Excellence in
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Praise

I have recently read a number of articles about how we praise others. This has been some timely reading as our staff prepare to write school report comments and provide feedback to our students who have recently completed assessments and exams.

One article described praise as, “... the equivalent of giving someone a hug,” highlighting that we can actually feel better from receiving praise. Furthermore, research has indicated that receiving praise releases a hormone called oxytocin, which makes you feel good and makes you trust people more. Praise is therefore an important tool in developing a good working relationship with our students.

We are reminded in the Bible in Psalm 100 to also give praise to God. We do this for many reasons including to build our relationship with God. Psalm 100:5 says, “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Like many good things, too much praise for our students can be problematic. Praise needs to be authentic. It should be used to recognise achievement and not as a form of motivation.  Some studies have indicated that, “... inflated admiration, acclaim or applause can be detrimental to their learning and development.”

Unnecessary praise can impact our students’ perseverance skills when facing difficult tasks.  We are encouraged in the research to praise the efforts and accomplishments made by our students, rather than making statements about their ability such as, “You are so good at Maths.” Praise is particularly effective when recognising the development of new skills. This is particularly relevant in a school setting as our students are regularly challenged to develop new skills across all curriculum areas.

A number of articles have discussed the ratio of praise to corrective or negative feedback. Praising others builds a relationship where the individual is more likely to appropriately receive negative feedback. The research tends to indicate that people need to receive four to five positive interactions in order to be receptive to one piece of negative feedback. As staff and parents we are challenged to be on the lookout for opportunities to authentically praise our students.

We are therefore challenged to look for what others are doing well and to praise specific efforts and skills. I look forward to reading about how our students have progressed in their studies as I commence proofreading Midyear Reports this week.

Michael Bond
Principal

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