From believing to achieving

It has been said that, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” “If you can believe it, you can be it.” This is true, with one caveat: believing it is the hardest part.

Student beliefs about their abilities can be influenced by many factors. For example:

1. Observing a peer’s success or failure greatly influences what a student believes they can do.

2. Past successes or failures influence a student’s confidence – in the subject, himself, and education in general.

Here are some ways in which we can bolster student beliefs – in the roles we inhabit every day as educators:

Tutor: Give a student a problem they can do before moving on to more challenging ones. This will grow their confidence. But also watch for those moments when their confidence is soaring – don’t be afraid to give them a challenge and really show them what they can do!

Teacher: Bring a student to the board who is proficient – but not too advanced. Students will identify with them. When such a student succeeds, they will believe they can, too.

Mentor: Help students to find paper topics in which you know they will be successful.

Coach: Genuine encouragement goes a long way: “Good work.” “That’s great – you used the new strategy!”

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