This article was written by Maloy Burman — the CEO and Managing Director of Premier Genie, a leader in STEM Education in Asia, Middle East, and Africa.
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A school, particularly the classroom, should always feel like a safe bubble for students. When young learners know that they’re in an environment wherein their thoughts and feelings are valued, receiving information and instruction is unhindered.
The Real Deal
In some cases, making the classroom a comfortable and safe haven for students can be neglected. Some teachers become too busy sticking to their lesson plan that they fail to see when unhealthy dynamics are emerging in class. In a culturally diverse classroom, at times, some teachers can miss both subtle and intentional acts of bullying, racism, heckling, and other behaviors that could ostracize people.
Allowing these behaviors to manifest in class can negatively affect the value of learning. Over time, students who are often on the receiving end of negative acts in the classroom would rather not go to school anymore. Meanwhile, others sustain lifetime damage to their self-confidence or personal belief in what they can accomplish.
What Can Be Done
If you’re an educator and it truly is your life’s commitment to make sure that every student placed in your care will have the drive to learn and grow as individuals, it’s crucial to make your classroom a true haven for learning. One strategy of doing so is by developing a culture of providing positive feedback.
How Does Positive Feedback Work?
Positive feedback is not about showering your students with praises all the time. According to University of Auckland professors Helen Timperley and John Hattie, it’s about “taking the time to provide learners with information on what exactly they did well, and what may still need improvement.” Essentially, it’s a careful assessment of a student’s efforts so he can improve and ultimately achieve his true objective.
It’s important to note, however, that feedback should be provided properly. Feedback must be delivered in a manner that would be received with an open heart and mind. Avoid giving feedback in a strict and corrective way because this can often be discouraging, and it can lead students to disengage in class.
Ways to Build a Culture of Positive Feedback in the Classroom/h2>
To make positive feedback work optimally, it’s imperative to involve everybody. Peer encouragement and opinion are just as important to students as feedback coming from teachers.
As a teacher, it’s your responsibility to develop the culture of positive feedback in your class. How?
1. Establish rules.
As mentioned earlier the classroom should be a safe bubble for your students so they can express themselves. However, set limitations on what they can say and how they can say things. Make it known to them that derogatory remarks will never be tolerated. Any type of attack on a classmate’s character or personality and the use of foul language are no-nos.
Setting up communication rules emphasizes the importance of being sensitive and the fact that more is accomplished by providing feedback the right way.
2. Regularly check up on everyone and how they’re dealing with schoolwork.
Always ask your students how they are feeling and inquire how they’re dealing with the load of classes. In doing so, you all can brainstorm solutions in class to make the situation less burdensome for them, especially if nothing can be done about the deadlines and other class concerns.
3. Focus on the problem more than the root of the problem, especially when some students are involved.
Most of the time, keeping the class atmosphere positive and productive is about directing focus more on what needs to be done instead of what caused a problematic situation to transpire.
By focusing more on the issue at hand, you prevent the blame game. You mitigate an otherwise frustrating situation, particularly for certain people in the class. Likewise, you get to present yourself as an example for your students to emulate in remaining kind and encouraging.
4. Brand problems as opportunities for more learning instead of setbacks.
This is an effective tactic in turning whiners into problem solvers. The change in perception always helps in developing the culture of positive feedback in the classroom.
When you present a problem as an exciting challenge, the way students approach it automatically changes. They become more creative, collaborative, and encouraging toward each other.
5. Offer remedial classes and get the help of high-performing students.
The beauty of this tactic is in its ability to encourage students to work with each other and develop a friendlier relationship. Their exchange of ideas will provide a better understanding and a kinder assessment of each other’s efforts. At the same time, you can tap into new methods of learning to make it more effective and exciting.
All in all, a culture of positive feedback in the classroom is crucial to learning. It can spark students’ desire to not only participate more in class but to actually develop a good relationship with each other as well.
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