#TipforTuesday - Varying Praise
We all know it’s important to praise our Breadies during sessions - praise not only makes the Bready feel happy when getting something right but also boosts confidence and helps the Bready remain focused and work effectively. One thing you may not consider whilst teaching is the importance of varying praise, i.e making sure your praise is adequate and equal to what the Bready has done and making sure you are praising well and at the right time. We’ve put together a few tips and observations to help your Bready, creating a happy and comfortable environment for them to learn in!
1. Explaining what the Bready did well.
One vitally important element of praise is making sure the Bready knows what it is they’re being praised for. If you’re looking at a homework task, be very specific! It’s not enough to say simply ‘well done!’ but perhaps ‘Well done! Your homework passage about a happy memory contained many good adjectives!’ or perhaps pinpoint something they have improved on, ‘you’re getting the hang of rhyming now!’. If the first case, your Bready will feel more confident because they feel they understand the language rule fully an in the second they will know that their improvement is something that you, the Buddy and their figure of authority, has noticed. In both cases it spurs the Bready on to try harder to impress you in those areas.
2. Make sure to change the phrases and actions you use whilst giving praise.
In doing this you may make the praise less effective as it becomes something repetitive and that the Bready comes to expect. If you use ‘well done!’ a lot, perhaps throw in the odd ‘super!’ or ‘excellent!’. This makes the praise less static and more like you’re invested in the lesson - it could also help expand the Bready’s vocabulary!
Perhaps most importantly is praising the effort that goes into the work more than the answer itself. If a student is really trying to understand but is struggling a little, make sure to really praise the hard work. If a student understands something easily, praise them for getting it right but not too over the top, this could come across as over the top.
Have fun with the praise! If you’re doing an activity where the Bready is looking for the right answers, you could clap or punch the air to build the excitement in the class. A thumbs up is always good but maybe sometimes throw in a high 5 so the Bready experiences different types of praise.
We covered tone of voice in last week’s #tipfortuesday and it is arguably most important when looking at praise. Varying the tone of your voice whilst giving praise - particularly with younger Breadies - helps them understand your caring about their correct answer or improvement. If you’re voice is monotonous or sounds a little bored, their not going to believe in your praise. It also means you can change the tone accordingly with the level of praise, if they finally understand a grammar rule and use it correctly after a period of time, your tone of voice should be more excitable than if its something they’re already confident with.
3. Use the trophies in the classroom wisely.
The trophies in the classroom can be an excellent way to praise your Bready. The trophy counter allows the Bready to hoard their praise and at the end of the session can quantify their results of the class. It can also make the session seem more like a fun game which, in the age of increased technology, can spur the Bready to become competitive with themselves to get better. However, be careful not to over use them. The trophies feel psychologically like a real prize for the Bready - can you remember at school getting stickers or badges for your good work? Well this is the virtual sticker for them! If they receive a trophy for everything they get right, the trophy loses its value and doesn’t become exciting anymore, save the trophies for something a little challenging for the Bready! An example would be not giving a trophy for every correct answer in an activity but when the whole activity is completed. Or, if they have struggled with something, really celebrating the effort they put into getting it right.
Sometimes if you have a Bready who is a little distracted it can be an good way to bring back their attention - “if you can think of five parts of a book I will give you a trophy”. This can turn the lesson into challenge and they have to work for the reward!
4. Don’t overpraise.
This can seem a little mean but too much praise can make a student desensitised to it and lower their motivation to work hard. Don’t worry though, studies have suggested that the right level of praise is about 6 times per 15 minutes which - in a half an hour session is plenty!
5. Try to understand individual Bready’s needs!
Don’t forget that every Bready will have a different set of needs surrounding praise. For some Breadies, a lot of praise helps them come out of their shells and answer more questions, for others they will already have the confidence to answer and receive praise only when they have answered correctly. As a teacher you can assess what works best for your Bready and how to celebrate their good work. This may seem difficult if you’ve got a Bready for the first time but try and assess in the first few minutes of the session what they are like. If they are a normal Bready look back over notes to find out whether they are shy or outgoing, confident or unsure.
According to recent studies, praise is surprisingly under used within the classroom so it is important to consider and appraise your own teaching style to make sure you include enough! Praise is a wonderful thing and the importance of it should not be underestimated - we hope that you as Buddies also feel like you receive varied praise!
How do you like to praise your Breadies? We’d love to hear from you - comment below!