Facing a tough class for the first time can present a challenge. There is no question that professional development and teaching practices are an important part of being confident as a teacher. At times, there are no easy answers.
“Professional development: teacher development and confidence” on the website onestopenglish.com suggests “try out new teaching practices, thus developing your teaching ability.”
There are more developmental strategies for tutors, teachers and professors. Things you can do to increase your confidence, include the following:
Assume and maintain control of your class.
Assuming control over your class immediately and maintaining it continually, will help to increase your confidence as a teacher, as well as make you appear to be more confident. You have the distinct advantage of being the person with authority.
What you teach them in terms of course content and your method of teaching is ultimately in your hands, not theirs. Your students need to pass your course; you do not.
Note that any course may intentionally weed out students, like a counseling course, where statistics is part of tough course content. Patience is essential in counseling. Taking a course in statistics can be frustrating. Those who cannot handle a tough course in statistics may not have the patience to become good counselors either.
Be well prepared with your course material.
You know more than your students do, though some may be familiar with the course content, at least in part. Having to confronting students with difficult course material can present a challenge to both you and them, so determine how you plan to go about it. Be flexible and allow room for any necessary changes.
You may not feel confident a tough course at first, but preparing your teaching sessions well ahead of time, so you know exactly what you are going to be teaching your students, will help you to feel more confident. Make certain that your class preparation includes their active participation.
Break the ice in your class by identifying yourself and having each student identify him or herself.
By identifying yourself to your students, they will begin to feel comfortable with you as their teacher. Your tough students may lack confidence and listening closely to what they say and how they say it, can give you some clues about the best teaching method to use for them. In other words, be a good listener.
Students who lack their own confidence or those who are not interested in the course material may become disruptive and act like tough students, if allowed to do so. Being honest with them about how you feel about teaching and the course material they need to learn is one strategy you can use with them.
Use course outlines that are clear and self-explanatory.
Course outlines help students clarify your expectations, as well as give them students a guideline to follow. Explain the course outline to them, so that they know when and how they are to be tested, what papers they have to prepare, when the final exams are, etc. Make certain that students have access to the correct textbooks, as well as additional course material. Provide extra resource material for those who may seek to excel.
Use different methods of teaching.
Since not every student learns the same way, using different models of teaching at various times, can prove to be beneficial. For example, some students will be visual learners; others are auditory learners. Using computer-based models, as well as other formal and informal models, or different kinds of research, adds an additional challenge to a tough class.
Be there for your students.
Showing care, concern and compassion for your students can help to ease tensions in a tough class. Do not allow bullying. Remember that even tough students need compassion. At times, there are students who may shine academically, even in a difficult class. Allowing them to experience mentoring or tutoring privileges can help ease your teaching burden, as well as increase your confidence. Even tough students can learn how to take positive leadership, if given proper direction.
As you teach, your learning curve will grow with your students. Remember that in conjunction with the development of your learning curve, your personal confidence will grow too. Tough classes and tough students will always be part of your teaching challenge.