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Five Hints to Help Avoid False Praise and Give Valuable Feedback

How do you feel about false praise? 

You know, when someone tells you that you've done a great job, when in your heart, you know you haven't?

 

Beware of False Praise! It's important to give students  feedback, and they need to feel good about what they're doing, but false praise doesn't help!
 
One time, I was working hard with an exercise video when the instructor said, "Great job!"  I remember thinking... how does she know I'm doing a great job? I could be sitting here eating a bowl of potato chips, and that's not doing a good job!

I've also had people compliment me on things that I know weren't my best work. How do I feel about it?

Well, honestly, it makes me lose my trust in that person. And it frustrates me. I'm sure your students feel the same way. 

Students absolutely need feedback, and they need to develop self worth. But false praise is NOT the way to get there! 

Here are a few suggestions for avoiding praise and giving feedback that matters:

 
 1. Know your students! It's important that you know your students. Not only academically, but personally. Know what they feel good about and what they're sensitive about.

Beware of False Praise! It's important to give students  feedback, and they need to feel good about what they're doing, but false praise doesn't help!
 
 2. Follow the "2 to 1" rule! This means, two compliments and one "you need to work on" item. Of course you wouldn't just say, "great job" or "you're awesome." Make sure they are genuine compliments, which shouldn't be tough to find. As long as you see any effort at all, that can be one of your compliments. It's also important that you always give them something specific to work on.


 3. Make sure your students know you! Let them know about the things you struggle with as well as your successes. When you make mistakes, let them see you model correcting mistakes. When you struggle with something, let them see you processing your way through the struggle.
Beware of False Praise! It's important to give students  feedback, and they need to feel good about what they're doing, but false praise doesn't help!

4. Make sure your students trust you! This tip goes right along with #3, making sure they know you, but it goes beyond knowledge. Trust is something that must be earned, so this won't happen the first weeks of school. By the time the initial "get to know you" period is done, the students should absolutely know you can be trusted.

 Beware of False Praise! It's important to give students  feedback, and they need to feel good about what they're doing, but false praise doesn't help!

 5. Always, always, always be honest! If you tell the students they're good at something, and they know they're not, you've lost their trust. When you give information about something they need to work on, and it's honest, you'll gain their trust. And that's more valuable than anything!

Since feedback is such a valuable part of learning, I've written several other blog posts about feedback. Here are some links.


 Beware of False Praise! It's important to give students  feedback, and they need to feel good about what they're doing, but false praise doesn't help!
 

Five Useful Tips and Tricks!

 

Beware of False Praise! It's important to give students  feedback, and they need to feel good about what they're doing, but false praise doesn't help!
 

The Importance of Failure

 
Beware of False Praise! It's important to give students  feedback, and they need to feel good about what they're doing, but false praise doesn't help!

Beware of False Praise! It's important to give students  feedback, and they need to feel good about what they're doing, but false praise doesn't help!

Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback

 What kind of praise do you give in the classroom?

How do you keep it honest and genuine?

Beware of False Praise! It's important to give students  feedback, and they need to feel good about what they're doing, but false praise doesn't help!






Three Purposes for Boom Learning Digital Task Cards

Children (and teachers) absolutely LOVE Boom Learning Digital Task Cards.

Did you realize there are different ways to use them?

Three Purposes for Boom Learning Digital Task Cards: Did you realize there are different ways to use these digital cards? Here are three ways. Can you think of more?

1. Skills Practice

Three Purposes for Boom Learning Digital Task Cards: Did you realize there are different ways to use these digital cards? Here are three ways. Can you think of more?


Skills practice is probably the most popular use of Boom Learning cards. Since Boom Cards can be used on tablets, phones, laptops, or desktops, it's easy to just send a link for the children to practice their skills at home, during center time, or for independent work. 
 

I've made some little videos so you can see the Boom Cards in action:

This first video is an example of part of my fact fluency system. There are 8 different levels for the children to master, and two review levels. 

This is Level 1 Addition and Subtraction:  the +1 families

(This one is a freebie!)


Here's an example of the multiplication and division fact fluency system:

Level 5 Multiplication and Division the X9 families


2. Assessment

Three Purposes for Boom Learning Digital Task Cards: Did you realize there are different ways to use these digital cards? Here are three ways. Can you think of more?

Assessment is a great use of the Boom Cards as well! With a paid membership to Boom Learning, teachers can see the records of everything their students have done while on Boom Learning. They can see which questions students got right or wrong, how long the student took on that question, and a record of how many times the student has used that deck. It's a wealth of information about the students, and it's amazingly easy to use!

The above fact fluency decks can be used for assessment as well as practice. I watch the scores of the children, and when they are close to 100% accuracy, we have a celebration and they move on to the next level. 

