Building Self-Esteem in Students

While is it not a specific task of the teacher, it is important for teachers to foster positive self-esteem in their students. Research has shown that positive human relations are related to positive human behaviors . These positive behaviors are fostered in students by both displaying and encouraging positive behaviors, along with managing vocabulary used about students.

The primary way of fostering positive self-esteem is to model the expected behaviors. Students see how teachers interact with other teachers, parents, and administrators. The self-talk of the teacher while in the presence of students teaches them how the teacher feels about themselves. Further, the way the teacher interacts with the students shows how the teacher feels about the students. All three of these types of interactions need to reflect the empathy and respect the teacher is expecting from the students.

The teacher also needs to encourage the students to use these positive behaviors. This can happen is both a direct and indirect fashion. The teacher can call out certain behaviors that are expected and mandate their use by the students. The teacher can also identify behaviors that are forbidden and require they not be used. Besides the direct methods a teacher can address this in a softer, indirect way. An example of this is to say, “Wow, is that the way we talk to each other?” or, “Is that the way we do things?” when poor behaviors are exhibited. This has the additional benefit of making the students think about what they have done and compare it the identified expectations.

The final, and possible most important, is the vocabulary used by the teacher. When discussing problem behavior of a student, be sure to address the behavior, not the student. “Jonny is acting like a bully,” is better than, “Jonny is a bully.” This separates Jonny from his behavior and let’s Jonny know his behavior is bad without saying that Jonny is bad.

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