I urge teachers, administrators, parents, and loved ones to provide positive feedback and catch others doing great things, rather than point out other people’s weaknesses. While there is a time and a place to receive constructive criticism, more often than not, I find that people are more receptive to positive genuine and specific feedback than to any form of criticism.
When classroom management plans are created, consequences are naturally a part of the conversation. What will happen if a rule is broken? What if a behavior contract fails, what’s the next step? While it’s valuable to think about what might happen if someone doesn’t follow expectations, I think it’s more important to recognize those who do meet and go beyond expectations.
As this was our first week back at school, I noticed a few students, who in the past struggled with meeting expectations, being incredibly focused, kind, and attentive. I had to recognize and applaud their behavior. I wanted those students to know that I noticed their efforts. I wanted their parents to know that their children are highly capable of being rock stars in the classroom. And so, I decided to email families and let them know how impressed I was with those particular students. The response I received was wonderful. The parents were happy to hear great news. One parent in particular wrote me: “This is the best email I've read in a long time!”
It’s also important to express positive feedback to the person directly. When I told one of my students how impressed I was with his focus, his willingness to help others, and his positive contributions, he responded with a giant smile. He could tell I meant every word and he was happy to receive my genuine compliment. I already know our connection has become stronger because of that moment and I look forward to my next class with that student.
I have decided to reach out to students and parents on a regular basis and express the great work I’m seeing in my classroom.
When providing positive feedback, I encourage you to remember three things:
1. Be genuine. The feedback you’re sharing needs to be true and from the heart. You truly need to feel proud of what you’re noticing.
2. Be specific. Make sure to share what exactly went well. What particular behaviors stood out to you as being exceptional? What success did that student experience in class?
3. Be immediate. When giving positive feedback, make sure to reach out the same day, if possible. If too much time has passed, you’ve lost your opportunity for the positive feedback to really hit home.