Praise with Purpose

In the attached article you will find information on positive praise, especially for middle school students. “When middle school teachers praised students at least as often as they reprimanded them, class-wide on-task behavior improved by 60% to 70%, according to a BYU study.”

One of the most important things I stressed to staff was always to address the child by name with a positive greeting before you addressed a behavior. Children want to know that you know them, see them hear them before you ever try to teach them anything.

“Researchers observed 28 classrooms across five middle schools. They noted that teachers gravitated toward criticizing statements four to nine times as often as they used statements giving praise.”

Action steps

  • Challenge yourself to “praise pays.” When I was a teacher, I had some challenging students. So I made up little games I played they no one else knew about. I would place ten bingo chips in my right pocket in the morning. Every time I gave praise, I moved a chip to my left pocket. When I gave a critical comment, I moved one to my right pocket. (If I did not have any in my left pocket to move to the right, I would have to get one from the jar on my desk.)
  • Some days I needed to focus on specific individuals. I would then use a little clipboard with all student’s names. I would use symbols that was code for me to help me track my praise and critical comments.
  • One of the additional things I did was as a class we did a praise party pop’in pot! It was a can decorated as a popcorn pot! When it was full we would enjoy a praise party. It worked the same way my bingo chips did. If I heard a student giving praise they came up and put a chip in, but if I heard critical stuff one came out.

As principal at a middle school we did some of the same things. We had a clear tower by the front office and students could drop off praise tickets they received. We did drawings and when it was full we had a building party.

What do you do to praise? Building a positive work, teaching, and learning climate and culture takes planning. Planning does not mean it is not authentic but intentional with purpose.

Praising students works better than scolding, study finds

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