Building Confidence by Teaching the Details

To remember is to be confident in one’s learned knowledge.

Many times I have had an A-level student who understands the material one day but forgets by the next day. They didn’t store the information in their brains because they were not confident they had learned the information correctly. Whether you are working with low, medium, or high level students, it is imperative to instill in them confidence of their chemistry knowledge.

By teaching every detail, you can help instill academic confidence in your students. The tiny details such as the charge of subatomic particles are easy for students to understand and learn. This easy detail helps students feel like they've got this or at least part of this material. The easy details (when explicitly taught) help students feel like they are moving forward in their knowledge. This confidence helps students when they face a tougher topic such as electron configuration. With tougher topis, keep teaching and encouraging practice until students gain that same level of confidence. With a topic such as this, it is helpful to start with tiny bite size details. It may be overwhelming and difficult for students to write the electron configuration of iron (Fe). Start instead by asking students to locate the s, p, d, and f block on the periodic table and then build from there. If students have knowledge and confidence in the tiny details, you can build those small details into an understanding of a larger concept.

I have at the end of a class asked students to give me a thumbs up, thumbs down, or thumbs in between diagnosis of their own confidence in what we are learning. This has been at times my radar for deciding when students are ready to move on. I may see knowledge on paper, but if my students are giving me side-ways thumbs or thumbs down, they do not confidence in their learning. This means we need as a class to keep practicing.

Happy Teaching :)

- Founder of Chemistry with Confidence

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