Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Praise - Good or Bad?

I've heard a lot on the topic of praise lately, and it's not always good.

There was discussion about praise at my Common Core workshop last week.  It sounded a lot like the discussion I heard at last week's Whole Brain Teaching webinar on Tuesday night.

Both discussions were about the specific kind of praise we give children.  Of course praise is valuable, but certain kinds of praise can have an adverse effect on children.

Here's what the experts say:  Don't praise a child for something they have no control over.  Praise the child for something they can control.  Praise the child for effort, strategies, or perseverance.

Here is an example:  Don't praise a child because he is smart.  When that happens, a child tends to feel disappointed in himself when he doesn't do well.  He thinks, "I'm not as smart as she thought I was!"  It can actually lead to a child giving up or giving less effort.

Instead, praise the child for something they've done.  "I like the way you worked at that problem until you found the solution." or "I noticed you figured out what this word meant, how did you figure it out?"

One of the things I've loved from Whole Brain Teaching is the Super Improver's Wall.  The idea is not to reward children for being smart, it's to reward them for effort.  It can be effort on anything!  I  actually had a kid move on the board last year because he worked at remembering his snack.  Seriously, it can be anything!

Here's what my Improvement Board looked like last year.  I've seen much fancier walls, but this did the trick.  They start the year at the lowest level, and have to earn 5 stickers at that level before they worked their way to the top.  It really did take them all year, but many of the students felt this was their favorite thing about second grade.  There was no question about them all growing as learners!  (Not just the smart kids... although I have to say I get all smart kids in my classroom!)  This helps children build their self esteem in a positive way.  It also gives them the important feedback that is essential to learning.


For more information about the Super Improver's Wall, go to the Whole Brain Teaching Website.  If you scroll through the videos on the homepage, the recorded webinar for this topic is Program #503.  There is also a forum with discussions on the Super Improver's Wall here.  The more I learn about Whole Brain Teaching, the more I love it!  It's all about the things I love as a teacher...  what works best to help the brain learn!

12 comments:

  1. Hi Sally:
    I am making a conscious decision to really think about the words I choose when I use praise this year--I think praising effort and improvement make a difference (rather than those inherent abilities). Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    Kim
    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim,

      It makes sense! I hope this helps!

      Sally

      Delete
  2. I just came across your blog and saw this post. This is the second blog I've seen in the last few days about the super improver wall. I am in live with this idea. It is on my To Do list for my classroom this year.

    Thanks for sharing. I'm a new follower.

    Katrina
    Teacherofscholars.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katrina,

      I'm sure you and your students will enjoy it!

      Sally

      Delete
  3. Katrina,
    I'm glad you found my blog, thanks for the follow! The Super Improver's Wall was the best new thing I did last year!

    Sally

    ReplyDelete
  4. thanks for sharing your SIW!

    I struggle with praise too, its very hard to get on the right track, and to keep yourself from praising kids for things they have no control over, or something not specific.

    I'm your newest follower.

    Mrs.D Reading with Mrs. D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mrs D,

      I agree, it's not easy!

      Sally

      Delete
  5. LOVE the Super Improver's Wall. I'm going to have to spend some time browsing the link you provided at the Whole Brain board - thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erin,

      It's definitely worth the time!

      Sally

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I deleted and reposted this because of a spelling error:
    I am retired now, but was a National Board certified teacher before I retired. During working on that certification I discovered Marvin Marshall and Discipline Without Stress, Rewards, or Punishment. It changed the whole way I thought about praise, rewards, and classroom management. It is an easy read and seems too simple to be true, but I can assure you that if you do the things he says, you will get a lot more teaching time as the children learn to monitor their own behavior and feel good about themselves in the process. Here is the link to it. It is worth the time to read about it. http://www.marvinmarshall.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Norwich,

      I'll definitely look into it!

      Sally

      Delete

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