When was the last time someone gave you a real compliment. A sincere thank you or acknowledgement for the hard work you had put into a task. It’s not like we need the affirmation of others to warrant hard work, but isn’t it nice. Doesn’t it make you feel like getting back to work to further demonstrate that we are worthy of additional praise.
At the beginning of each year I work hard to find something positive about each student. Once I focus in on an attribute I use it to encourage the students as I greet them each morning. As the year progresses I use compliments in my discipline, both for a class running total that earns them parties and to increase discipline by rewarding positive behavior. Most students will do anything for your attention and respect. However, there are those few students every year that really challenge your ability to find something worthy of complimenting them for. When the best we can come up with is, “You are the noisiest and most irritating person in my life right now,” we have our work cut out for us.
This past year I was stopped by a teacher in the hall and she said, “Let me see your class list.” Upon showing her the list she proceeded to tell me all the low down on the students in my class. One particular student’s name set her off and she spent a few moments telling me all of the troubles she had faced with this child. As the school year began the child we had talked about exhibited the same depressed attitude and low self esteem. His class performance was mediocre and so I didn’t have the usual opportunities to praise him. One morning as I was greeting the students at the door I noticed his shirt touting a popular game and I complimented him by telling him how much I enjoyed the game as well. The student took his downcast eyes and looked at me and I saw him smile for the first time that year. The one positive comment opened the door to a successful year.
As we look to having successful years in our classes, develop better relationships in our families, and improve our friendships remember the power of praise. One positive comment can make a world of difference in someone’s life.
(I would love to hear about a compliment that has meant a great deal to you or to your students.)