Monday, January 10, 2011

Managing Behavior in Kindergarten (Part 3)

Ms. Dorothy - 
I see you recommending that I praise my students and children to eliminate negative behaviors.  I've been told NOT to praise because it makes the children dependent on your approval.  I wonder if you could talk more about this, or suggest some further reading on the topic?
- Teacher

I am so glad that you asked me to clarify this.  
Praise and encouragement are words that have been defined differently by educational experts.  

The goal of removing praise from your practice is not about eliminating encouragement, but about removing your valuation.  

There is a difference between telling your class "I see that  Marcus is sitting, ready to listen and learn."  and telling them "I like the way Marcus is sitting."  

The first is about Marcus and what Marcus is choosing to do.  It reinforces the rules, and offers a model for following the rules.  The second is is about you and what you like about Marcus.  It sets a child up as one that has won your favor, but doesn't make clear what others could do to gain recognition.  

The encouraging way that  you notice when students are demonstrating positive behaviors, and name those behaviors, supports learning.  Everyone wants to hear their name said, and every child loves to be an example of following the rules.  In that sense, it is praise.  

The goal should not be that you never praise children, but that you make what you acknowledge be about their actions, and not about you.  

Here is a chart that distinguishes one as praise and the other as encouragement.  By these definitions, I am a firm believer in encouragement as a tool for helping students develop a sense of agency and an internal locus of control.

To read more on the topic, check out the works of H. Stephen Glenn, Jane Nelsen,  Rudolf Dreikurs,  Peter H. Johnston,  and Alfie Kohn.  

1 comment:

  1. I just read your 3 part managing Kinder behavior and you did an awesome job! Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to share your knowledge!