Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Encouragement does more...

This first quote stood out to me because I felt there was no other options in terms of assessments.  Yes we primarily “hunt for mistakes” when grading.  “When teachers see an upward of 100 students per day and are expected to assess the progress of each of them and then differentiate instruction… it is no wonder that standardized diagnostics become necessary” (page 67).  Doesn’t that happen with everything?  I felt my hands tied after reading this.  Yes, I do believe there must be an emphasis on “grading” and knowing what students can and can’t do (with the emphasis on can’t) because it helps a student learn from their mistakes and then learn to correct that mistake. 

I feel it is the nature of learning any new skill academic or interest-based.  Also, highlighting the strengths is just as necessary, but also depends on how and what is being measured.  A homework assignment is going to measure what the student knows, so it seems ordinary to know where their thinking needs improvement, just like any sport of student interest.  Sure, academic work looks different from extracurricular activities.  What if academic work was focused on positive outcomes and extracurricular activities would focus on the “needs improvement” skills.  Seems like there is not much a difference on how good measurement is achieved.   I think encouragement can help in any situation and is the key for succeeding in anything.


I think Maggie and Colby Steinburg would agree with the quote above.  They both found Lorena slipping away from academics and tried to find something positive to build skills.  This encourages her to become team player and to focus her energy on something attainable (college).  The connection from extracurricular activities and academics help become a “bridge” to success and skill building.  Their support is necessary for their success. 


  1. Ken, I agree with some of your points here - I also think that it is more helpful to a student for us to encourage them and point out their strengths, but I think that as an effective teacher it is up to us to take note of the things they can't do or need to improve on and figure out ways to incorporate that into our lessons, especially if there are certain things that multiple students are struggling with. It's true, too, the point that you make about a student being able to learn from his or her mistakes. If I am constantly encouraging my soccer players instead of "correcting" their mistakes or teaching them how to do something a different way, they won't learn what they need to improve upon. It's our job to find that healthy and helpful balance by focusing on both encouragement and improvement.

  2. As someone who has always preferred correction to encouragement, I struggled with this quote. I am sure some positive interactions with correction from coaches and teachers/mentors early on has led me to this outlook, but that is always the way I preferred to learn. Let me do something, and if I get it wrong, show me how, and I will try again. I think we can go overboard with encouragement and positive comments, I read an article today about the NE Patriots, and the players there remember as specifically as time and date, the instances Belichek gave them positive feedback. His system is about repetition and practicing "correctness" and their systems operate at the highest levels of scrutiny. I don't think we can claim high expectations without a significant dose of critical feedback, but that does not mean it needs to be done in a disparaging way. I think that is the art of it.