Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Knowing/Encouragement
|“||The students who need encouragement the most are often the least likely to receive it.||”|
Encouragement is an essential element inside and outside the classroom. In the classroom encouragement should be practiced everyday. It is important for every child to feel encouraged even when they don't understand something that is taught. Every teacher should be equipped with the knowledge of knowing how to display encouragement towards his/her students to motivate them.
Surveying and Interviewing Students
It is very important to survey and interview students about their thoughts, opinions, and feelings about how the teacher is operating the class. This will help the teacher get a better idea of what is effective and what is not. Feedback from your students will help you understand how they are feeling about your class. In college the dean issues surveys at the end of every semester for each class to fill out. This survey helps the college know how effective the professors are and where they need to improve. In intermediate schools, elementary schools, and high schools this is important as well. Here are five questions that could be asked:
- What does encouragement mean to you?
- How often do your teachers make you feel encouraged on a scale 1-10 (1 being the lowest and 10 the highest)?
- What class are you most encouraged in? Why?
- How do you feel when you are encouraged?
- Do you think it is important to have your teachers be encouraging to their students?
Focus on Efforts of Students
When teachers focus more on the efforts made by their students rather than the improvements that need to be made, it is more encouraging to both the teacher and student. It is not only the teachers job to deliver information to the students but to encourage them when they are having trouble. Even though a teacher can get frustrated easily with his/her students progress; it is very important that the teacher substitutes that frustration with words of encouragement to keep the student from feeling like a failure. Encouragement in the classroom will build positive energy and thoughts to make the students performance better.
Six Important Points
There are six important points that should be given to every teacher to help shape their classrooms with encouragement. First, make relationships a priority; conduct respectful dialogue; practice encouragement; make decisions through classroom meetings; resolve conflicts and finally, have fun. There are also several points that should be left out of the classroom such as, setting very high expectations; focusing on mistakes to try to motivate; comparing your students; making pessimistic interpretations, and being too helpful. These five suggestion will help the classroom environment tremendously.
Distinguishing between Encouragement and Praise
A fine line is drawn between encouragement and praise; teachers should be able to distinguish the differences between the two of them. Praise stimulates rivalry and competition, fosters selfishness at the expense of others, focuses on quality of performance, and fosters failure. However, encouragement fosters acceptance of being imperfect, motivates student to not give up, fosters self-sufficiency and independence, and stimulates cooperation and contribution. An easy way to distinguish between praise and encouragement is to be able to identify praise comments and encouraging comments. An example of a general praise comment would be, "You are the best student I have ever had" or " You had the highest score on this exam in the class"; compared to an encouraging comment, " You are a fine student any teacher would appreciate and enjoy you" or" You did very well on this exam". The danger of giving praise to a student after everything he/she accomplishes puts them at a high risk of feeling like a failure if praise isn't rewarded to them in everything. Also, students who are often praised don't accomplish things for themselves, but for rewards or praise. It is critical to make sure you are using the correct phrases when encouraging your students. Encouragement and praise are easily confused, but it is important to encourage students to let them know that you are proud of their efforts even if they fail.
The Encouragement of Participation to Initiate Learning
It is important for teachers to use encouragement as a tool to create participation in students. Participation on an intrinsic or extrinsic level is essential to learning. As educators if we learn to use the tool of encouragement, it can become powerful in changing lives. The right encouragement at the right time can empower every student, but it is especially crucial for the “marginal nonparticipant disadvantaged students who are so profoundly at risk of school failure.” (Hickey) Encouragement gives a teacher the unique opportunity to motivate engagement through the development of “identity, standards, and values that motivate engagement squarely within the individual.” (Hickey) Daniel T. Hickey tells us in his article, “Engaged Participation versus Marginal Nonparticipation: A Stridently Sociocultural Approach to Achievement Motivation” that motivation is an essential element in the effectiveness of learning and teaching within the classroom.(Hickey) We need to understand that on an individual level students will be encouraged and motivated differently. We must recognize and accommodate these individual needs. We should be sure to encourage students on all levels, and ensure that our motivators are not geared for those students who are already academically advanced. Students who are intimidated by challenges we set may use the “ego-protecting task of disengagement”. (Hickey) If our reward systems set standards and rewards that seem unattainable to some students then, “Students who value such a reward, but do not think they can succeed are likely to disengage.” (Hickey) If we can manage encouragement properly we can take these students out of their comfort zones to encourage participation and ultimately teach the value of education for the sake of learning.
Encouragement Taking a Different Form
Encouragement takes many different forms. It is important to recognize that each day of teaching will not be sunshine and roses, there will be days in which, you, may be in a bad mood. “Many teachers deal with their moods privately and secretly. Other teachers reveal them openly to their children and hope for the best. Children often do recognize the teacher’s mood and respect it. As with other feelings, when they are admitted openly, children are helped to deal with their own varying moods.” Optimally, dealing with no moods or mood swings whether from you or from your students would lead to a great school year, but it is not realistic. Talking to your class, and letting them know what is going on is a good idea. However, maybe not every last detail is required but just giving them an idea of what is going on makes you more human and more on their level.
Encouragement can be used in all areas of life. At T.R. Simons Elementary School in Alabama, the lunchroom staff issues an award of the week to the class that uses manners during lunch. Frequently, the monitors are encouraging the students to use manners while eating and encourage those who are doing well. Every class eventually receives an award encouraging everybody as a whole. This is an effective way of encouraging students outside the classroom. Students not only feel better about their efforts in accomplishing something, but are more motivated to do it again later.
Multiple Choice Questions
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- Carlson, Sperry, and Mink meyer, 1992
- Greenberg, Herbert M. (1969). Teaching with Feeling, Compassion and Self-Awareness in the Classroom Today. (pp.168,169)
- Harris, Quinn. Interview. September 14 2006.
- Hitz, R. & Driscoll, A. (1989). Praise in the classroom. ERIC Digest. Retrieved September 16, 2006, from http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-9213/praise.htm
- Hickey, Daniel T.. "Engaged Participation versus Marginal Nonparticipation: A Stridently Sociocultural Approach to Achievement Motivation." The Elementary School Journal Vol. 103. No.4. Special Issue: New Directions in Motivation Research: Implications for Practice. Mar., 2003 401-429. 06 Apr. 2007. http://links.jstor.org/sici?=0013-5984%28200303%29103%3A4%3C401%3AEPVMNA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-5
- Starr, Linda. Education World. Encouraging Teacher Technology Use. Retrieved September 14, 2006. From http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech159.shtml
- Timohy, Evans (1997) The Tools of Encouragement. Reaching Today's Youth, vol. 1 Issue 2 winter 1997. pp. 10-14. http://www.cyc-net.org/cyc-online/cycol-0205-encouragement.html
- Yen, D.H. (2006, February 16). Praise versus encouragement, gratitude. Retrieved September 16, 2006, from http://www.noogenesis.com/malama/encouragement.html