Be Nice

Thursday, October 17, 2013
your curly co conspirator, Suzanne

Profound, right?  Well, apparently it's noteworthy enough to be one of the Fun 5.  Of course the fancy lingo there is recognize and reinforce (A.K.A be nice).  

This is not a post about how praise must be timely and specific.  It should, but you already know that.  Instead, I've simply got a reading induced musing and an idea from my curly classroom for ya.

I read an article recently (that I now can't find again for the life of me) that delved into the growth mindset.  As teachers, we promote or discourage this mindset in our praise.  Words like "smart", "good", and "right", promote a fixed mindset.  Students that are not on the receiving end of these affirmations assume that these students have always been "smart, "good", and "right", and that they, on the flip side, are a failure or unable to achieve success.  

Being more mindful in our praise can encourage all learners and spur them on to continued success.  A growth mindset supports the belief that intelligence can be developed.  Growth promoting affirmations focus on the steps that were taken and effort put forth to achieve success.  With a growth mindset, praise sounds like:

  • That looks like it must have taken a lot of effort.  
  • I like the way you stuck with that. 
  • How did you figure that out?

My favorite way to praise students is a bit time consuming but has a lasting impact.  Once a semester (in reality, it happens about once a year), I aim to write my students a handwritten note that tells them What I Like About You (well, them).  I know, I know! I warned you it was a chore.  However, students really appreciate the effort.  It is not the norm.  Who writes handwritten notes anymore? (This is fodder for another post another time.)  But it never fails to make me smile when I see one of my notes riding around in a student's binder or a mom that tells me that their student came home and shared their note with the family.  

Ways to make this workable:
Every student does not have to received their note on the same day.  Work to have one class period done each week.  If you're in a co-teaching model, share the wealth and knock them out twice as fast.  

Download and use the WILAY postcard.  You can copy them on colored card stock or print them in color on Avery postcards.  The writing space only allows you get in 2-3 sentences.  Make it brief and specific to the student.  You can't go on and on even if you wanted to.  Download your copy of the WILAY postcard here.  

Do I play "What I Like About You" by The Romantics while distributing the cards?  I think we all know the answer to that.

Check out the rest of our Fun 5 series here:

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