How to Instill Self-confidence in Students

March 7, 2020
Managing to instill self-confidence in students is the responsibility of any good teacher. Today we'll look at some guidelines to make this task easier.

How to instill self-confidence in students is a question that many teachers ask themselves throughout their careers. Many know very well how to fulfill this responsibility, while others are still searching for the best way to carry it out.

In this day and age, being able to instill self-confidence in students is considered one of the key qualities of a good teacher. This self-confidence helps produce an academic environment that makes learning easier and more enjoyable.

Today we’ll present you with information based on a 2011 study. This research suggests that the self-confidence of students has a positive correlation with academic performance and better behavior.

Orienting learning towards goals to instill self-confidence in students

If we establish clearly defined goals with our students, the entire class will have a better understanding of individual and collective achievements. Teachers should clarify goals not only at the beginning of the school year but in regard to each lesson and assignment as well.

Basing teaching and learning on specific objectives involves making decisive affirmations about the daily learning objectives. For example, you can start a lesson with the phrase, “Today we’re going to learn the first step in division.” Then, when the class comes to an end, you can say: “Congratulations! Now you’re prepared to show what you’re learning about division.”

How to Instill Self-confidence in Students

Working with this type of approach helps students have confidence in their own progress. This leads to an overall increase in both learning and motivation.

Encouraging a growth mindset

“A fixed mindset understands a student’s own abilities to be rigid and unflexible. In contrast, a growth mindset believes that learning is fluid and changing, and that its goal is to develop abilities and talents through effort and persistence.”

– Carol Dweck –

Fixed mindset

Many students believe that their intelligence, abilities, and talents are fixed characteristics that they cannot change. And these students with a fixed mentality may not be interested in learning or trying to improve. They may feel embarrassed when they struggle academically or have a hard time grasping new concepts.

Growth mindset

At the same time, students with a growth mindset believe that they’re capable of improving through persistence and hard work. They know they can develop their talents and abilities if they make an effort and refuse to give up. To instill self-confidence in students, we must first encourage a growth mindset.

These students have a positive reaction to lessons and to feedback from their teachers. What’s more, they are more willing to try new methods.

While the details of pedagogy may be subtle, a common way to instill a growth mindset involves a very simple action. For example, encouraging students to expand their answers in a more detailed way. Another example is using success folders.

Using success folders to instill self-confidence in students

Over the course of a semester or a particular class, students may have a hard time remembering their progress and their achievements. Success folders address this common problem, providing first-hand evidence of each student’s individual growth. So, how can you create these folders and use them in your class?

First, give each student a folder. Then, have students write down their own personal concept of success. Each day (or each week), give your class time to add personal examples of learning success to their folders. This may mean summaries of the homework they completed, explanations of new concepts they’ve learned, exams or assignments they did well on, etc.

Before beginning each week, each student will review his or her own success folder. This will help encourage them to reflect on their achievements in a positive manner.

At the same time, it will provide them with first-hand evidence of their growth and help instill self-confidence. As a result, students will be more optimistic about learning.

Calm and encourage students verbally

If you want students to believe in themselves, you first need to show them that you believe in them, too. This is the argument of elementary school teacher Dr. Todd Whittaker in his book: 50 Ways to Improve Student Behavior: Simple Solutions to Complex Challenges.

How to Instill Self-confidence in Students

“Too many professors forget to do this, to tell and show their students that they truly beleive in them.”

– Todd Whittaker –

Let’s not allow ourselves to get lost in the abyss of pedagogical theories and theoretical advice. Let’s not forget, as educators, about something as simple and powerful as talking with our students. Calming them and encouraging them verbally is a fundamental way to instill self-confidence and make them believe in their abilities.

Therefore, there are endless ways in which teachers can instill self-confidence in their students. And this is a goal that we should never stop striving towards. If we’re successful, then we’ll manage to create classrooms where every student is more prone to learn and excel.

  • American Society for Horticultural Science. (2011). Student confidence correlated with academic performance, horticultural science class study finds. ScienceDaily.
  • Carol Dweck. (2007). Mindset. Universidad de Stanford.
  • Todd Whitaker. (2009). 50 Ways to Improve Student Behavior: Simple Solutions to Complex Challenges. Paperback.