Believing in yourself and your ability to succeed is self-efficacy, and nurturing it in your students will make them more successful in their lives.

Research done in this field demonstrated that teachers can make a difference in their students’ self-efficacy through their teaching methods and the learning environment created in their classroom. A study by Fenci and Scheel showed that engaging students in a creative and cooperative structure can have a positive effect in not only improving self-efficacy, but also learning.

So how can educators create a culture of self-efficacy within their classroom and school to overcome anxiety and build confidence? Start with these six things you can implement today.

1. Communicate Goals

self-efficacyTeaching self-efficacy can begin with setting short-term goals that your students can realistically achieve. Mastering these goals gives them confidence, and success in reaching goals strengthens their belief that they can learn. Praise given for a student’s effort, combined with encouragement to meet the challenge of attaining their goal, has been shown to be more effective than stressing the student’s ability. A child sometimes steps away from a challenge as a result of fear of failure if told “you are smart, you can do this.”

2. Praise Sincerely

It is important to remember, however, that honest praise is the best support given to promote self-efficacy. Your students look to you when they fail and an honest response to help with a new approach builds more confidence than falsely assuring them that they did their best. Go over the student’s work and help them to see what they did well, and assist them in finding ways to use those strengths to succeed. Getting them to turn a setback into a learning situation helps them to learn from mistakes and do better the next time.

3. Focus on Environment

Another way to promote self-efficacy is by creating a stress-free environment in the classroom. Using a less formal and high energy class review before a big test can reduce anxiety and help the students believe in themselves. Showing that they can get the right answers in a contest against their classmates demonstrates that they know the material and will be successful when taking a test on it.

4. Create Clear Expectations

self-efficacyHaving a specific outline or plan for writing a book report, together with a time table for reading the novel; identification of characters, setting, and conflicts; and deadline for the final written report teaches the way to learn and promotes self-efficacy. Teaching a successful learning approach shows that success or failure is usually based on focusing attention on the task and following the instructions, not the base intelligence of the student.

5. Provide Role Models

Self-efficacy can also be learned by one student watching another student succeed. Have your class divide into groups which include students who can be role models for others. But be careful not to compare one student’s performance against another’s. Those not among the top performers will suffer and lose their self-efficacy. If you’re afraid of this pitfall, share role models from history or pop culture for students to emulate. Knowing Einstein wasn’t a strong math student in school could help students see their own destinies aren’t tied to test scores.

6. Become a Role Model

Teachers and administrators can’t neglect their own need for high self-efficacy. They are role models for the students and their capabilities in managing the school and setting a high educational standard help to shape the student’s attitude toward learning. Demonstrating your motivation to succeed, excitement in trying new ideas, and overcoming obstacles shows your students the path toward achieving success.

Embrace self-efficacy and together you and your students can meet challenges, be motivated to succeed, learn from failures, and achieve an attitude of confidence that you can do it!

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