One student in class today was factorising quadratic equations and was struggling, so I showed him the ‘Lizzie’ method http://tinyurl.com/2u6funv. He is one of the cleverer students and appreciates that there are often different ways to solve problems. He could also see that I was largely working it out as I was going along (well, I did tell him that this was the case), but as we approached the answer, he proclaimed:
“sir, you are a beast beyond belief”
I smiled to myself. I had managed to ‘do it’ and help him but, also, I had received praise from a student. It doesn’t happen very often, but reminds me of my belief that it is not the nature of the praise that is important – more the fact that there is an acknowledgement of ‘doing good’.
Many argue that some students don’t appreciate praise. However, I believe that while it may not be cool to receive praise, particularly in front of peers, the recognition (and confirmation) is hugely appreciated – even if only in secret. I also don’t believe the ‘size’ of the praise matters. While a monetary reward acts as a carrot to pull, in the same way that a prison sentence acts as a stick to push, a simple ‘merit’ or ‘demerit’ is enough to provide confirmation of good or bad. As such, my lessons tend to be full of lots of relatively meaningless (but well intentioned) positives (credits/good comments/commendations/merits etc.) and negatives (verbal and visual warnings).
My success rate is determined by my consistency of application.