How to Make College Students More Courageous

As educators, we know that one of the best qualities that can help with success is confidence. Self-doubt can kill dreams and a lack of belief in yourself can stop anyone from achieving a goal and becoming successful. However, confidence is often something we have or need at any given time. We need confidence, even for the normal day-to-day things we do. On the other hand, sometimes, we need courage to get through a situation. Gentility pushes through when things are difficult or frightening. For example, it might take confidence to complete the final exam, but it takes courage to stop a degree program when it jeopardizes funding, reduces work-life balance, and all your support systems against you want to reach this goal.

As educators, we see many students every year who need to build their courage. They need our help and guidance on how to be brave in times of fear or anxiety. Students face many life events throughout their four plus years with us, and to help them achieve their degree goal, we must also provide mentorship on how to be brave.

Here are 3 ways you can lead students to be more courageous:

  1. Reduce Fears and Concerns

If you want your students to be more courageous, remember that your role as a teacher is to teach, guide, model and inspire, not to show students how difficult “the real world is.” Learning new content and balancing education with life is already difficult enough, there is no need to be scared on top of this. As an added bonus, as you reduce fears and worries, and students push through, they gain confidence.

To reduce fears and anxieties in your students, there are several things you can do, here are some tips:

  • Set course expectations in advance.
  • Connecting students to useful resources.
  • Give them suggestions on what to do if they encounter technology problems.
  • Enter your contact information and answer emails / calls in less than 24 hours.
  • Give some freedom if a student had a major life event during a given week.
  • Humanize yourself. You can do this by sharing a little about who you are, making videos in the course room, using humor, building relationships.
  • Do not give negative feedback in the open forum. Use personal email feedback or a grade book.
  • Give feedback on assignments and discussion questions. This helps the student know what they have done well with and where they can improve. No feedback leaves students in the dark about what they can improve on and how.

  1. Encourage students to focus on what they can control

In a classroom, you are the authority. Students may feel threatened at times or have limited power. They may not like the content, don’t understand it, or have personal difficulties trying to manage their education as well. As a teacher, if you want to increase your student’s courage, help students focus on what is in their control. This will help students persevere in the face of adversity or trials because they will realize that they are not powerless.

Here are some tips you can share with students to help empower them to take control of their education:

  • Give students tips on avoiding publishing
  • Share resources on work-life balance
  • Provide students with tools on how to better manage time
  • Help students become intentional about their weight. You can provide them with assessments that can help them better understand how they learn. (Check out the Learning Contact List (LCI) via Let Me learn).
  • Share school / university resources.
  • Educate students on the importance of, and how to, build strong support systems and networks.
  • Teach students how to create SMART goals.
  • Encourage students to look honestly at the people and activities in their lives. Then ask them personally to assess what / who might be best to cut against keeping it in order to achieve those SMART goals.

  1. Learn Communication Skills

It takes courage to do something when you are scared or to press on if there is pain and sadness. It is important to let students know that they are valuable and can use their voice to make a difference. By teaching students how to speak up, you empower them to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others – and that often takes a lot of courage. In today’s society, the next generation must be heard in line. They face extreme levels of violence and rage, but the power of speech can change that and create a positive movement. As a teacher, you can also teach your students how to speak out on less social, but still critical, aspects of student life; for example, how to speak up for a promotion or say no to outside tasks that don’t fit their goals.

Here are some ways you can help students improve their communication:

  • Educate students on the importance of various communication styles (formal, informal, verbal, non-verbal).
  • Give tips on how to use social media – alongside pros and cons.
  • Please give guidance on how to listen and the value of patience.
  • Educate students on how some words can be considered to have self-doubt. (For example, watching how often a student leads with “I believe” or “I feel” when discussing or business).
  • Model being respectful and discuss the importance of having an open mind.
  • Give feedback on how to be clear and concise, but still answer a question significantly.
  • Share resources, such as books, articles and videos on how to communicate confidently.

By boosting students’ levels of courage, we help them persevere through the trials and tribulations that life throws at them as they take a leap of faith to improve their lives. As we promote courage, we also build confidence. Courage and confidence are two key ingredients to help our students reach their goals, achieve dreams and achieve their degrees. It is in these incredible students and their achievements that we are fortunate enough as teachers to leave a little bit of our legacy, left behind.

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