How To Provide Positive Feedback To Your Students

For teachers, it is essential to make the process of providing feedback with a positive, or at least a neutral, learning experience for the student. Why is it that some teachers think that giving feedback must be negative and corrective? There is a false belief that such feedback is the only way a student will learn. This is not true at all!

So, what exactly is feedback? Feedback is any response from a teacher in regard to a student’s performance or behaviour. It can be verbal, written or gestural. The purpose of feedback in the learning process is to improve a student’s performance – definitely not put a damper on it. The ultimate goal of feedback is to provide students with an “I can do this!” attitude.

Studies have shown that when feedback is predominately negative, it can discourage student effort and achievement. Being a teacher, most of the time it is easy to give encouraging, positive feedback. However, other times that you have to dig deep to find an appropriate feedback response that will not discourage a student’s learning. This is where the good teachers, the ones students remember forever in a positive light, separate themselves from the others.

A teacher has the distinct responsibility to nurture a student’s learning and to provide feedback in such a manner that the student does not leave the classroom feeling defeated. We at Teacherr have built a list of great tips to provide positive, encouraging feedback to your students.

Feedback Should Be Educative

Providing feedback means giving students an explanation of what they are doing correctly and incorrectly. However, the focus should be based essentially on what the students are doing right. It is most beneficial to a student’s learning when they are provided with an explanation and example as to what is accurate and inaccurate about their work.

Give Feedback In A Timely Manner

When student feedback is given immediately after showing proof of learning, the student responds positively and remembers the experience about what is being learned in a confident manner. If we wait too long to give comments, the moment is lost and the student might not connect it with the action.

Be Sensitive To The Individual Needs Of The Student

It is vital that we take into consideration each individual when giving feedback. Classrooms are full of diverse learners. Some students need to be nudged to achieve higher and other needs to be handled very gently so as not to discourage learning and damage self-esteem. A balance between not wanting to hurt a student’s feelings and providing proper encouragement is essential.

Reference A Specific Skill/Knowledge 

It is important while critiquing a student that you focus on a specific skill. Remarking that the entire project/presentation was inferior may shatter the student’s confidence. Instead, try focusing on one aspect – for example, the presentation skills of the student. Focusing on a specific skill also allows makes it easier for the student in rectifying it.

Have One-On-One Interaction

Having a one-on-one meeting with a student is one of the most effective means of providing feedback. The student will look forward to having the attention. It also allows the opportunity to ask any necessary questions. Such an interaction should be generally optimistic, as this will encourage the student to look forward to the next.

Keep Track Of Student Progress

Keep a section of a notebook for each student. Write daily or weekly, dated comments about each student when necessary. Keep track of the good questions the student asks, behavioural issues, areas for improvement, test scores etc. Of course, this requires a lot of essential time management, but when it is time to conference with a student or parent, you’ll be ready to go.

Return Tests, Papers Or Comment Cards At The Beginning Of Class

This is a simple task. Returning papers and tests at the beginning of class, rather than at the end, allows students to ask necessary questions. It additionally helps them to hold a relevant discussion. A student can voice his doubts on the subject while you can show them where their mistakes lie.

Give Genuine Praise

Students are quick to figure out which teachers use meaningless praise to win approval. If you are constantly telling your students “Good Job” or “Nice Work”, over time, these words become meaningless. Make a big deal out of a student’s exceptional performance. Go above and beyond with the encouragement and praise if you are thrilled with a student’s recent on-task behaviours. However, make sure that this praise does not affect other students in the class negatively.

Positive responses form the backbone of the learning relationship between teacher and student. It allows for learning to happen in the most efficient way possible. Always remember that this seemingly insignificant positive feedback can help in the formation of the leaders of tomorrow.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! If you’re looking for more articles on teacher-student dynamics, you’ll enjoy our pieces on the concept of give-and-take as well as the importance of feedback loops.

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