What's confidence got to do with it?

While still at secondary school, I was asked to help a younger pupil with their Maths. Seeing the younger pupil grow in confidence and improve rapidly, I began to see how teaching could make a difference. 

After studying Science at university, I trained to be a teacher, completing my course at Homerton College, Cambridge University.

A lack of confidence was holding them back

Throughout my extensive teaching career, both in the UK and abroad, I noticed that a lot of children and adults lacked confidence and this was something I related with and understood. A lack of confidence was the thing holding them back. One child in particular stood out – at the beginning of the academic year, this child could barely complete any parts of a Maths test. However, through gentle questioning and encouragement, I realised that her understanding and knowledge was already there. Lack of confidence hindered her progress. During the year, I worked with this child, ensuring that her starting point was well within her capability and gradually showing her that she was really good at Maths. By the end of the year, with a huge increase of confidence, this same child had made so much progress, in her end of year test, she actually was ahead of her twin brother!

I too, lacked confidence

One of the reasons I was so successful with this child was that I had had the same experience. While at secondary school, I studied Spanish for 5 years. Although I enjoyed the subject, I gradually became further and further behind my classmates, to the extent of being moved into a small group of just 5 students. Even in this small group, I made little progress as I barely spoke and struggled to string a sentence together. It was only after my parents hired a tutor to help me with the speaking side of the subject, that my confidence grew a little – enough to be able to pass my GCSE.

And it's back again....

A few years later, I took part on a volunteer project in Nepal. Part of the project involved learning Nepali. All my old fears came back! When a friend was struggling for a word, in my head I knew it, but wouldn’t say it, just in case it was wrong. My lack of confidence held me back every single time.  I was so annoyed with myself but seemingly powerless to do anything about it.

Lacking confidence has a huge impact on self-esteem and belief

When I moved to Venezuela, I was determined to overcome this with my Spanish language. With a renewed mindset, finding friendly, supportive people to practise with, I finally became confident in speaking Spanish to communicate with strangers, find my way around and ask for help and not have to worry. I vowed that I wanted to help children.

Confidence 121 - helping all children have confidence in themselves

Growing up, feeling extremely unconfident had a huge impact on how fast I was able to progress and I never want the students I tutor to be in the same position. From the very first session, I strive to put the student at ease, creating an environment that is calm, friendly and fun so that students are able to show their true ability. 

Nowadays, with my tutoring, I meet students from many different backgrounds; some attending an international school, others being home educated and others attending their local schools. I love hearing about their lives, what they do on the weekends, seeing the differences in how they are being taught and what they are learning. It truly is an amazing week to tutor students from the UK to Hong Kong,  Ghana to Belarus and  Jamaica to the US!

A picture of Catherine Rooke, the owner of Confidence 121

More about Catherine

As well as teaching and tutoring, I have a passion for playing the cello and piano. When I was younger, I joined the Kent County Youth Orchestra and went on two tours to Argentina and Brazil, staying with local families. This gave me an insight into the way people across the world lived and ignited my passion for travelling and meeting people from other countries. From this initial experience, I have sought out opportunities to live, work and travel to many different countries and participated and lead educational programmes and workshops in South Africa, Nepal and South Sudan. 

While travelling to various parts of the world, I have had the opportunity to incorporate my passion of photography to record and document the natural world around me and family life within the local communities I have lived amongst.