When a pupil performs well at school, it’s a natural response to commend them for their efforts and say ‘well done.’ After all, an acknowledgement of a success can be hugely motivating, both for naturally gifted students and those who might struggle a little more.
But how can teachers make sure the praise they offer means something and genuinely has a long-lasting impact on a child?
Praise different types of success
It’s very easy to shower praise on those students who come away with the highest test results or produce the best piece of work in their class. However, there will be others who deserve praise for varying reasons. For instance, a less able pupil might get lower marks but still put in considerable effort and hard work that deserves commending, or made huge improvements throughout the course of the year. Acknowledging these successes sends out a valuable lesson to pupils that aren’t necessarily expected to excel academically. By showing you care about more than just top marks, you can keep less able students engaged with your lessons and their wider education.
Explain why you’re giving praise
While saying ‘well done’ can be a great way to give a pupil a lift, this might only last for a very brief time. So follow it up with the reasons why you’re recognising their efforts. By outlining the specific areas where they have performed exceptionally well, they can feel confident carrying out these tasks again in the future. Furthermore, the feedback you give might also highlight areas where they may need to improve, but in a way that inspires rather than demoralises them.
Offer tangible incentives for success
Many classrooms have informal reward schemes in place, with certificates and prizes being given out to those who reach certain benchmarks. These could be anything from stickers, badges and sweets to items that they can use in class, such as rulers, pencils, notepads or other stationery essentials. By having something they can physically take away and maybe even show off at home, children might get further praise from their parents and come in the next day with even more focus and enthusiasm!
Offer praise sparingly
When trying to get to know your class it can be easy to offer praise around to everyone every day. However, the impact could reduce over time as pupils will get used to hearing lofty superlatives, rather than sit up and take note of genuine feedback. Furthermore, older students in particular may be able to tell if you’re not being entirely sincere, which could make them less engaged in the long run. So by offering praise sparingly, it’s more likely to be perceived as a meaningful action rather than an automatic response. Pick your moments carefully so your words have maximum impact.
Ultimately, the key to delivering meaningful praise is showing that you mean it. While ability levels and behavioural standards will vary from pupil to pupil, every child will enjoy the feeling that comes with a sincere and well-meant compliment. It can provide the push they need to put in maximum effort in the future and forge a positive attitude to school work.
Using Praise to Enhance Student Resilience and Learning Outcomes apa.org
It pays to praise: The benefits of classroom compliments Imagine Learning
Teacher Praise: An Efficient Tool to Motivate Students Intervention Central