"A teacher is there to make the students do better not feel better." - Unknown

As a teacher an important part of managing your classroom will be how you talk to your students. Many of us were raised by parents and had teachers who may have meant well, but who used the wrong kind of language. Those messages we received in childhood affected our performance through school and played a part in making us who we are today.

Praise such as "you're such a good student" or "you're so smart" is actually harmful. While it may seem normal - as I can certainly remember parents and teachers saying such things in the classroom, it is a kind of language that actually causes more harm than good. General statements like that or "you're such a good _____" lower a students' motivation.

Another way of looking at it is; if one student is considered smart how would the other students feel? Praise should be minimized and used only when specific. Here are some new thoughts on praise that have been inspired from scientific and psychological studies.

  • Praise kills effort. Kids who receive excessive praise give up easier.
  • Children 7 and older can spot false praise.
  • Praise distorts motivation. Kids start acting in a manner just to hear praise.
  • Excessively praised students become risk adverse.
  • Excessive praise causes an inability to commit because they will fear failure.
  • Praised students care more about rank and image - how they compare to others.
  • Students praised for intelligence are more likely to lie.
  • Students praised for intelligence can't deal with or learn from failure.
  • A person who grows up getting to frequent rewards will not have persistence, because they will quit when the rewards disappear.
  • Praise must be specific.
  • Difficulty causes growth.

Much of this information was inspired from the books NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children and Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. You can also learn more about praise and classroom management by taking the online TEFL course.

How about you? How has praise affected you?

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