Building Trust & Empowering Students

April 5, 2023

Why did others not tell me this? These words are probably what a teacher hears repeatedly. The words also ring a bell of self-doubt. Had I known it I would have changed? I would have had the ability to cope with the situation. Many students came with painful emotions that nothing could be done. It is all their fault or they did not have the power to face the situation. It is so appropriate that student need to manage their mind along with the external world. They need to catch attention of people, share insights and talk about their problems and doubts. However many students feel that there is a single tool or a magic wand that can be used to navigate through all types of issues and problems and cone out successful.

Besides giving academic knowledge and support to a student can a teacher be a guidepost on how to deal with emotions and problem, Issues and concerns of their students in a healthy way? Can a teacher empower them to make them resilient and thrive? Is it not important to build a system that would make them – the teacher and the students – to deal with issues like stress and strain, emotional issues etc. in a healthy way? A student has to be taught to accept success as well as failures. Have the ability to tolerate distress and nurture sound mental health.

Dealing with Approval: We live in a society that nurtures approval of what we do or do not do. The feedback that we get from the near significant people in our lives in fact give meaning to what we do. It is here that a student tend to rely on what teachers and others have to say. It is in this context that questions like –Why did others not tell me this? becomes significant.

The question must be looked at as approval as a menace of acceptance. Approval now becomes the corner stone of our existence. It also makes us dependent on those who give us approval. I did it because they told me to do it? It is a very basic fact of life that nobody really can teach us how to deal with situations. Our undue dependence on others destroys our self-esteem.

When a student anticipates criticism or disapproval, it paralysis their ability to strive to achieve things. Teachers need to build skills in students to deal with criticisms or disapproval in a healthy way. When a teacher uses criticisms, they should make it a point that the student has not come up to the teachers’ expectation but it is not rejection or abandonment. A teacher has to note that rejection is a serious threat. Every student irrespective of what he is, will not be rejected. It is the job of a teacher to criticise and correct. They need to tell that to a student in an understanding way. Criticisms and correction should help a student to build the desire to improve and understand. It should help them function as members of a social group. They need to develop in their students a sense of identity, become a mirror to their students which shows them what people may think of them, so that the world around make sense of what they are doing. Every correction must make them believe in themselves, Influence them and make them own their decisions and live up to the decisions they have taken.

Stop Pleasing Others: Every individual need to express his needs and say what they want to without of course hurting the feelings of others. A person needs to care about others. What needs to be looked into is pleasing others to get their approval, without considering what is needed by oneself. Disapproval of others must be considered but not at the expense of putting ones needs in the backburner. A student must be taught not to neglecting their own needs, they must not make the assumption that others are negatively looking at them and focusing on them. The student fears disapproval even if other people never say anything negative about them.

Nurturing Self-Worth: Under such circumstances, it is the responsibility of the teacher to nurture self-worth in their students. They need to impress on them that not all criticism is bad. There is the need which prompts them to correct their students to build their trust and confidence. Every criticism is not an attack on one’s personality. A person must remind himself that being imperfect is a part of being human. Failure does not mean a person is worthless. Failure is a experience to learn from. Criticism is an opinion not a fact. It may on face value look harsh but it provides a platform to introspect. Criticism must be used as a means of knowing the opinion of others. It should be analysed and something constructive must be derived from it. It should nurture self-worth.

When students enter into Universities and institutions of higher learning, a teacher must understand that many of them are coming from families that are the first generation entering University, they may be confident in their own place or in their own homes but when they enter universities and institutions of higher learning they become vulnerable, unsure of themselves, many a time unclear and need to adjust to a new culture and life style. University life becomes very uncertain and needs to be built brick by brick. The role of a teacher here is very pivot on which confidence is built. The role of a teacher is not just the dispenser of knowledge and given in the syllabus it now becomes a role of trust – to build up life of their students brick by brick with confidence, be supportive without being intruding, eliminate fear of the uncertain, build courage and in the process build self-acceptance, self-compassion and learn the value of building trust. Otherwise we will get to hear from the students – Why did others not tell me? Our students are the future generations of this great nation. They need to be empowered to build up a capacity to learn from others, build a comfort zone for themselves and to take an independent decision for themselves. It is their decision and when they make it, it is theirs to feel empowered and to take on the world which is manageable, supportive and without pressing the panic button.



By Dr P G Aquinas
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Comment on this article

  • Maria, Mangaluru

    Thu, Apr 20 2023

    Very well articulated article based on the observation of students point of view and the role of teachers to provide timely assistance so that students are able to move ahead towards achieving their goals with full potential.

  • Sharath, Mangalore

    Fri, Apr 07 2023

    Informative article you have elaborated what is responsibility of a teacher towards students

  • Vinutha, Mangalore

    Fri, Apr 07 2023

    Good article sir. You have well described what is the real responsibility of a teacher towards students.

  • Ben D'Souza Prabhu, Mangalore, Bombay Bandra now in Canada

    Thu, Apr 06 2023

    Very many thanks to you our dear friend Dr P G Aquinas for such a descriptive Coverage in your Lovely Article ! It is rightly providing inspirartion to our growing Students !!!

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