Effective Teacher Praises

September 4, 2007 at 3:39 pm | Posted in behavior, best practices, education, strategies | Leave a comment

Mr. Pullen brought up an extremely important topic in teacher talk: effective praises.  Simply telling a child that he/she is smart may end up being detrimental to that child.  Read the in-depth article for more information on the research.

For teachers, we know that teacher talk is important and teacher praise is critical in determining a child’s behavior and motivation.  Here is my quick list of Ineffective Praises and Effective Praises.

Ineffective Praises

  • Good job!
  • Excellent!
  • I like it.
  • You are so smart.
  • I like what you are doing.
  • You got a perfect score!

These praises are quick, easy, and meaningless.  They are generic and gives a quick burst of good feelings, but don’t really help the child learn or acquire effective work habits or learning skills.  Contrast those with:

Effective Praises

  • I like the way your writing is neat and your letters are in between the guidelines.
  • Your writing has improved so much!  I see detail sentences here and here.
  • You are so polite when you apologized to so and so.
  •  I like the way you circled your spelling mistake and tried your best to sound it out.
  • You started to work immediately.  You are an independent learner!

These praises are specific to the student and the situation.  Students immediately learn what “good job” means and can repeat it.  Guaranteed, your other students will also be joining in in exhibiting these specific behavior so that they too can earn praises.  More importantly, you are guiding the students toward appropriate behavior, work ethics, and learning with praises.  Combine effective praises with clear expectations and students know exactly what they need to do to be successful in the classroom.

The Adult World

Do people use praises in the adult world?  Of course!  Do we need these praises to be targeted and specific in order to improve our performance?  Absolutely.  I’ve had administrators come in and leave a lovely note on my desk that read “Good job!  I really enjoyed visiting your classroom.”  My first thought of course was: did you even bother to watch?  What was good?  I want feedback, not pats on the head!  I’ve also had occassions when my admin left a note saying “Good use of ___ to ____.”  Hey, now that’s different!

The Praising Game 

Since these were just short lists, let’s play a blog game.  Bloggers, create your own list of effective praises and ineffective praises.  Then, pop me an e-mail or a comment so I can add you to our list of effective/ineffective praises.

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