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AIBU to ask your advice about improving my assertiveness and 'presence' please?

(18 Posts)
RangeTesKopeks Fri 17-Jun-16 22:27:44

Hi everyone smile

Could I please ask for your advice on how I could be more assertive and have more 'presence' please? I'd really appreciate any tips you might have, as it's always really useful to find out other opinions smile

The backstory behind this is that on Wednesday, I had an interview for a School Direct teacher training placement. (Just for anyone who doesn't know about School Direct, it's a scheme where trainee teachers study for a PGCE at the same time as working full-time in a school from the first day of their training year.)

The interview day that I had consisted of a panel interview and a lesson that I had to plan and teach after being given a specific topic beforehand.

The feedback from the day was that my interview was strong. However, I had to teach a lesson (English lesson) to a Year 8 class as part of the day, and this lesson was observed by a senior teacher

I had a feedback session with this teacher after the lesson that I taught, where I was asked to comment on how I felt the lesson went before she gave me her own feedback.

One of the comments that the teacher made was that he felt that I lacked 'presence' in the lesson in terms of my interaction and behaviour with the pupils. I'm not disputing this, as I felt that his comment (and the other feedback that he gave me) was fair and well justified.

I have also been told by other people in the past (family and friends) that I don't always come across as assertive and confident, which I understand is an important quality in teaching.

I'm petite (which may seem irrelevant, but I don't think it helps in terms of my 'presence', although I realise that there is notan awful lot I can do about it! wink) i am normally quietly-spoken, and do often apologise more than I should (think clichéd British apologetic behaviour, but perhaps more pronounced! grin)

I have tried to tone down the (often unnecessary!!) apologising, which I feel has helped.

However, I would appreciate more tips and ideas on how I could go about improving my confidence and assertiveness please! smile

If you have any experience of this in a teaching context as well, your comments would be particularly welcome!!

Thank you all so much! smile

Numberoneisgone Fri 17-Jun-16 22:31:58

I think presence in teaching is often about having confidence in what you are teaching. I think having presence in a class where you do not know the students is more difficult than ones you are familiar with but the usual things good eye contact, good engagement via to and fro conversations, the easiest way to do this is get kids to wear name badges and ask them direct questions, and as much active learning as you can get into the session because that again demands engagement.

Numberoneisgone Fri 17-Jun-16 22:32:54

Sorry you can tell from my rubbish sentence formation that I do not teach English grin

srslylikeomg Fri 17-Jun-16 22:35:17

Two things:
Fake it til you make it is good advice.
But really 'presence' is something you either have or do not have. It can't be taught. It's innate. However, the confidence that comes with wisdom and subject knowledge can give presence. So can pushing other skills: we can't all be Richard Branson. You say you are softly spoken? Next time, announce that! Don't try to be Brian Blessed if that's not you, own who you are and celebrate that: "I'm not a shouter, so you'll have to listen carefully to me, but I'm worth listening to". If you know your stuff and are passionate that will shine through and is worth more than showmanship.

MajesticWhine Fri 17-Jun-16 22:43:57

You could take a look at this free downloadable cbt course about assertiveness.

positivity123 Fri 17-Jun-16 22:46:44

www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en
Watch this.

NutellaLawson Fri 17-Jun-16 22:52:26

Google 'power poses'. These have been shown to promote self confidence and improve women's negotiating skills and be more assertive.
Open stances, like wonder woman. Do them beforehand and try more subtle ones out while teaching.

Girls are socialised to adopt 'closed poses' from a young age. Through illustrations in picture books for example. Looking demure, polite. Feet close together. Arms close to the body. But it is open poses that encourage you to feel bold.
Nursery age children, shown wooden stick figures in various open and closed poses, deemed open poses to be boys and closed ones to be girls.

So stands like wonderwoman in the loos before the lesson. Occupy the space around your body (not just where you are but the air around you too). This may need practice and will feel weird but it's what confident people do as a matter if habit.

TwllBach Fri 17-Jun-16 22:58:27

I'm a very reserved, quiet, apologetic introvert in my 'real' life but as a teacher have been told that I'm a 'natural' and have a good assertive 'presence' and this is all down to the above advice of faking it till you make it. Head up, shoulders back and don't avoid eye contact. For what it's worth, I'm quietly spoken too but that doesn't make me any less in charge... A lot of the time the teachers I've seen with little control are the brash shouty ones grin

QueenofLouisiana Fri 17-Jun-16 23:40:25

I walk in to each class believing that I can get them to stop and listen, I'm not in the least convinced of that- but my kids don't know that!

Have a clear signal that tells kids you are about to say something- use it! I count from 5, some ring bells....

Your the room, don't stay in one place, comment on kids doing theorist thing- loud enough to remind the others what you want. Make eye contact, smile and be interested in what they say.

I rarely speak loudly in class- no louder than I need to. I can stop a playground full of children if I need to, the children know that so I hardly ever need to! I think a lot of presence is just a combination of acting and nag egging your yen personality. I'm not really like Mrs Me- I'm much more shy and worried about people looking st me!

QueenofLouisiana Fri 17-Jun-16 23:41:29

Comment on kids doing the right thing! Sorry, updating data tonight- going a bit cross-eyed.

amarmai Fri 17-Jun-16 23:48:38

Do not do

amarmai Fri 17-Jun-16 23:55:39

Do not doubt that you are in charge. When you lose their attention ,be quiet and catch the eye of a more cooperative student and engage him/her as quickly as possible.Move round the classroom and scatter praise words and write them in a notebook as you continue around. Tell them you believe in their abilities in as many ways as you can.

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 18-Jun-16 00:03:29

Record yourself and watch/listen to it. That way you'll be able to identify the first few things to work on. Perhaps you could stand differently, or maybe you overuse certain words. Whatever, the best way of changing how you present is to see/hear how you present.

It does make you cringe, but it's really worthwhile.smile

RunRabbitRunRabbit Sat 18-Jun-16 00:12:55

Definitely get a video of you teaching a class. I expect you'll instantly see what you need to change.

RangeTesKopeks Sat 18-Jun-16 00:17:34

Wow thank you so much everyone! Your advice has been so useful so far smile

WardrobeMalfunction Sat 18-Jun-16 00:26:05

Have you come across Bill Rogers yet in your studies? He's widely regarded as the last word in effective, assertive classroom management.

WardrobeMalfunction Sat 18-Jun-16 00:26:11

Have you come across Bill Rogers yet in your studies? He's widely regarded as the last word in effective, assertive classroom management.

WardrobeMalfunction Sat 18-Jun-16 00:42:18

Apologies for the double posting.

From my own experience, day 1, tell them where they may sit. Establish yourself as the boss of the class. Then it's less about physical presence and volume and more about management.

Begin every lesson with a calming activity, so call your register, or ask them to quickly write down 3 things they learned in the previous lesson. The activity is not as important as getting straight into work-nips a lot of problems in the bud.

Never have dead time, so if you're waiting for a projector to warm up or a laptop to boot or whatever, they should be doing something active.

A soft voice and a calm demeanour are actually valuable tools. If you raise your voice, they'll raise theirs in competition, so speak loudly enough to be heard but no louder.

Don't apologise. If a child spots an error you make, say "You're quite right, I misspelled that word/left out the decimal point/etc. Good to see you're paying attention" but avoid saying sorry.

For regaining attention, explain that when you need quiet attention (at the end of, eg, group discussion) you'll raise your hand. When they notice your hand up, they must raise theirs. They'll nudge each other into silence and you won't have had to raise your voice over the din.

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