The Power of Positive Feedback

Although I normally teach adult classes, I’ve been teaching a teen class over the last few months. The students come one day over the weekend and another day after school. It’s been an interesting and difficult experience for somebody who didn’t get teenagers even when I was one.

Last week, I decided to do a movie lesson using The Dead Poets Society. The overall English level in the class is quite high, so I knew they would be able to understand most of it. Before we started the movie, they had a few discussion questions about their past teachers- traditional? nontraditional? best? worst? why? When I asked about their best teacher, one student looked up at me and said “You, miss.” I was shocked.

This particular student belongs to a group in the class that isn’t exactly cooperative. However, the previous lesson this student did an amazing job during a listening activity. While others still looked unsure after a second listening, he was confident (and right) with his answers. Surprised, I turned to the rest of the class and said “A_____ is really great at listening! Did you guys know that?” Like a typical teenager, he got a little shy but he left that day with a big smile on his face.

Never underestimate the power of a little bit of positive feedback.

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