Praising students in the classrooms is a tool that motivates students towards performing better in school. Acknowledging a student for a good job they have done in school is a path towards their educational achievement. Many teachers are often confused as to what to do to make their students put their effort in learning or to encourage them to conquer their fears about a subject or any topic. It is observed that the mindset a learner has about their intelligence takes a toll on their learning process. A student who thinks he or she is not smart enough often ends up not learning properly as opposed to someone who thinks they are smart. Thus, praising becomes a significant factor in the process of learning.
Four ways to praise students in the classroom
1. Saying phrases in praise of students –
Undoubtedly, the most common way of praising a student in the classroom is by giving positive remarks for students. This is perhaps the most cliche but one of the most recognized methods of honoring students. Some of these little words that form phrases can make a student’s day, and sometimes even their academic careers. Phrases like,” Outstanding Performance,” ” Your Project Is First Rate!”, “You have Got What It Takes” are some of the examples for praising students in a classroom. Encouraging words for students always motivates them to perform better.
2. Rewarding students –
Many times teachers adopt the strategy of rewarding students for their effort and hard work. The rewards may be materialistic like pens or notebooks.
Often schools do not encourage materialistic prizes. Therefore, teachers can give students other forms of rewards. The teacher can make a chart with the student's names on them, and whenever they do some excellent work, they can give the points that can be written on the chart. At the end of the semester or academic year, the one with the highest scores gets a class award or a certificate.
3. Recognizing their effort -
Teachers can read out aloud the written answers or an essay of a fellow student in the front of the class. This will allow students to know what kind of solutions are right while at the same time encourages the one whose paper is being read. This small gesture is an example of effective praise in the classroom. It proves that the teacher recognizes your little efforts in the classroom and encourages continuing the kind of work they do. In addition, the teacher can mark the good in everyone’s work and read them out in class. This will motivate everyone that they all are capable of more than what they have done.
4. Applaud loudly in class –
Many teachers make the student who put a lot of effort in some task get up and ask the entire class to applaud for him or her. This practice encourages the student to perform better and put in more effort the next time. At the same time, this motivates other fellow students to take his or her example and work harder to achieve something similar. This creates a proper completion among the students.
How to give effective praise in a classroom?
There are many ways to turn the praises into effective praises. There are many examples of effective recognition in the classroom. Given below are some points to make praises efficient.
1. Making eye contact –
To give students effective praise it is essential that the teacher make eye contact with them. The eye contact makes the recognition more meaningful and warm. In addition, the eye contact establishes a connection between the teacher and the student, suggesting that the praise is sincere. It assures the student that he or she truly deserved the praise.
2. Move close to the student -
If possible, it is always nice to move towards the student and then praise him or her. Go towards the student if it feels natural without making it seem too forced or weird. This gesture also is a way of giving effective praise in the classroom.
3. Smile –
Smile can lift anyone’s mood, especially when a teacher does so in recognition of a student’s work. This is the most basic and most comfortable way to connect with the student is by smiling. A smile will always get you back another smile. It will break the barrier between the teacher and the student. This also helps a student feel friendlier and ask any doubts they have regarding the subject or topic.
4. Pat on the back –
A pat on the back is perhaps one of the most encouraging gesture you can make. This assures the students that they have done well. However, some schools have rules regarding physical contact with students. If that is the case, you can always ask the student to pat his own back. This small gesture is enough to motivate him on his effort.
5. Offer a handshake –
Another subtle way of praising the student is to offer a handshake for his work. This is a pleasant way of connecting with the students. At the same time, it acknowledges them of their effort or a job well done. Offer a handshake when the student finishes a problem before time or finds a unique solution to a traditional problem. There are many occasions a student can be offered a handshake, and it is an excellent way of encouraging them.
6. Give specific praise -
Praise can be general praise or specific praise. Praise can be called general appreciation when the praise is directed to no individual in particular, or even so, the praise is very generic in nature. For example, “Good job, class” or “Well done, Mr. Smith.” However, specific praise is directed at a particular student and very specific in character. For example, “Ms. Gilly, You have written excellent answers. I see you have been burning the midnight oil”. This makes the student know what the teacher is praising them about and is very personal praise. Personal praise is always more efficient than generic appreciation.
7. Give praises with sincerity –
Teachers may think that their young students would not understand if praise is superficial or sincere. They are wrong because even children can know by your facial expression and voice if something you say is truly meaningful or not. Praising students with enthusiasm and sincerity is important. Such praise is much more efficient than an insincere one.
