More Than Just “Good Job!”
You’ve just done a great job on a project for your school. You hope that your work is appreciated by your principal. How do you hope your principal acknowledges your success?
a) not at all
b) a note in your mailbox
c) in a private conversation
d) in a staff meeting
e) at a district-wide meeting, with a trophy and balloons
Your answer to this may depend on whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert! The thought of all eyes on you at a district meeting could cause you terror or joy. Even being the focus of attention in a staff meeting could make you uncomfortable or could charge you up and make you want to do more for your school. A savvy principal might alter how they provide positive feedback to staff members depending on their personal knowledge of each teacher. We’d like to suggest that a savvy teacher might also need to alter how they offer their students positive feedback, depending on their knowledge of each student.
From the Introvert: Susan’s Perspective
My answer to the above question is “b” or “c.” Luckily, I’ve never done anything trophy-worthy, but if I had, I think I’d ask to have it mailed to me. I bet the introverts among you can relate. And I bet we have plenty of students in our classrooms who could relate as well.
How might teachers recognize their introverted students for work well done? Are there ways to praise without the angst? Here are a few suggestions:
- Slip them a note. Tell them in writing what you noticed about their work. I guarantee that note will end up on their refrigerator or bulletin board at home. They will appreciate that they can return to those words when they want to savor the message again.
- Give them some nonverbals. A thumbs up. A nod of the head. A fist bump. Introverts will appreciate these subtle signs of appreciation for their efforts. And all eyes in the class won’t turn toward them.
- Praise them away from groups of other students.
- Praise the specific features of their work, not them personally. Peter Johnston (our teacher language guru) calls it person-praise when the praise focuses on the student, rather than the work or the effort. It can feel more like judgment. Keep the focus on what was excellent in the work or in the attempt. If not, your student may feel like when their work isn’t outstanding, you may judge them as a person.
I hope you find some of these ideas helpful. If you do, please don’t mention it to me in public. I’d rather you send me a note or leave a kind comment. : )
From The Extrovert: Johnny’s Perspective
Positive feedback is easily one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. It can be used in many different ways and have truly positive or negative outcomes. You already know what feedback your students need, and giving the right kind of feedback to your introverted and extroverted students will ensure it is heard. My first principal told me I didn’t want to be remembered as the “Good Job!” man and I should try to recognize my students in different positive ways to point out their behaviors.
As an extrovert, I like to receive feedback in a multitude of ways. From your traditional written feedback, to larger scale feedback in public. I would venture to say it means more to me when I am recognized for going above and beyond in front of a crowd of people. The stimulation my brain gets from being surrounded by others is amplified when receiving feedback. Research has shown that extroverts need and seek outside stimuli in order to function effectively- bringing that into feedback just makes sense.
It’s not to say that all feedback has to be a large group effort, just that it is helpful. There may be a challenge for introverted teachers delivering feedback in this way. It may not make sense, or feel comfortable. Introverted teachers could use this as an opportunity to stretch themselves and give more public feedback rather than written recognition or one-on-one feedback. Show your appreciation openly for your extroverts, they will love you for it! Here are some quick ways to give positive feedback without causing a scene,
- Invite the student to stand in front of the class, recognize them for their accomplishment and everyone in the class give a clap, or a snap, or some other form of nonverbal.
- Weekly recognize students for their accomplishments in morning meeting. This is a great setting to have the whole class their to listen and react. This may even motivate other students
- Or even a large scale recognition when multiple classes are pulled together and accomplishments are talked about in a grand way.
Many of these suggestions are simple and easy ways to push yourself as an educator to make greater impacts with positive recognition of your extroverted students. Give some or all of them a try! Be their biggest cheerleader; literally!
All positive feedback needs to be specific, and timely. We also need to remember it’s about quality and not quantity. Try incorporating some of these ideas with your introverted and extroverted students. Stretch what you know about yourself and others to help provide an environment of students that thrive for their learning styles.