Assessment can have several purposes within itself! A teacher might want to assess students before a lesson or unit, in order to see what the students know. 

This one will let you know what your students know about figurative language.

Figurative Language Boom Learning Digital Task Cards

 

A teacher might want to do a personality assessment at the beginning of the school year, then again at various points through the year to see how the student grows and changes. Plus, they love talking (writing) about themselves!

Who Am I? Get to Know Your Students Boom Learning Task Cards


Here's a way to assess what your students know about germs!

Germs: Viruses and Bacteria Boom Learning Task Cards


 3. Exploration and Enrichment

Three Purposes for Boom Learning Digital Task Cards: Did you realize there are different ways to use these digital cards? Here are three ways. Can you think of more?

Enrichment and Exploration are my favorite purpose for Boom Learning cards! These cards are perfect for the students who have mastered the basic information and are ready to learn more. They can be assigned a deck on a topic they're not familiar with, and explore. The best part? They can do the same deck over and over, and their responses should become more and more accurate! (Teachers can keep an eye on this, and if they're not becoming more accurate, a conversation needs to take place with this student, of course!)


There are plenty of this type of Boom Learning decks. Here are a couple:

 Famous Black Americans: Who Said This?


I have a whole series of Social Studies and Science vocabulary builders. Check out this video of  

City, Country, or Candy


I have plenty more Boom Learning decks, which you can find HERE.

How do you use your Boom cards? 

Do you have other purposes for them?


Three Purposes for Boom Learning Digital Task Cards: Did you realize there are different ways to use these digital cards? Here are three ways. Can you think of more?



Routine and Novelty: How Can We Keep a Balance?

It's important to keep routine in our daily life, especially when it comes to children. Routine brings a sense of security and builds confidence in children. Knowing what to expect in their day makes them feel in control of their surroundings. It helps them build the courage to take risks.

But routine can also become boring.

Routine and Novelty: How Can We Keep a Balance? This blog post explores why we need both routine and novelty, and how we know when to "shake it up."

Brain research tells us that brains need both routine and novelty to grow. Yes, these words are antonyms, but both are necessary for learning to happen. Too much routine can become tedious and dull. Too much novelty becomes confusing and chaotic. How can we find a balance?

The best way to find that balance? Pay attention to your students! This is probably the most important part of being a teacher or a parent: know your students! Watch for signs that they are happy, bored, confused, or content. This is how you know they should continue with a routine, or are ready for a "shake up." 

The beginning of the school year, or right after a break, sticking to a routine is essential. They find comfort in that routine, and are happier and more content. 

But after a while, that same routine becomes the enemy! They need something different. A change. But as we all know, many people fear change. It's a rocky road, so proceed with caution.

Start with something simple. I always love to change the seating arrangement when boredom starts to set in. They get to come into a classroom that's familiar, but there's something different. When they find their new spot, there are loads of smiles! Plus, I love the giggles when they start to walk to their old spot, then realize they don't sit there anymore!

A few other ideas for an easy change from the routine: 

  • change the schedule (be careful, this could cause a domino effect with children who receive services) 
  • bring in a special snack to go with your lesson
  • speak with a funny voice, or use an accent
  • take a break from what you're teaching and have a special lesson
  • take your lesson to a different spot... outside, in the hall, cafeteria, or any extra space
  • wear something unique that will spark their attention
  • introduce some new team building games See these blog posts: Space Balls, Paper Bag Dramatics, Team Building Activities  (these games can often be altered to fit academics)
  • have them wear something to go with a theme
  • bring in a guest teacher or guest reader
  • do some Reader's Theater in the classroom See this blog post: Dramatics in the Classroom
  • plan a craft or art project to go with your lesson
  • get some new books for your classroom library
 
Once the children are able to handle small changes, it's time for a BIG change in routine!

Here in New England, the winters are long, dark and cold! By mid-January, we always need something big to shake things up! By this time, the children are quite secure in their routine, and basically dealing with "cabin fever" and are absolutely sick of everything! (No matter where you live, I'm sure the children get to this point!)

These are some things I do to help shake them from this state:
For more information about Routine and Novelty, see this blog post: Predictability and Novelty
 
 
Routine and Novelty: How Can We Keep a Balance? This blog post explores why we need both routine and novelty, and how we know when to "shake it up."

 

Political Conflict: How Can We Help the Children?

America has been struggling with political conflict. 

As teachers and parents, how can we help the students through these difficult times?

 
There has always been conflict in our world. Unfortunately, it seems like there's a lot more lately.

I hate to give away my age, but I remember quite a few instances of conflict and pain, including these assassinations: John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy. 
 
I was teaching during the Challenger explosion, Columbine, numerous school shootings, and teaching drills such as lockdown, shelter in place, evacuation, and reverse evacuation.

