A recent Guardian article on the latest research from the London School of Economics highlighted “confidence is key to success at schools.” Erm…I could have told them that without a survey or expensive research but I’m pleased that it has been picked up by a national paper.
Confidence is essential, not just for school but for life. You need confidence to make friends, to ace that exam, to apply for that job, to become someone you admire. All that takes confidence.
Sadly, young people today are filled with self – doubt. I often hear, “I can’t do it, Miss” “It’s too hard,” or worst of all, “What’s the point? I will never be able to do it anyway.”
This lack of confidence and self belief in their own ability to succeed is epidemic. What or who is responsible I don’t know. But I do know that as teachers we have a responsibility to help our students develop into confident and motivated young adults.
As a motivational and confidence boosting activity I have students write where they want to be in sixth months time, then a year, then in two years, three, five and so on. Before I do this, I stress that goals are not immovable objects. Goals are there to guide you, to keep moving you forward. Life after all, is about being flexible and adjusting to whatever it throws at you.
Goals are great but they are nothing without realistic action plans. I make students literally list out every single action that needs to be taken. For example, Kim received a D in her mock English GCSE.
Goal: Get a B in my GCSE exam
- Talk to teacher about possible exam topics
- Create a realistic revision timetable
- Research topics by using the internet, library and personal notes
- Create mind maps or helpful memory strategies and stick them all over my bedroom/study wall
- Form a study group with friends
- Practise past exam papers
- Review my revision notes for 10 minutes every day
- Go to the exam hall to make a memory palace
- Relax before the night of the exam. Visualise being successful in the exam.
- Rock the exam!
This may be simplistic but creating a step – by – step action plan makes a seemingly impossible goal become attainable. Suddenly, students faces light up as it dawns on them that they can do it, they can achieve.
You can see the difference when there is no action plan.
- Jim’s goal is to get a C in his Math exam so he must revise.
Revise what?! What is Jim’s strength and weaknesses? Is there a particular unit of maths he needs to improve? When will he revise?! How will he revise? Who will help him revise?!
I can feel poor Jim’s panic rising, the bewilderment of where to start or what to do next, as he stares blankly at his math’s text book, feeling stupid and frustrated. So he thinks “What’s the point?” gives up and walks away. His math’s exam becomes another thing he fails at bringing his confidence to an all time low.
Having a clear, simple and structured action plan makes a world of difference. This doesn’t just apply to short – term goals or exams. Take Jenny’s lead; she is in her final year at sixth form.
Goal: To become a paediatric nurse
- Find out what the entry requirements are to become a nurse (2 or 3 A – Levels)
- Ask friends and family if they know any nurses to get firsthand advice
- Apply for work experience with children, preferably local hospitals.
- Visit universities offering nursing courses – pick top three!
- Begin application process
- Write first draft of personal statement then ask for advice from teachers and parents
- Re-write statement until happy!
- Submit application
- Be accepted onto a course
- Complete the course
Each action point can be broken down even further as and when they come up. Simple yet effective!
I suggest to students they should keep their goals and action plans somewhere safe – their wallet, diary, favourite coat pocket, or bedroom wall – so if it all gets too much or they just need to remind themselves of their aims, its there within reaching distance just like their dreams.
With confidence, you have won before you have started. – Marcus Garvey
Failing all that, check out my ‘Be More Awesome. Be You’ roadshow