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How to Inspire Courage in the Classroom

Tiffany Dunagan  |  February 27, 2019
Courage is a daily practice, especially in the classroom. Courage, to us, is confidently acting in accordance to your beliefs, despite fear, difficulty, or opposition. That can seem like a heavy notion for a classroom full of kids, but it’s incredibly relevant as students grow into young adults.
Teaching students to have courage in the classroom not only increases engagement and academic achievement, but it also helps students learn how to handle adversity. You might not think that children handle many adversities, but they do — they try new things every day at school! You can effectively inspire courage in the classroom by teaching students what it means to be courageous and what it looks like in real-life situations.
Let your students know that when things are difficult, it’s OK to be fearful and make mistakes — that’s how we learn! Encourage students to try new things that seem difficult, including trying new foods, learning a new sport, speaking in front of class, or standing up for a friend in need.
Courage does not need to be a big affair, it can be as small as raising your hand to ask a question. Sometimes courage is quiet, meaning there is not always an applause at the end. It is essential for teachers and parents to encourage, recognize, and celebrate when students show courage, because they might not realize they’re doing it. Students also need to learn how to voice their opinions and respectfully disagree with others, which can come in handy when the time comes for them to stick up for what they believe in.
To inspire your students to be courageous, you can discuss characters in stories and novels that show courage or could have shown courage. Ask questions and listen to what they think courage looks like. You also can purposefully study famous courageous figures, including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and Malala Yousafzal. Start a discussion with your students and see what they have to say about the courage these figures have shown.