Confidence-Centered Curriculum: First Steps

Why a Confidence-Centered Curriculum is Essential

What are our students going to need to be successful in their lives?

  • Reading, writing, and arithmetic…sure
  • 21st century technology skills…yup

However, I would argue that the most important quality we can develop in our students is confidence.


  • Confidence to intelligently share their ideas
  • Confidence to express what they have learned
  • Confidence to question what they do not understand
  • Confidence to boldly state what they believe

At any age, in every classroom, students need to be challenged to do more than just quietly sit and carefully listen. Students need to be expected to confidently share their thoughts, discuss differing opinions, and ask questions for deeper understanding.

Developing a Confidence-Centered Curriculum challenges educators to expect more from their students. All teachers work hard to build their students content knowledge. Equally as important, is the need to build students' ability to share this knowledge and express their understanding with confidence.


First…Look at Yourself!

I can’t tell you how many parents of my Drama students tell me that they could never perform the way their kids perform on stage. My response is always the same…”You could if you were given the skills to do so!” I am even more surprised when teachers express the same fear. Come on, don’t we stand up and “perform” in front of our classes every day? My colleagues say that it is different, and I couldn’t agree more. Teenagers are way more judgmental than any audience I have ever performed for. When implementing public-speaking skills into your classroom, take a moment to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings about being up in front of an audience. I encourage you to not avoid offering performance opportunities to students, just because you have a fear of being in front of an audience. I’m not a big reader, however, I know the importance of reading for my students and therefore offer opportunities in my class. How will encouraging public-speaking skills in your classroom help your students now and in the future?


All the World’s A Stage…or something like that!

I know, you’re not an acting teacher and your students are most likely not going to be star celebrities. Developing confidence through public-speaking is not the same as a reality television show, trying to discover the next big thing. Whether your students want to be doctors, lawyers, business people, cashiers at McDonald’s or even teachers, performance and presentation skills are the key to success.  How far would Steve Jobs or Bill Gates have gone if they could not have expressed their brilliance with confidence. We see every election season the tragic result of candidates’ inability to speak with intelligence and confidence. And don’t get me started on professional athletes’ post-game interviews. OK…maybe not having performance skills won’t keep your students from being famous. They will, however, keep your students from getting ripped apart in the media for sounding dumb or saying the wrong thing. It might help them get noticed in their jobs. It will help  them speak up and have their voices heard. It will help them connect with others and will allow them the opportunity to be leaders. Confidence matters!


Safe and Supportive

OK, here my disclaimer! A lot of the techniques used in a Confidence-Centered Curriculum will seem difficult for the students. I often hear, “My students would NEVER do that.” To be honest, there may be some truth to that claim at the start of the year. Public-speaking is a risk. Students need to feel safe and supported by their teacher and their classmates, if they are going to take this risk. Taking some time at the start of the school year for a few team-building exercises and group games will go a long way in building the trust needed for confident pubilc-speaking to occur. Clear expectations and consequences need to be set and carried out. Finally, have faith! In all my years working with the most excited of little kids to the most skeptical of adults, everyone performs. When offered praise for success and support in failure, everyone grows in both skill and confidence.


Shy Is Not A Good Thing

This will be quick and easy. There is a difference between being introverted and being shy. Yes, you will have introverts, and there is nothing wrong with how they process and express their learning. However, do not confuse it with being shy. Shy people “shy away” from risk, challenges, the unknown, and opportunities that may help them grow. We expect our extraverted students to learn to sit quietly, reflect thoughtfully, and focus carefully. We need to challenge our introverts to speak up and not settle for being lost in the crowd.


Feel Their Pain…But Make Them Do It Anyway

Empathy is your friend. You know what they’re going through, you have to get up in front of an “audience” every day and “perform.” Don’t say it’s easy, because it's not for everyone. Don’t claim that it’s really tough, because the timid will not want to try. Focusing on building confidence is just something you are going to do because it is needed, period. Everyone can do it. Not everyone will like it. Some will succeed right away. Others will struggle for a while. But it will benefit everyone who tries their hardest and puts forth their best effort. We don’t apologize for making students read or write…don’t apologize for striving to build their confidence.


Give Them Something That Lasts

I learned a lot in school. Though now, I would struggle to tell you very many facts about the Revolutionary War. Helping high school students with their Pre-Cal homework is definitely not something I can do anymore. And sad to say, after four years of French in high school, I can only say hello. C'est vrai!  Most teachers understand that the content the students are learning won't last. What will last is the way the students learn, changes to how they think and process learning, and a broadening of their understanding. Confidence is an important tool for these students' educational toolbox. Equipping them with public-speaking and presentation skills will serve them well throughout their schooling and beyond. Take the first steps to unlocking the power of a Confidence-Centered Curriculum.

Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ready to enhance your students' public-speaking skills in simple, but powerful ways? Click to here learn about some everyday expectations of a Confidence-Centered Curriculum!