Image courtesy of Evan Hahn
I was doing a practicum observation the other day and I asked the instructor what she would like me to focus on. She mentioned a couple of other items before mentioning how she gives feedback to the students. “I think I praise them too much,” she stated. It got me thinking, can we praise students “too much”?
Giving correction in the classroom is something that most teachers struggle with. How can we give students correction without making them feel discouraged? I find it interesting that we talk about give out too much correction, but we rarely discuss too much praise.
For myself, I believe that you can’t give too much praise, but you can give false praise. When a students does something well and we give praise, that student can usually sense whether that accolade is genuine or superfluous. I think the real issue isn’t whether we give too much praise, but instead we should be looking at the motives behind those words. I feel there are three main reasons for giving praise:
- to get the students to like us.
- to balance out the critiques.
- because we feel they have achieved something and we are happy for them.
There are some who believe we ‘coddle’ our students and pander to their every needs. True, that does happen sometimes. Once again, I believe that someone who takes the students’ needs truly to heart will be able to give the proper correction and praise. When a student makes progress, let them know. When they need a push, coax them along. I don’t feel we can give them too much praise, especially when we see them conquer their problems and come out on the other side victorious. I am not a cheerleader trying to get the crowd motivated, I am a teacher.