Saturday, May 7, 2011

Always use a green pencil

When a teacher uses a red pencil to comment, she shows greater concern with what’s wrong than with what’s right. At least, this is the perception held by my students.
Which is why our professional objective should be to draw the most out of our students and to build attitudes, behaviours and learning results we want – while remaining credible and objective. To achieve this objective we should correct students whenever and wherever it is need, AND praise students constructively and appropriately as well.

Correction always gets a bad rap when it is void of compassion. Being compassionate should be high on our list. Nevertheless, correction ought to connect current performance to standards and achievement. Therefore, correcting with compassion needs to be regarded as a major instructional tool.

People crave praise. This is important to our effectiveness. With praise comes recognition. If we overuse praise, we can devalue a person and weaken its motivational effect. Praise must be honest. Praise must be deserved. It must always be accompanied by advantages and benefits. It should be regarded as important and meaningful.

If you haven’t praised your students in the last two weeks, there are two possible problems. There is either a performance problem in your classroom – or your too stingy with your praise. Remember, you can always praise to improve performance. An example includes: A) “You’re doing very well with…” B) “Why not try this…” C) “I know you can do it!” – Notice I used the “praise (A)-correction (B)-praise (C)” technique.

In my experience I have never met a student who said “Enough praise already”. Praise is an effective tool. Students feed off of it, they perform for it. It motivates students to do better. It must be deserved. Dish it out at the right time, you will see results; dish it out at the wrong time, you could do more harm than good.

Praising our students meets their needs. That is why praise is a vital tool a teacher must know how to use honestly with each student. That’s why I always use a green pencil when I mark a paper.

What’s your story?

photo credit Susanna Farrar

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