Saturday, April 6, 2013

Give Attention and Specific Praise

One of the most powerful things I see in my work coaching teachers of young children, is how when a teacher learns to give specific praise to students, their students feel so noticed.  We all appreciate praise, but when we give specific praise to children, it really does make them feel amazing.  The difficult thing is to make our praise specific.  Saying, "Wow, you were so careful with your paintbrush!  You made a thin blue line here and a green curve here!"makes a child feel very noticed and proud of her work.  But saying, "Great job, you're a wonderful artist!" can make a child think--"Well, I kind of had a messy spot over there, and I'm not always a great artist."
in Flanna's classroom checking out her science journal

sorting living versus nonliving things
I tried to remember that when Robi and I visited Flannery's school early Thursday morning for her "Celebration of Learning" for their kindergarten spring learning expedition "Everything is Connected."  They learned about rocks and soil, plants & life cycles, and living/nonliving things.  The kindergarteners performed several songs related to their expedition, then took us on a hallway tour and showed off their science journals and classroom displays.  They were planning to tour the garden with us, but the rain nixed that.  I tried to give her specific praise, and not just to say, "That's great!" to everything I saw, which was my instinct, because everything really was great!

Anyway, it was a wonderful little program, and the children all seemed to be so proud of their learning!  I think expeditionary learning has been a great fit for Flannery, and I'm glad that learning has been fun for her in her kindergarten class.  I think that one benefit of having little gatherings and assemblies and "learning celebrations" is that it creates time and space for our children to feel noticed and to have attention focused on the work and learning they are doing.  Kudos to Flanna's school for understanding that!

 living versus nonliving things collages 

Flanna's daffodil 

Mealworms -  kindergarten studied compost and worms

Flanna's soil sample from winter break -- Hers was from Orlando

Flanna's rabbit on display on the art bulletin board of "living things"
What were you proud of as a child?

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