A Bit of Praise

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 5.54.24 AMThe other day I went to hot yoga (where they heat the room to over 100°!) with a favorite instructor. One of the things I like about him is that he learns everyone’s name in the class by making a little cheat sheet as they sign in. During class, he gives feedback using your name. Some people might cringe with this explicit recognition, but when you’re ready to pass out from heat exhaustion and your muscles start to falter, hearing your name somehow helps.

He also gives everyone in the room praise at least once, if not more. I realize I’m in a hippie-feel-good-yoga room, but how does he do this when there are thirty people in the class? I don’t know why his instruction hit me more than usual the other day; maybe because I’ve slowly lost all patience at school, and I realize I hardly take the time to praise my students.

It’s not that I never praise kids; I do. I write positive things on papers, and sign their positive behavior cards (a  reward system at our school), and I make encouraging comments throughout class, yet I rarely make a comment of praise to each and every student. How difficult would it be to use their name with a unique, specific  praise during each and every class period? Would I really be able to do that in each class period? It seems silly that I work with a lot of students who struggle with school, rarely earn proficient, hardly ever earn “good” grades, and then I don’t make a conscious effort to praise each and every one of them everyday!!

One of the challenges with praise is that it needs to be specific and sincere, otherwise, it’s just fluff and the students know. And as I said, many of my students really struggle with learning, so there’s not always the obvious opportunity to praise. But I know I’m missing some opportunities, too.

There’s not much time during this school year, but I now have a mission to try to praise each student in each class at least once. It will be the perfect experiment before I say good-bye to another group.

Who do you need to praise?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “A Bit of Praise

  1. Cristina

    Part of the Boys Town Model of behavior modification is effective praise. Using a person’s name, offering specific praise for demonstration of a particular skill, are soooo helpful in modifying behavior for the better…we try to do this with our own children, but it is hard to remember sometimes…

    • I would love to know more about the Boys Town Model! And, I agree with you, in the moment (especially of “bad” behavior) it’s difficult to remember praise! I’m hoping more practice will make me better at it.

      Thanks so much for continuing to read the blog!!!!

  2. Gilberto Lobo

    DANA:

    ESTOY DE ACUERDO CONTIGO. CREO QUE EL RECONOCER LAS COSAS POSITIVAS DE UNA PERSONA, ES MUY VALIOSO.
    A VECES NOS COMPLICAMOS LA VIDA Y DEJAMOS DE VER LO QUE REALMENTE ES IMPORTANTE PARA TODOS. CREO QUE TODOS TIENEN ALGO POSITIVO.
    PUEDE SER TAN SIMPLE COMO SI VES QUE SE PEINARON DIFERENTE, DECIRLES QUE BONITO PEINADO O SI VES QUE HICIERON ALGUN TRABAJO MEJOR QUE LO QUE NORMALMENTE LO HACEN, HACERLES VER QUE LO HAS NOTADO, ETC. HAY MUCHAS MANERAS DE RECONOCER COSAS BUENAS EN LA GENTE. EL TIEMPO A VECES NOS QUITA ESA GRAN IDEA DE NUESTRAS MENTES.

    DANA:
    GRACIAS POR COMPARTIR TUS IDEAS.
    QUE PASES UNA BELLA TARDE JUNTO CON TUS TRES MOSQUETEROS
    GILBERTO

    • Estoy de acuerdo con usted, Sr. Lobo. Creo que cuando estamos tan presionados por el tiempo y con trabajo que parece “importante” es difícil de recordar las cosas sencillas que puede significar tanto. Como siempre, gracias por su apoyo con el blog!

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