Today, the big question in the classroom is — to praise or not to praise. There have been some condemning reports as of late confusing teachers, making them unsure about the best ways to encourage to students.
We all want to be recognized for our good works; it helps build confidence and nurture self-esteem. It plays a role in any lesson: to eliminate it would make for a cold environment. When used strategically, it can really motivate kids and encourage a positive classroom culture. However, students can recognize when the praise is disingenuous. Excessive over-praising can be counterproductive. It can lead to unresponsive and lazy students.
Praise in the classroom must not be generic. Instead, it should target specific learning goals. Kids should be told they are executing the task well and using the correct skills. Let them know they are moving in the right direction because they understand the lesson. Pinpoint exactly what they are doing right so they can replicate it. The good feedback should be precise, not a basic, “good job.”
Too much praise can be demotivating, especially if it is not clear. Also, avoid praise that is not earned or untrue. Students may fail to achieve their best because they don’t really know what that is, or how to do it. Instead, praise to recognize perseverance, improvement, and engagement. Acknowledge students who persist in overcoming academic difficulties. By praising genuine effort, you set the stage for quality and pride in work.
Praising the stellar performers raises the bar in the classroom, it helps teachers set high behavioral expectations. Kids who strive to reach these positive goals are highlighted in the hopes that others will follow their lead.
To praise students sincerely and effectively, teachers must be sensitive and empathetic. There are always shy kids in the classroom who dread being called on in class. These students need one-on-one quiet moments of praise. Knowing and understanding the individuals we teach helps us make wiser decisions about how to communicate, encourage and motivate them.
The most effective praise flows naturally; it is spontaneous. It conveys genuine enthusiasm about a major accomplishment when students least expect. It is real, so they trust it. This type of sincere praise can fuel their drive to succeed.