Monday, August 29, 2011

Giving Positive Feedback to Your Students

All students respond well to positive feedback. The key is to teach your point in a positive way, even when you feel like saying something negative. Following are a few tips for teachers:

• Positive feedback must be a result of student behavior. This tells students that you are aware of their performance individually and in a group. Students will begin to see that you give feedback to the best performance of every individual.

• Positive feedback should be given matter-of-factly. Flowery, emotional praise can embarrass students, especially preteens. Positive feedback should not imply that you are treating students any differently from the way you would treat an adult.

• Use descriptive statements that briefly tell students what was worthy of comment. Praise their accomplishments or their efforts, not their personalities.

• Positive feedback to individual students should be relatively private. Students can be embarrassed by comments that single them out as the “teacher’s pet.”

• Give feedback to student groups whenever possible. Frequent group praise helps establish a sense of cooperation and community among your student group.

• Eliminate pauses after giving positive feedback. For some students this can be very uncomfortable. Instead say, (Julie), good job on reading that Scripture, now let’s turn to…

• Be persistent. Some students feel uncomfortable with praise because they have had so little. But every student needs to learn that he or she has enough self-worth to accept recognition from someone else.

• Give students choices as much as possible. For example, "Would you like to do the craft first or the pencil puzzle?" Or, "You can turn in your project on time and I'll grade it this week or you can turn it in late and I'll grade it in a few months."

• After giving students lots of choices, you can ask them to do what you're asking as a favor to you. For example, say, "Now that I've let you choose the activities today, I'd like you to pick up these papers as a favor to me."

• When a student expresses anger, let him calm down before you respond. Let him know you're busy right now but you can talk tomorrow (or later). Show empathy toward the student. For example, you could say, "That's a bummer. Let's talk about it tomorrow. Don't worry about it." There is usually no need to take sides or make suggestions or give consequences on the spur of the moment. Often the students will come up with their own ideas after having a chance to think things through.

• Give negative feedback in private, and make sure it's constructive and the student has ownership of the situation. For example, "I'm sorry you decided to turn in the project late. What were the consequences for a late project? That's right, you won't get a grade for a few months. I'm sorry about that. But don't worry. You can decide when to turn in the next project. Conclude in prayer with the student.

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