I sometimes get questions about acknowledging students, particularly as it relates to praise. This is an important part of creating a positive behavioral environment for your class. Interestingly, teachers who use a higher ratio of praise to correction, and are specific when they do so (e.g., I like the way you are working so hard on this project), reported less fatigue and more efficacy towards their teaching.
From a positive behavior support perspective – getting a count of teachers’ positive to negative feedback ratio can be really helpful (for their learning). Not for accountability, but for growth. The goal is about 4 positives statements to every 1 correction. There are a few steps you can take to improve your performance.
Get clear on why you need to acknowledge. There are two very helpful books about the need for feedback and positive outcomes following new behaviors. I would suggest reading The Power of Habit and Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Both books help the reader connect how behavior it is effected by the outcomes it produces. Rewards and acknowledgment can include tangible objects, but they also include verbal praise.
Self-assess your classroom management approach. This tool on classroom management is a great checklist teachers can use to track their positive to negative feedback for their students. Teachers also can self-assess their overall level of effective classroom management, including praise.
Start counting. One effective strategy is to use a golf counter or move paper clips from one pocket to another as you interact with your students. You can graph your progress over time. They key here is you need to do something with your data to make them meaning to you.
Ask a student. One teacher was concerned she would not have time to record her own behavior. She asked a student to watch her for 20 minutes and keep track of her positive to corrective statements with tally marks. The teacher really valued the feedback from the student and was able to reflect on her instruction.
These are a just few ideas. I have written another blog here about acknowledgment as well. I would really love to hear about ways you are providing effective acknowledgment through praise to your students. Please take a moment to leave a comment or idea on my website.