My own daughter remembers 9/11, various school shootings and other mass shootings, the Boston Marathon bombing (while living in Boston), various hurricanes and wildfires, Black Lives Matter protests, and now, the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Young adults in her age group are very familiar with violence, unfortunately.

There are no perfect answers on how to deal with events like this, but here are some things to think about:

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

Every child is different, and every child has his or her own tolerance for what they can handle. I personally don't believe in giving children any more information than they can handle, and this is a rocky road. It's important to give them true information in the form of facts, but be careful not to give too much information that will confuse or upset them. Avoid letting them watch the news, as many children don't have the tools to cope with what they see. Approach with caution! 

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

In order to understand what they know and how to help, it's important to listen to them. Find out what they understand and what needs clarification. Ask questions. Learn more about what's going on with them. What are they thinking? Help them.

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

There are all sorts of mixed feelings these children might be experiencing. They may not even understand what they are feeling. We need to have lots of conversations, giving them a chance to explore and express their feelings. Art is a great way to let out feelings. Let them draw, paint, or create something to help them figure out what they are feeling.

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

As the children explore their feelings, help them identify what they're feeling by sharing your own. If they are confused, tell a story about when you were confused about your own feelings. If they are frightened, tell them about a time you were frightened. Even better? Include information about how you dealt with those feelings.

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

This one is so hard! I assure you, both sides of any conflict truly believe they are saying and doing what is right. Families of all your students belong to both sides of any conflict. It's important to keep opinions out of the classroom. But it's important for children to know that breaking the law or causing harm to others is never OK. One of my most valuable teaching lessons was learned while taking my students on a field trip to the local police station. When children asked about what happens to "bad people," they were answered with this comment: "There are no bad people, just people who made bad choices."

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

One or two good conversations might be enough for some children, but there are others who need a constant checking in. You know your students. Watch them closely. There may need to be frequent check-ins with several children to make sure they're OK. Some may need private conversations. Some may need group conversations. Morning meetings are great places to have these conversations.

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

Children do open up in many situations. For some, it's a group discussion, such as Morning Meeting. For others, it's expressing themselves with art or music. Sometimes, a distraction is just what they need. Amazing conversations happen while simply playing board games. (My favorite is Apples to Apples... and I use the excuse that they're practicing reading skills, so I squeeze it into reading group time!)

Books are also an awesome way to get children to open up, and figure out the words to explain how they are feeling. It might be tough to find perfect books for the perfect situation, but reading some "feel good" books would be a great idea. You know these books... old favorites, happy endings, upbeat, joyful, and heartwarming. The kind of story that makes the children feel safe.
 

Things I truly believe:

  • Most people have good souls.
  • The children's mental health is far more important than academics.
  • They need to be heard, and they need to be loved.
  • Good will prevail.

 

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

 


Toxic Positivity

Have you ever heard anyone say these phrases?

  • Don't be so negative!
  • It will all be fine.
  • Look at the bright side.
  • Don't worry about it.
Toxic Positivity: Is it possible to be too positive? Here are some reasons why it can be, and what to do when someone is positively toxic.

 How about these?

  • Think only happy thoughts.
  • Good vibes only.
  • Happiness is a choice.
  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • There are plenty of people who have it worse.

These phrases are usually  spoken with the intention of being kind. 

But seriously, do they ever make you feel differently?

There really is a thing known as "toxic positivity." It's great to have a positive attitude, and to try to be happy. But some people go overboard. When that happens, it can be maddening!

Being positive all the time encourages one to suppress negative feelings, which leads to all sorts of physical and emotional issues such as mental illness, heart disease, insomnia, digestive problems and autoimmune disease.

We have life experiences that include good feelings and bad feelings. I confess, there have been times in my life where I have buried my negative feelings. It wasn't the best choice, but honestly, it was the only choice I had at the time. (Like when I suddenly became a single parent.) 

I wouldn't recommend it.

Negative feelings are real. They should be validated. People should be allowed to grieve. People need empathy and compassion. People need someone who cares.

The biggest problem with toxic positivity is that it brings shame. It's isolating and demoralizing. And more often than not, it makes a person feel even worse about real emotions they are feeling.

I've watched a few videos on Youtube that explain it far better than I can!



I hope these were helpful!

Here are some ideas on how to avoid toxic positivity:

Never put a person down for having feelings!

Toxic Positivity: Is it possible to be too positive? Here are some reasons why it can be, and what to do when someone is positively toxic.
Sometimes there really isn't a bright side, and people are hurting! Don't brush them off when they need you!
 
Seriously, really bad things happen. Happiness isn't always a choice.

I think this is the one that annoys me the most. How could a person really compare your feelings to someone else? We are all different and unique, and we all need empathy and compassion more than comparisons.

Ideas for handling when someone gives toxic positivity instead of empathy and compassion.

