Nurturing positivity and confidence in our educators

Caring for those that lead from the front of the classroom is essential. We want our educators to feel confident, exhilarated, and positive about teaching. If students are going to be learning, they need to feel their teacher’s emotional investment about the topics they teach, the environment they are in, and the students they are educating. How effective can a teacher be if they are overwhelmed and stressed? So, what can we do to nurture positivity and confidence in our educators? 

When it comes to answering this, I turn to Dr. Marc Brackett, professor in Yale University Child Student Center and founding director of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. In his book, Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive (2019), he writes:

Our classroom research shows where there is an emotionally skilled teacher present, students disrupt less, focus more, and perform better academically. Our studies show that where there is an emotionally skilled principal, there are teachers who are less stressed and more satisfied.

There are some specific things you can do to nurture an environment with emotionally skilled teachers and leaders. Here are some tangible ideas you can put into practice to cultivate positivity and confidence.

Emotions

Focus on your emotional state. Hold on to your “why” and remind yourself what you love about teaching. These emotions will evoke positive thinking, confidence, and a higher sense of purpose. These positive emotions will directly affect the way you present yourself to your students. 

Gratitude

A growing body of research, including studies conducted by Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center, finds that expressing gratitude increases our happiness, optimism, and overall health. Our educators and school leaders can focus on recognizing one another and showing appreciation for tangible and intangible things. This will boost your own confidence and positivity, as well as pass it on to others.

Celebrate

It is essential to recognize our own achievements and those of our colleagues. Whether large or small, it is so impactful to celebrate accomplishments. Bringing educational staff together to celebrate is a beneficial approach to boosting morale, positivity, and confidence.

Optimism

Expressing optimism has a powerful effect on educators and school leaders. Sticking with a “can-do” attitude will create a positive environment and instill confidence in our educators. Optimism fuels problem-solving solutions, which keeps us feeling encouraged rather than discouraged. Positivity in our educational staff creates supportive work conditions where resilience and grit are sure to be exhibited.

Growth Mindset

You ask your students to show a growth mindset, so follow your advice and put those skills into your practice – it will surely translate into confidence in the classroom. Attributes for having a growth mindset as an educator include: 

  • Taking responsibility for improving your practices. 
  • Accepting feedback as opportunity for growth and learning.
  • Actively seeking new learning opportunities.
  • Holding students to high expectations.

HiMama Academy is here to support your growth mindset by providing on-demand training and professional development opportunities for early childhood educators. Some of the learning opportunities include: ‘How Children Think: Cognitive Development,’ ‘Play! How Children Learn,’ and ‘Theories of Child Development.’ These classes will support you in growing as a confident educator by improving teaching practices and learning new ideas.

Unity

Focus on creating unity amongst educators and school leaders. Bringing staff together and creating a place for connection, is an important way to foster positive relationships. When we feel a sense of belonging, we grow a greater sense of confidence.

Posture

Your posture indicates how confident you feel in your abilities as an educator. A strong stance, shoulders back, and eye contact are important in communicating your confidence as an educator. Your stance will support you in delivering instruction with confidence!

Self-care

Physical, mental, and emotional health are all important factors for nurturing positive and confident educators. Getting enough sleep, exercising, eating nutritious meals, and finding healthy ways to deal with stress, are areas of self-care that will support your health and well-being. You are taking such wonderful care of your students, it’s critical to also take great care of yourself.

I understand that being positive and optimistic takes a whole lot of effort, and as human beings, we are supposed to welcome all of our feelings. So, how do you balance nurturing positivity and confidence, while also allowing yourself to feel all of your feelings; even the tough ones? 

The answers are resiliency and emotional intelligence!

While educators and school leaders will face adversity and challenges, bouncing back and taking setbacks as learning opportunities is essential for positive and confident teaching.  Let’s revisit the earlier quote from Dr. Marc Brackett about being emotionally skilled educators and school leaders. In order to be emotionally skilled, educators will need to grow in their emotional intelligence (Salovey and Mayer 1990); the ability to understand, use, and manage your own and others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence promotes four key areas including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management (Dr. Daniel Goleman, revised: 2002). Each of these components highlight important skills for everyday life, in and out of the classroom, including emotional self-awareness, self-confidence, emotion regulation, demonstrating optimism and growth mindset, displaying empathy, building bonds with others, collaborating, and much, much more.  

It’s critical to understand the role emotions play in our school environment – we hope to lay a foundation of safety, trust, and positivity. For this, I ask you to check in with “why,” what are your goals as an educator? Take time to maintain relationships with students, families, and colleagues. Communicate, collaborate, take risks, share in celebrations, practice self-care, and support each other to reach your goals!

Marcelle Waldman

Marcelle Walman lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children. She is a certified K-5 elementary educator, having the incredible opportunity to teach some of our youngest learners in kindergarten and preschool, and also served as a preschool director. She is Youth Mental Health First Aid certified, has extensive coursework in psychology, and child development. She is also the owner and creator of FeelLinks; a small business strengthening children’s social-emotional connections and confidence. Marcelle is a parent and community educator - focused on children, brain development, behaviors, emotions, emotional intelligence, and overall emotional health and well-being. As an avid community volunteer, she has served on her school’s PTA board as vice president and president, contributed to many School District committees, currently sits on the Issaquah Schools Foundation programs committee, and volunteers for the Ladybug House, an end of life, hospice and palliative care program. Find out more at myfeellinks.com. Follow along @myfeellinks on Instagram and Facebook.

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