I believe that all students are created equal. Of course, some students may be more skilled at certain subjects than others, and everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some concepts are more difficult to grasp than others. But this doesn’t mean students are not intelligent enough to learn. Barring severe learning disabilities, every student has the ability to learn given hard work, patience, and perseverance. Unfortunately, there is one factor that seems to plague many students, keeping them from achieving their greatest learning potential: lack of confidence.
I do not know where this lack of confidence comes from, but I do know that it can only hinder, rather than help, a student who is struggling with a different concept. If a student is taking geometry, and he feels it is not his best subject, the very existence of that feeling will affect the way he approaches the material and concepts, the enthusiasm with which he attempts the problems, and his confidence in the answer. A pre-existing lack of confidence automatically triggers the stacking of blocks against the student’s chances of succeeding in the class.
Most severely, a lack of confidence can affect a student’s test-taking abilities. Sometimes, when learning concepts in a stress-free environment, I can see my students are able to understand all of the concepts covered in class. We work through practice problems, and they are able to correctly answer all of the questions in an appropriate amount of time. Nevertheless, their exam scores never reflect the ability inherent in them. They are stressed during the test, and it is this stress, not the student’s actual reasoning and learning ability, that is reflected in the grade.
Confidence in itself is one of the most important qualities one can develop in life. The development of confidence begins as a child and extends into the classroom. Students need to know they can achieve more than they ever imagined – I see this in my students, and my greatest hope is that, with time, they will be able to see this, too.
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