teachers ought to be careful in the classroom with respect to affirming the children. i have often heard teachers remarking children- why don't you become as like your friend brajesh or else? usually they illustrate the attitude and behavior of the disiplined students or ideal students to the wrong doers or weak students. In fact, instead of affirming the children positively they may be affirmed negatively. there are several ways of positive affirmations that can foster the child development. for example; its good you get angry. i love your anger and so on.
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The affirmation of students is absolutely necessary and there are many reasons for this. First, it is important for the student to see him- or herself in a positive light. Students also come to class with a great many worries—either because of problems at home or problems with friends, bullies, etc. Positive interactions at school may be the most important and brightest part of a student's life. Affirmation allows students not only to trust in themselves, but also in trusting others. It gives a young person the opportunity to believe in what they can accomplish because someone has provided that youngster with validation. Can a person receive too much? Absolutely not. In school, children cannot imagine what they can be and do in the future—unless someone takes the time to praise their strengths and show compassion, understanding and a way to overcome obstacles, difficulties and shortcomings.
If a student is angry or uncooperative, causing disruptions, and/or dysfunctional, there is a good reason. A one-on-one discussion might be advantageous to the student. If a counselor is able to provide the teacher with background on the student's problem, it makes it easier to understand the student's circumstances. I don't believe a teachers should lie to a student, but find something that is worthy of praise: talents, a sense of humor, an ability to speak respectfully when calmly addressed. Acknowledging his or her value as a person, regardless of how aggravating or disruptive he/she may be is not wasted, as long as it is a sincere expression. Will he receive your comments gracefully, not necessarily, but they are no less necessary. I agree with others that praising anger is not something I would do: to survive in the world, a person needs to come to terms with anger and express it outside of the classroom: in therapy if needed. One can say something like, "I appreciate your frustration and understand that it can sometimes be tough to express yourself without anger, but it is important to find positive ways to handle your anger." Refer the youngster to guidance.
Affirm, affirm affirm!!!
I agree that children need affirmation, but they also need corrective discipline. It is not okay to disrupt the class; therefore, I do not affirm when students interrupt. I call it tough love when I discipline. Students need a balance. They expect to be disciplined when they interrupt. They are actually crying out for attention. Therefore, I agree that it is better to affirm and show approval for good behavior before the student can misbehave. I do try to show approval and affirmation for the smallest good deeds. I do believe a smile can go a long way in making a situation better. Many students are starving for affirmation. They will often act out to get any kind of attention they can get. Therefore, it makes sense to show approval and affirmation for good behavior in order to discourage ill behavior.
I would agree that affirmation has to be delivered in a culturally sensitive way. I have found that many Maori students do not like to be praised in front of others and this can make them as upset as publicly admonishing them. The compromise we reached was I write their name on the board when they have done something good- the objective every lesson is for everyone to get their names on the board. I don't say them out loud, but the class can see who is (or isn't) doing the right thing. I then speak to students individually - often after the lesson - when I want to give specific praise. Focussing on the positive and being genuine about it seems to work.
I think we all agree that it is not wise to compare children to others. As far as affirmation of all children I agree that this is important for all, especially those with the most challenging behaviors. I think that as teachers we have to find those challenging students in settings outside our classroom and begin building positive relationships there that will carry over into our classroom.
I strongly agree with post #3 as well. Comparisons and not knowing about home life are two factors teachers need to be aware of regarding the consequences. Cultural differences can be hard to understand as well. I remember a teacher telling me about teaching Asian students and the fact that they would not look him in the eye bothered him terribly. He would denounce them, something I did not agree with. Come to find out, it was a sign of respect, not defiance. He felt horrible after learning the truth.
It's a fine line - we need to be affirming to all children, but the kids can see through praise that is "over the top" - over-flowing affirmation for every piece of work or every positive action reduces all comments to the point of being meaningless in the eyes of the students.
Affirmation needs to be given in appropriate doses carefully spread out so that everyone gets their share. In the case of "challenging" students, that may mean commenting on actions or comments that would not rate an affirmation if displayed by other students. It comes from knowing the kids well enough to judge the needs of the individual - for some students, being told that they did a good job of remembering to raise their hands over the 5-minute period of one lesson may be a tremendous positive comment. Other students already have that behavior mastered and need to be recognized for other behaviors more appropriate to their levels of development and performance.
While there are cultural differences applicable to what is appropriate to affirm and what is not appropriate (for instance, all the answers above are from Americans while the Poster may not be American), there are some consistencies that apply across cultures.
The parents of one of the young people lost in the Andes (Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors) said we admire and respect our children. These are the key elements behind affirmation in the classroom or at home or anywhere: admire and respect the children. Love for a child is simple to feel and talk about (or maybe not these days [guys, what's up with that?!]), but one proof of love is in the admiration and respect given.
I agree strongly with #3 that it's never OK to compare a child with another. Because I teach in a small school, I often have siblings of previous students, and occasionally I have called a child by his or her older sibling's name. It's amazing to see how distressed the child looks, and I always apologize immediately if I make such a slip.
Using a student as an example to another student puts unreasonable stress on both students. It's easy enough to express what the desired behavior would be without putting anyone on the spot, and you are more likely to get the desired result because the directive is clearer. Additionally, we have no way of knowing how students perceive each other's behaviors. Sometimes a student who seems well behaved from the teacher's perspective is actually not being nice at all to other students when the teacher is not looking.
I would not tell a child that I love their anger, but I do tell students that I understand their reasons for anger; however I always add that they need to find appropriate ways to express it and work it out.
The best advice I ever received as a new teacher was when a child came into my classroom who was ill-behaved, ill-mannered, etc. I should think carefully about my words or actions, as I had no idea what type home the child came from, what emotional baggage he brought into the classroom, etc. Experience has proven this to be true. All children need understanding, and (as post number One put it quite appropriately) affirmation. I learned early on the value of a kind word to a student who appeared uninvolved or disruptive, normally spoken on a personal level. All students, even those who appear to have it all figured out, are troubled by self doubt and issues of self esteem. A kind word, a display of interest, even a smile can work wonders with students. One should not wait until a child displays anger to affirm; it should be done at every opportunity. Then, if/when a child becomes angry, one can offer a sympathetic ear rather than judgment.
One of the most dangerous things one can do is compare one child favorably (or unfavorably) to another. Many years ago, a number of children died in a tragic fire in a Chicago Catholic school. Afterwards, the nuns, in a well-intentioned attempt to explain the tragedy told the survivors that God only took the "good" children so they could go to heaven. The other kids were distressed--were they not good also? NEVER compare one child to another. Offer praise freely but not comparatively.
I'm not sure that I would tell a student that I'm glad they are angry, much less that I am glad about their bad behavior. Nevertheless, I have no argument with the basic point. To me, teachers who do this are doing it out of frustration and a lack of control. It is completely understandable that we wish our "bad" students would behave like our "good" ones. However, it is very counterproductive to actually say so, using names and saying "why can't you be more like..."
So, I agree with your point, but I think that it is difficult in many cases to affirm a student's behavior. We need to criticize or correct but, at the same time, to project the idea that we care about the individual student.
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