The Early Bird Gets the Worm – Boosting your Pupils’ Confidence from the Get-Go

Here at MyTutor we work with schools up and down the country, supporting teachers by giving their pupils personalised one-to-one tuition. Students on our programmes improve by an average of a whole grade over 12 weeks. We’re partnering with more schools than ever (400 and counting!) to help teachers raise results. While everyone’s laser-focused on raising results, there’s something else that deserves our attention and could be the key to better grades in the first place. Confidence.

As a teacher, you know intuitively that a more confident pupil is more likely to do well academically. Those who feel comfortable asking questions and exploring ideas will naturally get a better understanding of their subjects. Research has shown that the higher pupils rate their academic ability, the better they perform in class and in exams. What’s more, schools we’ve partnered with say that the sweet spot for boosting kids’ confidence is the first half of the Autumn term – before their self-esteem takes any knocks in class. Start off on a high note and they’ll keep riding on that all the way through to exams.

That puts the focus on getting off to the strongest start possible, for every pupil. With the new term just a couple of weeks away, now’s the best time to get some confidence-boosting strategies in place. With an effective intervention this term, you’ll notice the difference by Christmas and your students will be on track for some great results next Summer.

1. Get the parents on-side

It’s well-known that parents’ involvement in their child’s education affects their confidence and therefore how they do at school. If mum and dad have their finger on the pulse with homework, deadlines and exam goals, your pupil knows that they care and feels supported in their learning. Without strong parent-school engagement though, it can be an uphill battle getting the pupil on board with their own academic progress. Here are some key ways you can keep up the contact with your pupils’ parents from day one of the Autumn term:

  • Online – Regular contact with emails, WhatsApp, or a free app like Firefly, designed especially for this purpose.
  • In-person – Embrace traditional points of contact like termly reports, PTA meetings, parent evenings and school social events. It’s here that you can really connect with parents and springboard off that for the rest of the term. Whenever you can, regular updates on how they’re doing and what’s been asked of them should help them echo your messages at home.

2. Set an example

Take steps to improve your confidence in your own teaching abilities and those of your colleagues. If you want to develop confidence in your pupils, you’ll have to lead by example! Show them that it’s OK to explore ideas, ask silly questions, get things wrong, and they’ll feel much more comfortable doing it themselves. A report from HandsOnScotland suggests that for schools, confidence-building strategies should start with teaching staff reflecting on their own confidence first. This is a good one to bear in mind personally, and to raise at department meetings so you can actively work together to boost each other’s self-worth.

3. Explore Mentorship

In a recent survey we ran with teachers in low-performing schools, 84% said students lacking confidence also don’t know what they want to do in life. As your pupils become teens, there’s also a noted confidence drop-off at this stage. With pressures like GCSEs and A Levels on the horizon, it’s common for kids to lose confidence that they had in childhood. An effective way to combat this is through mentorship – by giving kids relatable role models, they can more easily motivate themselves and picture success in the future.

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With MyTutor, pupils get an hour’s lesson each week (or more) with a dedicated one-to-one tutor. Because they’re all at university and have sat their own exams in the past few years, they make perfect role models for school kids. Being in their early- to mid-twenties, they’re less intimidating than more “grown-up” mentors, and they find it easier to strike up a rapport. The tutor reinforces classwork and gives the pupil a relationship with a friendly young person to look up to. We’ve seen great results too, with 80% of pupils saying that lessons with our tutors made them feel more confident.

If you’d like to talk to us about setting up MyTutor in your school, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to email Richard at richard@mytutor.co.uk so you can get the ball rolling.

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