Help Them Build Their Self-Efficacy #30GoalsEdu

Goal 23: Help Them Build Their Self-Efficacy of The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators! Click the link to find out more about the 30 Goals Challenge for Educators!

“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” ~ Hanoch McCarty

Many of our students when they look in a mirror, only see the all the wrong things about them. They think they cannot chase after their dreams, interests, or passions because they do not have confidence in themselves. In our classes, they think they are not smart enough to learn the subject. Often, they have negative voices in their heads telling them they are slow readers, bad at math, not as smart as another student, can’t learn fast enough, and more. This is all part of their self-efficacy, which the famous learning theorist, Bandura defined as the belief in one’s capabilities to complete tasks and reach goals (1994). Many of our students fail to achieve what they can in our classes, because they do not believe in themselves.

So how do we begin to help our students build confidence in themselves so they can be successful learners?

A  2012 study found that students will discard negative thoughts by writing them down on paper, then throwing them away. I think this is such a great activity to have students do. Here’s what you do:

  • Give students several slips of paper.
  • Instruct them to write down statements of why they believe they cannot be successful in your class. You can give them statements or examples to help them along, such as “I think I am too lazy to study for this class” or “I don’t think I am smart enough.”
  • Make sure you let them know that no one will see what they write and this is for their eyes only. It may help to tell them in the beginning that they will be tearing up these statements so they should be very honest. You may even read to them about the study as a way of introducing this activity.
  • Also, you can allow them to write down other negative thoughts about themselves, such as “I feel I am too fat” or  “I feel I will never amount to anything”.
  • You might even share with them negative thoughts you had when you were their age. Students like hearing we empathize with them and share their experiences.
  • Then make a big show of discarding these negative thoughts. Have students rip these papers and throw them in the wastebaskets or crumple it into a ball and toss it in the trashcan.
  • Be the example and go first and let them see you throw away your negative thoughts with some gusto!
The study also found that students who wrote down positive thoughts about themselves and carried these thoughts with them. For the next part of the activity:
  • Give students several slips of paper.
  • Instruct them to write down positive statements about their abilities. They can complete this statement, “I believe I am smart enough to…” and write action statements.
  • Instruct them to carry these statements around with them throughout the year in either a purse or wallet or similar item. They will also need to read them from time to time.
  • Be the example and read to them some of your positive statements.

Other Resources

Short-term- Have your students participate in this task or another that helps build their self-efficacy.

Long-term- Through out the year incorporate activities that build your students’ belief in themselves.

Important News


Have your students participate in this task or another that helps build their self-efficacy.

Did you reflect on this goal? Please leave a comment that you accomplished this goal by either posting your own video reflection on Youtube, using the hashtag #30GoalsEdu, posting on the 30 Goals Facebook group, adding a post to the GooglePlus page, or adding a comment below!

Be inspired with these Inspirational songs, videos, quotes, and more on my Pinterest board, Inspiration for World Changers!

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, author, and international speaker. She is the host of American TESOL’s Free Friday Webinars and the Social Media Community Manager for The Consultants-E. She has co-founded and organized the acclaimed educational projects, Edchat, ELTChat, The Reform Symposium E-Conference and the ELTON nominated Virtual Round Table language and technology conference. Her prolific presence in the educator community through social media has been recognized by several notable entities, such as The New York Times, UNESCO Bangkok, Edweek, Converge Magazine, the United Federation of Teachers, the 140 Conference, Mashable, English Central,, and T/H/E JOURNAL. Her education blog, Teacher Reboot Camp, is ranked as one of the top 10 language teaching and technology blogs and the 50 best blogs for education leaders. In 2012 find her book, The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators published by Eye on Education and participate with over 7000 educators worldwide in this online professional development course that helps educators develop Personal Learning Networks and accomplish social media and teaching goals. Find her on Twitter, @ShellTerrell. Shelly has taught English language learners at various levels since 1998 in the US, Greece, and in Germany. She currently presents and hosts workshops on integrating technology effectively with young learners and adults. Shelly holds an Honours BA in English and a minor in Communication with a specialization in Electronic Media from the University of Texas in San Antonio and an Honours MA in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix.

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