Reports are being generated and soon every student will be faced with comments and grades that summarise their first semester’s efforts and achievements.
They will feel proud of much written about them, but maybe not about all. How they perceive this report could influence their efforts in the next semester and beyond, and their view on their ability to continually progress and improve.
The way we praise and support our children when they receive their report could build their confidence and encourage them, motivating them to continue to learn, however, it could also undermine their confidence and resilience which is not a nice thought at all.
What we say is what is most important. In ‘6 Effective Characteristics of Effective Praise’ Barbara Blackburn writes that praise should compliment effort and quality work, and that related discussions should include reflection to ensure that we can praise specific steps or actions students took to achieve the quality outcome. We should ask sincere questions, listen with attention and show true appreciation. Praise could be done in private or in front of others (siblings, grandparents and family), depending on what is appropriate for the student. It could be verbal or in addition, little notes or cards which are often much appreciated by students and can become keepsakes. We should guard against encouraging a dependence on external rewards, but help students to develop the ability to work for the intrinsic reward of feeling pride in their efforts and related achievement.
It is more difficult when a student is disappointed in the report they receive, even if they know it is a reflection of the effort they put in during the semester. Negative ‘scripts’ might be playing in their head with messages of inadequacy and failure.
The same author, Barbara Blackburn, writes about how student resilience could be strengthened. Authentic communication and active listening are again mentioned as being very important, and true empathy, that flows from being interested in what the student really feels and believes, she says, will help them to listen to positive words and drive away those negative ‘scripts’ in their heads.
Students need to feel appreciated and loved for being unique people and individuals; they should be given the opportunity to set realistic goals for themselves and plan for the future with guidance and hope.
Mrs Antoinette Wilson
Head of Primary