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Make Self-Belief Cool at School

My name is Ash Curmi and I am an eight year primary school teacher and former PE teacher from QLD, Australia. I currently teach Year 5/6 and have also taught Year 3 for a number of years. My classroom is known around the school as “the basketball classroom.” I’m cool with this. In my career, I always strive to place an emphasis on student growth not just academically, but socially and personally.

Some might say encouraging growth on a social and personal level seems inevitable in the teaching profession. We know that relationship building is paramount for effective teaching and learning. As teachers, daily you hear laughter, you see happiness and you feel warmth. Daily, you promote participation, trust and comfort. Daily, you willingly seek opportunities to be a helping hand in academic and social circumstances. Daily, you are there as a guiding light or the trustworthy figure when adversity strikes in different forms.

“There was Something Different About This Year” I received a lovely letter from a Year 5 parent at the conclusion of the school year.

“There was something different about this year. This year, my child has found himself, his confidence has grown, his self-belief has blossomed and for the first time EVER he has been keen to actually explore his true potential. I firmly believe that this is a result of your guidance, encouragement and mentoring. Thank you for being such a fabulous role model for our boy. He has truly loved being in your class.”

Isn’t teaching rewarding? The comment that stood out to me was that “his self belief blossomed.” The ultimate compliment, which made me stop and think. How did I encourage my students to believe in themselves, to have confidence and to have an optimistic mindset?

On the first day of school, I tell the kids about their new teacher. The fact that their new teacher strives to approach life situations with confidence, persistence, and resilience. That their new teacher is totally okay with mistake making and failure as a framework for success. That their new teacher took weeks of trial and error, falling over and bruising, anger and frustration to learn how to do a kickflip on a skateboard. That their teacher idolises an NBA All-Star named Jimmy Butler who had an impossible chance of being successful, which was reinforced by being the last pick of the 2011 NBA draft. That their new teacher promotes a classroom full of optimism, encouragement, and mistake making. That their new teacher is on their team.

Relate it to Real Life As a teacher and role model, it is important to refer and relate learning to real life situations outside of school and to be an ambassador for self-belief. To show students that it applies not only at school, but in any field of interest whether it be sports, academics, careers, gaming. To show them that self-belief occurred as an infant when you learned to walk. To teach them that a professional has failed more times than a beginner has tried. We need to share these stories during learning experiences, if a child experiences a challenge or if they need the spark of confidence to subsequently light the fire. We need to teach them that believing in themselves is the first step to success and training the mindset to be strong and fearless means fear itself will be an illusion.

So to me, as I self-reflect from day one, the ultimate compliment is when kids experience growth academically, socially, and personally. My kids have learned something different this year and I couldn’t be prouder. In the wise words of the great Michael Jordan, “I’ve missed over 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost over 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Follow Ash Curmi on:

Instagram: @mrcurmisclassroom

TikTok: @mrcurmisclassroom

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850 Twin Rivers Dr. 

Unit 1643

Columbus, OH 43216


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