How trusting the abilities of your student can boost their confidence

In my 2 years of Fellowship at Azim Premji Foundation, I was lucky to observe the government education system, their policies and the attempts to implement at the school level through teachers.. The constructive skepticism to question the status quo was very much part of my unlearning. During my struggle to balance between the theory and practice, I tried to understand the learner and the learning process through classroom practices at a selected school, Upper Primary School at Rajyawas, Rajasmand district, in Rajasthan.

This incident happened not in Rajasmand my usual district but in Barmer in November-December, 2016. I was there to pitch in for Baal Mela, a Teachers’ Professional Development (TPD) initiative of the Foundation. I was to support English language team to design an activity and pilot it in Govt. Secondary School Arta, which is about 10-12 km from the Indo-Pak border.

We were needed to prepare two girls from the school who will facilitate the visitors to the mela on personal good habits. Sukhi and Shanti were chosen for the task by their teachers who considered them to be ‘fast learners’. Unlike our girl students at Rajasmand, we (me & my team member Teena) found them very shy & nervous. Tried to figure out the reason why both the girls are not that vocal. Teachers’ view is that a place like Arta, a border area will have far less population density. Therefore the chances of socializing, the readiness to break into a conversation would be lessor. That was an interesting input for us. After a series of ice-breaking exercises & playing some language games, by the end of the third day they were able to get a hang of it and were ready to take up the challenge. I was glad, my hard work is paying off and they are warming up for the D day.

Next, I happily invited their teachers what was supposed to be a trial run. But the girls disappointed me in front of her teachers. Teachers gave a sarcastic smile and commenting casually.

How you can change them in three days, sir what we are unable to do this for many years.

I was silent. We continued our practice that was peppered with positive feedback of how much they are putting in the efforts. Despite the so-called ‘no show’ in front of their teachers the previous day, we reposed the faith in them to the brim. Wished them good luck at the event.


When we met on the day of Mela, both the girls came to me and shook their hands and wished me good morning. Their confidence was seen to be believed. I was able to see a noticeable change, explaining their activities to children and teachers. It was their day! The same teachers who were sarcastic earlier, came to me and asked what did I do to them. I shared the secret that I did nothing but performed my job, spent time with them tried to make them feel comfortable and one thing I consistently shown them that I believed in their ability and always inspired them by saying, yes they can do it on that day. Every day.

It is not the population density per se that matters, but the belief in one’s ability to rise up & be counted.

Vivek Agrawal is a Fellow at Azim Premji Foundation, Rajsamand Rajasthan

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ramesh.satya77's picture

Dear Vivek,
Greetings from Satya!!
I sincerely appreciate your efforts and wish teachers ensure to see that the spirit sustains in these young girls . It is quite natural for students to become conscious in front of their own teachers while performing during such major events. A feeling that they are being judged creates a mental block. The only solution for this is to inculcate in them a sense of belief in their own abilities along with constant appreciation for their every small effort and constructive criticism at times when they commit a mistake. Perhaps these are the techniques which are universally applicable in achieving better learning outcomes in students. Let us work in this direction.

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