This month's Teaching Tip comes from How to Write an Essay, Grades 6-8.
Positive self-esteem abounds in a child-centered classroom. When curriculum is relevant and motivating, students are eager to learn. They choose independent practice at a comfortable ability level. Because they feel comfortable with their choices, students freely take risks and extend themselves. They choose to learn and feel good about their choices. Taking responsibility for learning is a foundation of a child's self-esteem.
In a healthy classroom setting, children are not individually compared. Rather, an individual's growth throughout the process of learning is recognised. Assessment is often based on observations made during actual learning situations and on a collection of work samples produced over time. Using these, a child's learning growth can be demonstrated to him/herself and others. The esteem-boosting result is, "Look how much I'm learning!"
Teachers need to ensure success for each student. If a child needs encouragement and/ or prompting at a task, find a classmate who can do that. If the child constantly chooses tasks which are much too difficult, help adjust the tasks so that child will succeed. Always provide books and activities to challenge yet provide success. Too much teacher interaction will send a signal to the student that he is not capable. The child needs to feel worthy of trust and reliable. Remember that the most powerful interaction a teacher can provide a student is positive reinforcement.
Student ownership of the classroom naturally instills a positive sense of inclusion. It also creates a positive sense of obligation or commitment by each student as a member of a classroom community. This is important for class and individual self-esteem.
Download This Tip (PDF)