Confidence is key in all aspects of our lives, especially when it comes to learning. Teachers and parents alike, are continually looking for ways in which to promote children’s confidence. This can be supported by aiding children in developing the skill of self-reflectiveness. Reflectiveness can increase a child’s independence through the means of self-review. Developing self-assessment skills will allow them to see whether what they are doing is effective in achieving their learning goals. An example of this is when children are completing a writing task; a reflective exercise is to offer time for follow up at the end of a lesson and giving time to address questions such as ‘What did you learn today?’, ‘What did you find challenging?’,’ What did you do to overcome the challenge?’ This type of task directly increases independence as it allows a child to become more aware of their own strengths and weaknesses as well as what they can do to improve, rather than being reliant on the ideas of others. This, in turn, develops internal confidence and enhances motivation enabling a pupil to work with confidence the next time that they are faced with a challenge. Reflection propels a learner to a new level of independence in which they can attack a new problem the next time they are faced with it, as well as learning how to discover a solution. These are the skills we need in every aspect of our learning journey.
There are many other factors which can prevent the development of reflectiveness. The Department for Education (2005) highlights that emotion can both help or distract a pupil’s focus of attention. If a child feels confident, they are more likely to be focused on their task, but if they are unsure, then they are more likely to be distracted. This could help to explain a child’s relationship with ‘self’, as if they have a limited concentration span and lack of concentration, they will display ‘off-task’ behaviour. Encouraging reflection by producing a ‘learning diary’ will help to boost a child’s confidence as they will see their journey of progress and this will give them a belief that they are able to do what is asked of them and, in turn, they will feel encouraged to spend more time ‘on task’.
Wheldall and Merrett (1990) found that in secondary school, students spend 80% of the time ‘off task’. However, they also found that it is not the nature of being ‘off task’ that is the issue, but rather the behaviour that occurs as a result. If a child has an increased resilience when they find themselves ‘off task’, they will be able to redirect themselves back onto the task as opposed to finding themselves adopting behaviours that are detrimental to their learning. Carol Dweck (2006) talks about ‘growth’ and ‘fixed’ mindset which links to resilience. Those with a fixed mindset are stuck in the tyranny of now, and they run from difficulty. However, those with a growth mindset believe in the power within, and ultimately learn to embrace the challenge. Dweck says that teachers should praise strategy, progress, level of focus and perseverance. Praise would give them greater confidence in their learning and allow them to become more focused on their work, engaged in their individual learning as they develop a greater belief in their ability.
Collaborative learning is an approach to learning which involves groups of students working together in order to complete a task. Working collaboratively promotes the learning behaviour: Reciprocity (the idea that we pay back what we receive from others). Collaborative learning promotes skills such as listening and empathy due to the fact that the learner needs to listen to others ideas and be understanding of them, even if they are different from their own ideas. Working collaboratively is a skill that will be needed throughout life.
Increased confidence will also help to strengthen the relationship that a child has with the curriculum in which they are learning. Children often say that they find school work ‘boring’, but in fact, this might just be that they are not fully engaged with it. By applying discussions to topics that have meaning and resonate with the children themselves and what they are interested in, children ultimately become engaged and grow in confidence within the subject they are learning.