Today I’m excited to have my real-life teaching friend Callie on the blog! She’s here to share her thoughts on giving meaningful feedback to students. You’ll learn about how she uses both “praise points” and “teaching points” to help her students grow and to build strong student relationships.
I remember doing my student teaching in a second grade classroom and my cooperating teacher having a list taped to her desk. On it consisted of at least 100 ways to say, “Good Job” without saying, “Good Job”.
Being the outstanding mentor that she was, she willingly gave me a copy. I, in turn, taped onto MY desk at my first teaching job. I have to admit, it was helpful to have a concrete resource to turn to those first few years of getting some confidence under my belt.
A few years into my career, I decided to go back to school to obtain my masters degree as a reading specialist. It wasn’t until those masters classes that I realized how to give positive, constructive feedback to my students.
While working toward my reading specialist degree, I had several classes on conferencing with my students. Conferencing was a way for me to get to know my students on a more personal level while helping them grow academically through individual instruction. It was through conferencing that I learned about giving meaningful feedback to students.
During our conference – whether it be writing or reading – I was always looking for things or strategies that the students were doing WELL. I made notes of what I liked that they were doing and made it a point to tell them specifically what I liked.
For example, if a student was reading a story and made a mistake but self-corrected, I made a note of that. Then when the child was finished with the page or at a stopping point, I would make sure to point out that I thought it was so cool that he or she went back to self-correct on that word because THAT’S what good readers do! Seeing the sparkle in their eyes was enough to know THIS was the way teaching was supposed to be. In response then, the student was always willing to work on whatever I would suggest needed fixing if I gave a specific, positive praise. I called this a “praise point”.
My “teaching point”, or whatever skill or strategy I needed my kiddos to practice, came much more easily if I had given the praise point beforehand.
Most of the time, my teaching point came from something that the student was missing while we were conferencing. For instance, if the child was skipping over unknown words, without using the appropriate reading strategies, that would be my teaching point.
I might say something specific like, “I loved how you went back and self-corrected the word trunk! You first read the word as trick, but could tell that didn’t fit in the sentence, so you went back and corrected it! That is what good readers do!! Let’s take a look at this word (pointing to begin). Read this word to me once more.”
If the child reads it correctly, tell them what they read it as to start with. If they still misread the word, help them use strategies to fix their mistakes. Again, I’d make sure to talk about my praise point first, then bring up the teaching point.
The student loved so much to have that positive feedback, that I saw great success with them working on the teaching point outside of our conference. They knew that the next time we would conference, that is something I’d be looking for while they were reading.
Conferencing with teaching and praise points made so much more sense and I got such good results because of it! I had an awesome connection with my students on a personal level and was able to help them grow academically by using their individual needs. It was a win, win situation for all! This is why giving meaningful feedback to students is so important!
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