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Tips of the trade 40. Praise staff and pupils

Praising pupils is the essence of good teaching and an area that is often overlooked. Praise boosts self-esteem; we all know how it feels to be told that what we are doing is good. Praise also defines pleasing behaviour and work and, therefore, provides a gateway to further good stuff.

My favourite method is to email or phone the parents of at least two children a week and share with them what it is that pleases me - whether it's work being handed in early or Johnny sitting in his seat for the entire tutor period. It takes time to find email addresses and phone numbers - perhaps this shows the need for an electronic database in all schools - but it's worth it. Not only is the positive feedback from parents delightful, but my relationship with the child is strengthened. I send the email via the child's form tutor and head of year for increased effect.

I carry sweets, motivation stickers and blank Post-it notes with me. If I see something good, I credit the child. The more unexpected, the better.

We can praise colleagues, too. You could say "Thank you" or "Much appreciated" when you meet the colleague who gave you that easy-to-use resource that saved you an hour of preparation, or who wrote a thoughtful report on a child. A positive atmosphere breeds success, as well as day-to-day sanity.

Jess Bowdler teaches English and drama at Warwick Academy, Bermuda. Have you any tips for new teachers?We pay pound;50 for all tips published.


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