As educators, we know one of the best traits that can aid in success is confidence. Self-doubt can kill dreams and a lack of belief in oneself can deter anyone from achieving a goal and becoming successful. However, confidence is often something that we have or need at any given time. We need confidence, even for the smaller day to day routine things that we do. On the other hand, sometimes, we need courage to get through a situation. Courage is pushing through when things are tough or create fear. For example, it might take confidence to ace the final exam, but it takes courage to stick out a degree program when it puts finances in jeopardy, reduces work-life balance, and all your support systems are against you going for this goal.
As educators, we will see many students each year that need to build up their courage. They need our help and guidance on how to be courageous in a time of fearfulness or anxieties. Students face many life events along their four plus years with us, and to help them achieve their goal of earning a degree, we must also provide mentorship on how to be courageous.
Here are 3 ways you can guide students into being more courageous:
- Reduce Fears and Anxieties
If you want your students to be more courageous, remember that as a professor, your role is to teach, guide, model and inspire, not to show students how tough "the real world is." Learning new content and balancing education with life is already hard enough, no need to instill fear on top of this. As an added bonus, as you minimize fears and anxieties, and students push through, they build confidence.
To minimize fears and anxieties in your students, there are several things you can do, here are some tips:
- Set course expectations up front.
- Link students to helpful resources.
- Give them tips on what to do if they encounter technology problems.
- Provide your contact information and answer emails / calls in less than 24 hours.
- Give a little leeway in the event a student had a major life event occur during a specific week.
- Humanize yourself. You can do this by sharing a little about who you are personally, doing videos in the courseroom, using humor, building rapport.
- Don't give negative feedback in the open forum. Use personal email or gradebook feedback.
- Give feedback on assignments and discussion questions. This helps the student to know what they have done well with and where they can improve. No feedback leaves students in the dark as to what they can improve on and how.
- Encourage Students to Focus on What They Can Control
In a classroom setting, you are the authority. Students may feel intimidated at times or feel that they have limited power. Perhaps they don't like the content, don't understand it, or are having personal troubles while also trying to manage their education. As a professor, if you want to increase your student's courage, help students to focus on what is in their control. This will help students persevere in the face of adversity or trials because they will realize they are not completely powerless.
Here are some tips you can share with students to help empower them to take control over their education:
- Give students tips on avoiding procrastination
- Share resources on balancing life and work
- Give students tools on how to achieve better time management
- Help students become intentional about their leaning. You can provide them with assessments that can help them better understand how they learn. (Check out the Learning Connections Inventory (LCI) through Let Me learn).
- Share school / university resources.
- Educate students on the importance of, and how to, build support systems and strong networks.
- Teach students how to create SMART goals.
- Encourage students to take an honest look at the people and activities in their lives. Then have them personally assess what / who might be best to cut versus keep in order to achieve those SMART goals.
- Teach Communication Skills
It takes courage to do something when you are scared or to press on in the event of pain and sadness. It is important to let students know that they are valuable and can use their voice to make a difference. By teaching students how to speak up, you empower them to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others- and that often takes a lot of courage. In today's society, the next generation in line must be heard. They are facing extreme levels of violence and rage, but the power of speech can change that and create a positive movement. As a professor, you can also educate your students on how to speak up on less socially involved issues, but still critical aspects of a student's life; for example, how to speak up for an advancement or say no to outside tasks that don't fit their goals.
Here are some ways you can help students improve their communication:
- Educate students on the importance of various communication styles (formal, informal, verbal, non verbal).
- Provide tips on how to use social media- alongside pros and cons.
- Provide guidance on how to listen and the value of patience.
- Educate students on how certain words can be perceived as having self-doubt. (For example, watching how often a student leads with "I think" or "I feel" in negotiating or business).
- Model being respectful and discuss the importance of having an open mind.
- Provide feedback on how to be clear and concise, yet substantially answer a question.
- Share resources, such as books, articles and videos on how to communicate with confidence.
By boosting students' levels of courage, we are helping them to persevere through the trials and tribulations that life throw at them while they are taking a leap of faith into bettering their lives. As we boost courage, we also instill confidence. Courage and confidence are two key ingredients into helping our students reach their goals, obtain dreams and earn their degree. It is in these amazing students and their achievements that we are fortunate enough as professors to leave a bit of our legacy, behind.