Have you ever worked with a child that lacked self-confidence? Sometimes it feels like this is the number one factor that online tutors students struggle with, building authentic confidence in children. These kids have failed so many times that they just don’t believe in themselves in certain areas.
I know that I see this often with my reading students. They have been in so many interventions and taken out of their regular classes that they feel dumb. As tutors, this breaks our heart. We can see their potentials and want to bring them out in an authentic manner.
I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Dr. Spence Taintor, the author of Building Authentic Confidence in Children. During our book study with the Ultimate Support Group for Online Tutors Members-only calls we have had the opportunity to dive deeply into this book and reflect on how it impacts our online tutoring businesses.
During the interview, Dr. Taintor explained the difference between artificial confidence and authentic confidence. Artificial confidence is giving everybody a trophy and saying that just for participating in something that you have achieved something. Or perhaps in our case as online tutors giving a compliment that is too generic like “good job” and not using terms that explain why they did a great job.
“Authentic confidence is seeing failure as an opportunity and not a black mark on their record,” says Taintor. When kids can see failure in this light, it helps to develop the child’s resilience.
Taintor suggested that one way to build this confidence is through, “The power of silence.” He suggests that you give ample time up to 14 seconds for kids to give a response. This allows them to think through their answer vs. feeling like they are being rushed through content.
Top 6 Classroom issues with building Authentic Confidence
Schools all over the nation are facing many factors that are decreasing kids confidence. The first one is cramming as many kids into classrooms as we can. In fact, when I was in the classroom as a first-year teacher I had 32 3rd graders. There were no windows in the classroom, and we had to get creative on how to get their desks and chairs to fit. There was very little walking space, and as a first-year teacher, it was difficult meeting all of the needs of the kids that I had.
Another struggle in the school system is that according to Taintor, “Teachers do not have the trust of the parents or the administration to make educational decisions for their classroom.” Teachers are told what curriculum to teach when to teach it, and how much time should be spent teaching it. Administrators and other staff members are then assigned to make sure that all of these things are in place and if they are not, the teacher will be written up and eventually let go. This, in turn, leaves teaching staff with a decreased sense of confidence. If the people that are supposed to build up confidence in our children don’t have it, then how can we expect them to give it to our children.
Another issue that has popped up lately due to RTI (response to intervention) is the fact that teachers are, “Teaching to the bottom third,” says Taintor. He also said that “Teachers are using the top third to help the bottom third. The top third have had to become autonomous learners.” If the top third aren’t learning on their own time they are not getting an additional education from the school. This is because the goal of most school systems is to close the gap between the slower learners and the faster learners. Many schools have discarded their funding for their gifted and talented programs and reallocated it to fund RTI initiatives.
Dr. Taintor mentions that technology is being used to replace instruction in some cases instead of supplement it. While one can use technology to increase students abilities and mastering concepts, technology can never replace a great teacher.
Parental Issues with Building Authentic Confidence
While teachers are dealing with many of these issues in the classroom, parents themselves are also dealing with issues that they may not even see as problems.
We have a new kind of parent around us that Dr. Taintor refers to as, “The lawnmower parent.” These parents like to blaze through everything for their child and make everything easy. Here are some examples of ways that parents are making things easy for their child.
- Getting involved in arguments that their child is having. Instead of allowing their child take on confrontation, the parent will talk to the other parent or administrator to try to smooth things over.
- If something is hard, parents say, “Stop doing it.”
- Parents are choosing the teachers that their child will have instead of allowing them to learn how to deal with different personalities and teaching styles.
- Parents are waking their kids up every morning instead of teaching them how to use an alarm clock. As a direct result, Dr. Taintor mentions in his book that kids are struggling when they go off to college because they don’t know how to use an alarm clock. They don’t show up to class or are frequently late.
As parents, we need to stop blazing the easy path for our children and put responsibilities on them. If they get to experience failure and consequences at an early stage, then they won’t have to face bigger consequences later on in life because they have already mastered these hard life lessons.
What companies are looking for in employees
At the end of the day, it is important to note that our kids need to begin learning these life skills early on so that they can become successful adults. In the work world, employees are looking for children that have soft skills. These soft skills include.
- Teamwork and Collaboration
- Problem Solving
- Critical Observation
- Conflict Resolution
Also, they will need to, “Think outside of the box and not be afraid to take risks,” adds Taintor. If kids are not allowed to practice these soft skills in their childhood, then it could affect them as they move on in their careers.
How can we Build Authentic Confidence in Children
What I love about Dr. Taintor’s book Building Authentic Confidence in Children is that he doesn’t just look at the current problems and drop us off there. He has some tangible solutions that we can honestly implement to create the adults of tomorrow.
First, we need to begin challenging students more in sessions vs. making sure they master a certain skill. We need to create stimulating and engaging tutoring situation where teachers know when to intervene and provide encouragement. We need to provide situations where kids can take risks and take initiative. Also, kids need to understand the real-world applications of the skills that they are learning.
Dr. Taintor doesn’t just stick to ways that we can build authentic confidence in the classroom, but he also tackles what it looks like outside of the classroom. For example, he mentions that kids can build authentic confidence by being involved in extracurricular activities. From his book, Taintor points out, that Time magazine reported that kids who played an instrument not only increased their confidence, but also their academic achievement.
Another way to develop authentic confidence is by being involved in sports. Kids learn time management skills, how to take risks to make a score, and how to push themselves harder than they would if they were just hanging out at home. As tutors, we need to be empathetic to those involved in sports and, while it can be annoying with schedule changes, remember that their sports are important to building the whole child and developing their confidence.
Lastly, Taintor mentions that we need to get our kids involved in volunteering in the community. By volunteering, kids learn social compassion and how to care about social problems that they may not necessarily be affected by. They think beyond themselves.
More About Dr. Spence Taintor
Dr. Spence Taintor has dedicated his life to the betterment of education and those who experience it. A graduate of University of Miami, Miami FL and Capella University in Minneapolis, his diverse experiences in education, professional leadership, corporate business, and marketing offered him a unique and in-depth perspective of how learning and self-worth affected individuals on a daily basis in many different parts of the United States. Before Education, Dr. Taintor was C.O.O. of Exclusive Cruises and Resorts while also having spent time with other multinational companies such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Sandals Resorts International. Dr. Taintor volunteered as a soccer coach who began his love for teaching. In 2003, Dr. Taintor fully entered the world of the classroom as a chemistry teacher and later Dean of Students for Gulliver Schools in Pinecrest, Florida. He continued in education as a Headmaster at several institutions before becoming Head of School at Brookfield Academy in Brookfield, Wisconsin. He resides with his wife and two children in the greater Milwaukee area.