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SENsational impact: Praise be!

Posted by Bernie Callanan on Wednesday, 1 August 2018
Bernie Callanan
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Educators are forever encouraged to create a climate of praise within their classroom. A positive sentiment which needs to be personalised in the same way teaching methods are. 

Vocal students in the room may prefer recognition of effort in a public way so all can be aware of their success, whilst for other students this might be the last thing they want and may encourage disengagement.

You'll learn what approaches work for each student as you build relationships with them. A quick way to find out what works is to ask them how they like to be recognised for their efforts. Perhaps this discussion is enough, or maybe something extra is needed. 


"A positive phone call benefits you in many ways."

Often students love a phone call home. In my experience phone calls home significantly reduce the amount of time needed to organise sanctions and negative phone calls home.

A positive phone call home can be done in less than 60 seconds, negative phone calls tend to take much longer! In an ideal world our first discussions with a parent/carer should be about positive things, especially if we know the student has a challenging reputation.

A positive phone call benefits you in many ways. For example, if issues arise later in the year, parents and carers know that you are someone who recognises the efforts of their young person and will likely take your concerns much more seriously. 

You may think it appropriate to go one step further and invite parents/carers in for a meeting to show them the great work their young person has been doing.

Have their tutor or head of year be present too. The meeting needn't take long, 5-10 minutes will suffice, but it will likely be appreciated for months to come.


"Noticing the small things for the hard to reach students will help you to build a connection."


What we expect as a minimum for most, others should receive recognition and praise when achieved.  For some students getting into school or your lesson is incredibly difficult. 'Nice to see you' works better than 'why are you late?!'. Noticing the small things for the hard to reach students will help you to build a connection. 

When appropriate, show you held a student in mind. This might be when you saw on the news that Harry Kane scored a hat-trick; perhaps you thought of an avid Spurs fan you teach. Or maybe you heard an amazing singer busking who reminded you of a wonderful performer in school.

Teachers are often reminded of their students, sharing these thoughts with our students can help them feel valued and shows that we consider them beyond the four walls of the classroom.

Lastly, be genuine and consistent in your recognition and praise. If students believe your interest is sincere they'll more likely respond positively. Some students will take longer to respond, which is where the consistency comes in. 


About our Community Expert


Bernie Callanan


Over 10 years of SEN experience in a number of settings. Developed whole-school approaches to ensure students with SEN are catered with the support they need.

Placing the student with SEN at the heart of all decisions made regarding their education, whilst liaising with all stakeholders involved.

Bernie is our education expert who provides SEN related content

Topics: Education


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