Many teenage girls find it difficult to express themselves, whether that is answering questions in class or speaking up with their friends. Through the ‘Speaking confidently’ module in the Building Resilience programme girls learn to develop the mindset and skills for expressing ourselves, adopting a growth mindset approach. Girls have plenty of opportunity to practice this in a supportive and fun way during the session. This article outlines how this session unlocked Jessica’s* ability and confidence to express herself.

In the ‘Speaking confidently’ session I noticed Jessica was reticent to ask questions or contribute to the discussion. I sensed this was an area of difficulty for her. But I could also see that she was intrigued by the idea that she could change her approach and how she expressed herself.

Unsurprisingly teen girls find it awkward – and funny – when practising eye contact with each other. Cue embarrassed giggles. But by experiencing the difference between feeling listened to when eye contact is maintained, opposed to the disinterest they felt with a lack of eye contact, they could see its importance. And of course, practising this is key. As the session progressed, I noted that everyone was making an effort to look me in the eye when answering a question or contributing to our discussion.

After practising some further skills for speaking confidently, we wrapped the session up with every girl committing to choose one subject where she would make an effort to put her hand up to answer questions, or volunteer to speak in class in another way.

I was intrigued to hear how they got on.

At following week’s session, Jessica fed back that at a workshop for the whole year, suddenly the microphone had been handed to her. She’d previously have refused to speak, but remembering what she’d learnt in our session she’d taken a brave breath, and talked in front of the whole year about what her team had done during the activity. She was so proud of herself!

I was delighted that Jessica had stepped up in this way, and proven to herself that she could do it. And it transpired that these new skills had served her well in class, enabling her to progress academically too; at the end of the programme one of her teachers reflected on the change she had noticed:

“This student has always been an excellent History student on paper, but would not speak up. Now she engages in class discussion, leads group tasks and offers to read things out and give answers in front of the whole class.”

If you’re looking for a programme that builds resilience and personal skills, enabling teen girls to progress both personally and academically, find out about the availability of the Building resilience programme by contacting Caroline Walker on hello@confidentteens.co.uk

(* name changed)