November 23, 2015
How to Use Praise to Enhance Learning – Guest Post from Debbie Carona
This guest post from Debbie Carona (@debbiecarona) first appeared on Daily Genius.About one and a half years ago, I fell, broke my foot, and had surgery to repair it. Two weeks later, I fellagain and tore my Achilles tendon. Lucky me! I earned even more surgery and a longer recovery. I don’t mind admitting that I was really discouraged as I looked at the reality of living with my son, wonderful daughter-in-law and their four kids for a month, the need for someone drive me around for several months, and a year before I would be walking smoothly. The point of this sad story isn’t to demonstrate my grace and basic walking skills. It is to share how I was reminded of an important lesson.
THE POWER OF PRAISEI spent over a year in physical therapy and developed a close working relationship with my physical therapist, Jessica. At some point, I realized that I was willing to work as hard as I could to receive a single word of praise from her. I would do my foot exercises at home and come into PT saying, “Watch what I can do!” Jessica continued to praise and encourage me throughout my healing. Each time we reevaluated my progress, she showed me the degree of movement I previously had and then recorded my new stats. In essence, she backed up her praise with documentation in order to make it even more meaningful.
HOW PRAISE RELATES TO TEACHINGOnce I realized the impact of Jessica’s words, I began to think about the similarities between a PT with a patient and a teacher with a student. I began asking myself these questions: Was I praising each step achild took to reach a bigger goal? Did I back up my praise with concrete examples? Would my words inspire my students?
“Students love praise, and it often transcends into feelings of self-worth, intelligence, and joy.”- Avra Robinson