It's ok to let it out. There are socially acceptable ways to let it out. Please don't hold it in.

Don't be the "giver" of toxic positivity!

It's ok to hurt. It's ok to grieve. It's all ok. In fact, it's human, and it's healthy. (You might not want to grieve 24/7, but it's important to let it out.)

Let your friends and work companions see good examples of dealing with feelings. Teach through example.

It's not always possible to avoid those "fair weather friends" but we can try to spend most of our time with people who can show compassion and caring.
 
I truly believe it's possible to be positive much of the time. But don't let it become toxic, and don't let it bury valid feelings.
 
And try to remember, the people who are doing this mean well.

Toxic Positivity: Is it possible to be too positive? Here are some reasons why it can be, and what to do when someone is positively toxic.


They're Not "Falling Behind..."

They're not "falling behind." 

They're surviving a pandemic!

 

They're Not "Falling Behind..." They're Surviving a Pandemic! This blog post lists some challenges and ideas for helping children through a pandemic.

I saw this phrase posted on Twitter the other day, and it struck a nerve.

Well, technically, yes, they are falling behind academically from where they should be at this point in their lives. And I know that frustrates teachers, parents, and administrators. 

The pandemic has been very difficult on all of us, but the children have had their lives uprooted. Yet, many of the children don't even understand why!

They can't see their friends. They can't see their teachers. They can't have conversations. They have to sit in front of a screen, and do assignments with little or no interaction. Their parents are frustrated if they need attention or help, as they are trying to do their own work. Or worse, their parents aren't there.

Even those who are lucky enough to be in school aren't having the expected school experience. They can't sit next to each other. They can't work in small groups. They can't share materials. They have to wear masks all the time.

It is a rare child who has the self motivation to pay attention during online learning, do assignments independently, and pass them in on time. After all they're kids!

 
These poor kids!

They're Not "Falling Behind..." They're Surviving a Pandemic! This blog post lists some challenges and ideas for helping children through a pandemic.
 
Zoom fatigue is real. Depression is real. Right now, these children are struggling with far more important things than schoolwork. Yes, I'm a teacher, I really did say that, but seriously, there really are things more important than schoolwork. Their mental health, for example!


With new vaccines being released, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It's not forever!

They're Not "Falling Behind..." They're Surviving a Pandemic! This blog post lists some challenges and ideas for helping children through a pandemic.

Help them to understand this... it's not easy for little ones!

 
But I hope to think of this as a time where they are growing in other areas.

They're Not "Falling Behind..." They're Surviving a Pandemic! This blog post lists some challenges and ideas for helping children through a pandemic.

It's a good time to focus on their whole well-being, not just academics.

How can we do that? Simple! Talk to them, learn what interests them, let them explore those things.

Right now, they're really needing to socialize, yet it's not easy with social distancing. Look for ways to get them talking to each other in safe ways... break out Zoom groups, socially distanced chats, and I'm sure there are other ways if we can be creative!

Here are a few other ideas to take the pressure off the academics and let children explore and learn other, important life skills:

Cooking and baking - besides the following directions and math skills, children are learning to be self-sufficient!

Take walks - As long as they're socially distanced, walking is not only good exercise, but it's a great way to explore the world.

Spend time outside - besides walking, there are plenty of outdoor places to visit and outdoor things to do that are safe and will get them breathing fresh air and getting excited about things going on around them! Children can learn about gardening, shadows, rainbows, qualities of air, properties of water, local animals, and plenty more!

Play board games - There are so many things children learn from playing board games! Just make sure you don't always let them win. Losing gracefully is an important skill!

And the most important thing we can do: Read to them! - I can't emphasize this enough. Read daily. Talk about the books. Let them choose the books. Choose books that will get them talking. Make it the best part of the day! (It's always my favorite time of the day!)

I've always been a believer that we are happier when we have something to look forward to. Right now, that's more important than ever! They might need your help with this, but I'm sure you can help the children find something positive in their future! 

They're Not "Falling Behind..." They're Surviving a Pandemic! This blog post lists some challenges and ideas for helping children through a pandemic.

You know, I truly believe the academics will level off. They won't be behind forever!

 Here are a few links to similar blog posts: 


Our world is crazy right now! Many students will not return to school until the autumn.What can we do about that extra long summer slide?

Avoiding TOO MUCH Screen Team: Technology is fabulous, and it's helping bridge education and communication during Social Distancing, but TOO MUCH is harmful. Here are some alternate activities to keep children offline. There's even a freebie!

 

Five Ways to Get Them Learning OUTSIDE!  There's something special about being outside, and it's a great place to practice important skills.
What are your ideas for helping the children grow in ways other than academically during the pandemic?

They're Not "Falling Behind..." They're Surviving a Pandemic! This blog post lists some challenges and ideas for helping children through a pandemic.


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