Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #16
Praise in public; criticize in private.
How would you want to be treated if you were in your students’ shoes?
It’s the golden rule of teaching.
Again, praise in public; criticize in private.
Praise in public can come in a number of ways: recognize a student’s effort in front of the class, Tweet at them, send them a note or postcard, send the principal a note and have him mention how well they are doing in your class, call home and brag them up to their parents . . .
On the other hand, it’s simple to criticize in private. I used to on rare occasions ask a student to step outside for a little tet-a-tet. But I find myself sending a text (a carefully worded text) to get at an issue. I’ve sent emails too. This is great because I will also include the principal or vice principal on the email too.
And one thing I try to do more often is after I criticize a student, before ten class days have elapsed, I will try to praise them. The trick is it has to genuine praise. So if I send a text to a student who has been slacking on revising his work, I will praise them later on when they have taken my criticism to heart and applied it to their writing. I might pull up part of their essay and share it with the class.
It all gets back to something my football coach told me once when I asked him if I ever did anything right since he was constantly criticizing me and calling me out.
He said, “When I stop yelling at you, that is when you have to worry. That means I’ve given up on you.”
Since that moment, I’ve always viewed criticism in a different light.