Psychologists have researched for years to try and find a perfect ratio of number of positive to negative comments. These researchers have investigated the power of positive comments at work places, in marriages, and at schools. It was interesting to find that many researchers agree on a ratio of around 5 positive comments to every 1 negative comment. With more negative comments, people tend to feel discouraged and undervalued. I find this so interesting because I would say that this ratio needs to be even higher for children and young adults in schools. That means that teachers should be giving at least 5 positive and kind words of encouragement for every 1 negative thing they say. Below are some simple tips for incorporating more positive into your classroom:
1. Be specific. “You did a great job on that” doesn’t really tell the student anything. Instead, you can say something like, “I really like the way you took the last 5 minutes to reread your response and edit it. That was a great use of time”. You help that student feel good about themselves while shaping positive learning behaviors.
2. Give oral and written positive feedback. Oral feedback is great but sometimes I need time to think about how to give the best feedback. I love giving written feedback on assessments, math journals, and reading/writing journals. Then, when I hand back assignments, I make sure to give students time to “review my comments”.
3. Use your positive words to help drive positive classroom management. “I really like the way that Alex took out her reading book and read silently when she finished her quiz”. A comment like that and you’ll be amazed at how many students follow suit. It helps make one student a model, as well. Some students need to visually see what the should be doing, and this is a great opportunity for that.