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Self - Esteem, Praise, Encouragement - The Key to Student Success?

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Self - Esteem, Praise, Encouragement - The Key to Student Success? ........................................................................................................ Success in school life is thought by some, including some teachers; to depend on innate intelligence as measured by standard Intelligence Quotient (IQ) scores (Rosenthal & Rubin, 1978; Canfield, 1976). This, however, is often not the case and it has been found in some studies that student self esteem is more highly correlated with student success than is IQ (Canfield, 1976). This is the good news, as there is little that teachers can do to change IQ (Davenport, 1992; Wood, 1988; Binet & Simon, 1916). However, there is much that teachers can do to raise student self esteem, significantly increasing the probability that the student will be successful in school (Lawrence, 1996). Self-esteem (or self-regard), is an evaluative measure of our self-image, what Coopersmith (1967) terms: "a personal judgement of worthiness, that is expressed in the attitudes the individual holds towards himself". Or that Websters Dictionary (1986) refers to as 'Belief in oneself'. It is also a student's awareness that he or she is a person of worth or value simply because he is a human being. Self - esteem is recognising that because one is treated with respect by others, one is worthy of respect. Finally self esteem is also a sense of self-confidence resulting from successful completion of attempted tasks (Lawrence, 1996). Already within schools there are those who are laying the foundations for reform and restructure that will ensure that every student has the opportunity to succeed during school as they grow in self worth. The teacher of any student is in a powerful position to influence the self - esteem of their students, through the establishment of a caring relationship and the use of systematic activities (Adalsteinsdottir, 2004; Lawrence 1996) This development is not without controversy though. In a commentary in US News & World Report (April 1990) ...read more.


Self-esteem can also be defined as the belief that a person is accepted, connected, unique, powerful, and capable (McFarla, 1988). Self-esteem issues take on a particular significance for students with learning or attention problems because self-assessment of this concept requires the ability to evaluate and compare (Oregon Resiliency Project, 2003). These are two skills that are extraordinarily challenging for students with special needs. Therefore, these children are often unable to accurately measure or assess their own self-esteem (Mather & Goldstein, 2001). Because self-esteem is a feeling, not a skill, it can only be measured by observing the way in which a person acts or behaves. Teachers and parents must become keen and insightful observers of children in order to assess their self-esteem and we would do well to be mindful of the erudite words of the Plowden Report (1967): 'The best preparation for being a happy and useful adult is to live fully as a child'. Within the provision we have found that students with high self-esteem will: * Feel capable of influencing another's opinions or behaviours in a positive way. * Be able to communicate feelings and emotions in a variety of situations. * Approach new situations in a positive and confident manner. * Exhibit a high level of frustration tolerance. * Accept responsibility. * Keep situations (positive and negative) in proper perspective. * Communicate positive feelings about themselves. * Possess an internal locus of control (belief that whatever happens to them is the result of their own behaviour and actions). Conversely, students with low self-esteem will: * Consistently communicate self-derogatory statements. * Exhibit learned helplessness (Seligman, 1973) * Not volunteer. * Practice perfectionism. * Be overly dependent. * Demonstrate an excessive need for acceptance: a great desire to please authority figures. * Have difficulty making decisions. * Exhibit low frustration tolerance. * Become easily defensive * Have little faith in their judgment and be highly vulnerable to peer pressure. ...read more.


school environment and as such could be considered as an intervention, although sometimes time consuming, that is worthy of consideration Two conclusions can be drawn about self-esteem. First, that as human beings there are no neutral interactions with other human beings. Every interaction with another individual affects self-esteem either positively or negatively (Bowlby, 1969). Therefore educators must be fully conscious of the power they have to positively or negatively impact upon students' self-esteem. Inadvertent or thoughtless actions may lower a student's perception of himself. And this is an area over which those in education have immediate and total control. Secondly, it appears that there must be significant restructuring of the educational system in order to allow and encourage the kind of school environment and personal interactions previously described. Anything else will leave far too many students far short of achieving their full potential. The reality exists that many times practices and policies are not determined by those on the front lines. However, to the extent possible in individual classrooms the following recommendations can have a positive effect on student self-esteem. * Greet each student by name and use names frequently. Don't let a student feel as if he or she is invisible. * Individualise, as much as possible, lesson plans on the basis of student goals, aptitudes, interests, abilities, learning styles and speeds. * Use mistakes and failures as positive learning experiences. * Use marks as demonstrations of mastery, not to separate or categorise students. * Assign final marks only upon completion. * Group students heterogeneously. Use cooperative and collaborative learning. * Create a sense of cohesiveness and belonging for each group of students. * Encourage democracy in the classroom and in the school. Encourage student participation. In this way they learn the system works. * Make every effort to raise student self-esteem each day. * Listen to students. It is often what they don't say that is important. * Set standards of respect and dignity in the classroom by acknowledging each student's individuality. ...read more.

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