Monday, May 4, 2015

"If you improve a teacher's self-esteem, confidence, communication skills, or stress levels, you improve that teacher's overall effectiveness across the curriculum." Elaine MacDonald

I was fortunate to have the great opportunity to attend the National Publicity Summit in New York City this past weekend.  I was invited as the Producer and Co-Host of the Total Education Network (, and I was part of a symposium and forum of media moguls who answered questions and gave advice to people who have a product to offer: a book, an idea, a service, or an invention.  It was truly an exciting opportunity, and one that made me think about the importance of confidence in everyday life, and especially for teachers. .

After participating in the Q and A session, I was ushered to a booth where participants "pitched" their ideas and books to me.  Each person was given 2 1/2 minutes, and they were tapped on the shoulder by my assistant at the 2 minute mark, so each one knew that only 30 seconds remained to close his pitch.  I listened and took notes for 3 hours.  I will say that the situation was intense, but exhilarating, and the world is filled with creative people!.

Some of the participants had an obviously memorized and rehearsed speech, which I did not find to be very effective. To be honest, these carefully memorized pitches were painful to hear. Whether I should have or not, I stopped a few of the participants with the scripted speeches and said  "Since it's just me, why don't we just talk and you tell me about yourself and your idea?" You see, after 37 years in the classroom, coaching, and directing, I really believe the best "pitch" is simply this: to be yourself. I could actually see the relief on the faces of the people to whom I made this suggestion. The memorized pitch made the people look less confident; speaking with passion about their book or product was so much more effective. After reflecting on this experience, I confirmed in my thought process that it is never a good idea to pretend or say something rehearsed, because being yourself is so much more sincere, real, and rewarding,  I believe that for teachers, this statement is especially correct, and that  teachers must present themselves in a true and authentic way to be effective.   

I know that when I was in the classroom, as well as coaching and directing, two things were true for all of those hats I wore:  as the teacher, coach, or director, I had to be confident, and I had to be myself. In case you do not know this, students grades K-College can see right through those educators who lack confidence and present a "fake" self. It is very difficult to maintain a fake persona as well, especially if that persona attempts to be perfect and know everything! Teachers do not have to know every answer to every question!  In fact, a teachable moment presents itself when the teacher confidently says that he or she does not know the answer, and the class should find the answer together. The passion about finding the correct answer together will not be lost on your students. 

Confidence and authenticity are MUSTS for every classroom leader, and teachers must always remain true to themselves, be only themselves, and not present a false self to their students.  Teachers should show their students that they like and respect them because the students are their authentic selves, and the students will return that respect for the authentic teacher.  In this crazy world, where it is sometimes difficult to determine what is real and what is fake, students need and want a real relationship with their teachers, whom they perceive as leaders.  Teachers should present passion and confidence for their subjects, as well as in sharing the teaching and learning experience with the students.

Authenticity and confidence are two ingredients of great teachers. Practice both for greater success in your classroom. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.  

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