8. Praise the character –
It is always advised that the student’s character and not the talent is to be praised which will help to be beneficial in the long run. Teachers should consider their effort and not the inborn ability while praising. Such praise will only develop their character and what they are and not encourage them as to how they do the work. If a student is struggling with an assignment, praise their tenacity. If they did not give, upon a lengthy numerical, praise their hard work.
9. Praise the act that is praiseworthy –
The students should realize that it is the particular act that is being praised and not the person. For example, a teacher may say, “Linda, was very sweet as she helped me with the board work.” Here, Amy is being praised for her helpful act. However, this does not mean she has to help everyone everywhere. It is to make sure she does not feel pressurized to be the same always. The others, after hearing this should consider being helpful sometime in the future, but not compulsorily.
10. Make it subtle –
Loud and showy praising is not everybody’s piece of cake. While it may encourage many, there are chances of creating unhealthy competition among peers. Subtle and private praise is more personal and effective. Complementing a student in front of the whole class can come across as unauthentic sometimes. Though students are compared all the time, it should not be initiated on the part of a teacher.
11. Do not combine praise and criticism –
It is not advisable to combine praise and criticism because they both are opposite in their character. Avoid criticism as soon as you praise a student. You can always come back to your critical feedback later or vice-versa.
12. Do not give negative comments –
Never tell the students, “If you do not do this, then…” kind of sentences. These sentences are negative in nature. They are more discouraging then we realize. The praise should focus on positive than negative. Such sentences not only discourage students but also place fears in their minds. Thus making them nervous and not confident about themselves.
Effects of praise on student behavior in the classroom
Praise can have an outstanding impact on the student behavior in the classroom. Effective praises can improve the overall learning scenario of the classroom. Teachers should focus on praising students for their efforts and working strategies and not their intelligence.
1. Changing student’s belief –
Praising can directly affect the students' beliefs about the success and failure. Many students believe that their teachers’ feedback is the sole judgment of their ability. This is not always true. With proper guidance and effort, even an average student can learn to succeed. It becomes important that teachers realize the amazing power they hold to change their student's beliefs. If a teacher can help a student believe in himself or herself, the student can explore different horizons and reach new heights.
2. Helping students cope with failure –
Giving positive remarks for students in the classroom often help students overcome with setbacks and failures. Praising students leads to increased persistence and self-evaluation. This way of providing intrinsic motivation and resilience when students encounter obstacles prove to be a great way to encourage them to do better in the future. Praising students even for their failure gives a satisfaction to the students that their effort was not in vain. They can always make a comeback from the situation is what the teacher should say to them.
3. Encouraging learning –
It can be observed that many students consider a particular subject to be their favorite subject not because they have a great interest in the subject matter, but most of the time it is so because the subject was being taught by an excellent teacher. A good teacher is someone who encourages new ideas and always motivates students in the classroom. This motivation often in the form of praise. This entire experience leads to increased learning desire in students. Thus, ultimately leads to the higher achievement of the students.
4. Increased effort from students –
When teachers motivate and praise students for their effort, students will give even more for their effort. Even when the task may seem very difficult and demanding, they are likely not to give up. One effect of effective praising is that it helps students push their limits. They do not withdraw the effort and hard work but move forward with more conviction to solve the obstacle. Helping students give increased effort in their work is a by-product of praising students in the classroom.
5. Students seek challenges –
Those students who are praised in classrooms or in front of their peers often seek new challenges for themselves. They develop a sense of belief in them that they can do more, which the teachers who praised them instill in them. This allows students to set higher goals and aims for themselves. Praising students has proved to make students more open to new challenges and scenario. Their performance in such situations is highly commendable.
6. Look at failures as opportunities to learn –
Students who have been praised efficiently do not fear failure and setbacks. They view these as stepping-stones to success. They look at the failures as opportunities to learn new and more things. To them, that method or way in which they failed becomes one of the ways in which they do not succeed. Failures to them are like new learning experiences; they accept failure and look forward to trying again. They do not give up easily and keep the learning spirit high.
A fundamental part of teaching is efficiently praising students for their effort and hard work. Teachers often praise as a way to provide a supporting and friendly environment to students. Effective praise in the classroom benefits students and improves their academic excellence. Research tells that students who receive more praise are highly likely to be encouraged to work and succeed.