know that others will be viewing their achievement.

4. Show Respect for the Student

Your students will come from a wide variety of backgrounds and in some cases; the student's trust in adults has been breached. This can occur through abuse or neglect in the home environment, belittling from another teacher, a crime committed against the student, and many other unfortunate related incidents.

Establishing a trusting relationship with some students takes time and patience and is not an easy task. Consistently show your respect for these students, persevere, and most likely the student will eventually begin to trust you.

Remember if your students trust you, they will be more relaxed in the classroom environment and more receptive to learning.

5. Attend Your Student's Extracurricular Activities

Get to know what your students do when they are not in your classroom. Attending their extracurricular activities shows your support for them as a whole person and not just what they do in your classroom. It shows that your concern extends beyond how they achieve in your classroom. In addition, some of your students do not have any support in the home environment, which means most likely no one is attending their extracurricular activities. Seeing a teacher there will mean the world to your students, boost their self-esteem as well as their academic achievement in the classroom.

J.C. Sprenger has been teaching at a local high school for 6 years as a special education (inclusion) teacher. Before that, he was a university professor in Mexico (10 years) teaching English to Mexican students. He has a B.A. in psychology and a Master's in Education. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, he now makes his home in Brownsville, Texas. He has been a freelance writer for 15 years in newspapers and recently on the Internet.

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