I’m plugging my way through Opening Minds by Peter H. Johnston and quite a few chapters are on feedback, praise, criticism, and dialogue with students.
As you probably know, my love language is words of affirmation. I love affirming and I love being affirmed. I have taken such pride in the positive reinforcement that I use with my students. I take pride in the feedback and the conversations that I have with my students.
Johnston writes about the differences between person oriented feedback and process oriented feedback. I can make little tweaks in my comments to make them more effective for my students and to create a greater sense of agency. A comment such as, “You did such a great job, Nate!” can be much more effective by saying, “I really like the way you used a feeling in your conclusion, Nate!” It takes the focus off of Nate and puts it on his process of writing. I can do that. I can do that easily! He also talks about the effects of praise and if we should praise at all. He makes some good points and I’m willing to try replacing the praise (ie: awesome job!) with positive feedback and see if it works in my classroom.
The other thing that stuck with me is the visualization of the class Johnston writes about in chapter 5. The students and the teacher are sitting around in a circle discussing a story about Jackie Robinson. The teacher is truly facilitating the discussion and encouraging her students to take part in the conversation between each other. I’ve been working on this during my small group lit circles and this is just the motivation that I needed to keep at it. I love being part of the discussion, but they (the students) don’t need me to lead it any longer. They can lead it for themselves!
I’m excited to teach tomorrow.