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Kids World

Topics of interest to teachers of English as a second or foreign language to young learners.

September 15, 2004

Never Letting Students Lose Face

kids3.jpg I am a strong believer in never letting a student lose face in class or in public. I think it is the teacher's responsibility to build an environment that enables a student to feel safe physically, mentally, socially and emotionally in the teacher's domain. If a student knows the teacher will not embarrass him or make him look bad in front of others, that student will give the teacher the most priceless gift of all, the gift of loyalty.

If a student knows the teacher will not embarrass him or make him look bad in front of others, that student will give the teacher the most priceless gift of all, the gift of loyalty.

I make it a rule to praise in public and criticize or correct in private.

It is important to acknowledge merit in the English classroom. Some ways of doing this in class are:

Give students compliments for doing well in the following areas: Penmanship, reading, pronunciation, homework, workbook completion, aural comprehension, assisting newcomers, tidying up the room, putting games away, erasing the blackboard, bringing things to the office, handing out class work (notebooks, homework, workbooks) to classmates, to name a few.

Compliments can be given to the child individually or can be made in public, in front of the other students, the school secretary, observers or parents. When I acknowledge a student's merit individually, I do it briefly and sincerely with a smile. "Great pronunciation," "good homework," "excellent writing," "nice job," "thank you for helping." We also give a student of the month award once a month to outstanding students.

When I praise a class in public, I do it with a flourish. Sometimes when I am impressed with a class's blackboard reading, I may ask the school secretary to come in and listen to the students read the words on the blackboard. The secretary is duly impressed and expresses her amazement. I stand there rather proud and acknowledge how great the students are. This is always a happy moment for all of us.

If and when a student exhibits behavior that needs attention or correction, the student can be spoken to outside of the classroom. I take students outside the classroom and talk to them in the hall when they do one of the following: forget their homework, speak Japanese, or treat another student rudely. If it concerns homework, I give the student the option of coming to school early or staying after class to complete their homework or giving me permission to call his mother to ask her for support. The student always prefers to solve the problem on his own without getting the mother involved. If this is agreeable with them ( which it always is), we go back to the classroom.

If the child speaks Japanese in the class or exhibits negative behavior, I explain why it is not acceptable in my classroom. If they cannot refrain from speaking Japanese or being rude, I give them the option of going to the lobby and watching an English video. They always say they would prefer to come back to the class after promising me not to speak Japanese or be unruly.

All of the above usually works because the students in their heart know I am treating them with respect and being fair. I have never publicly given students attention for negative behavior. At the same time, the student who has disappointed me has never lost face in front of his classmates. The student appreciates me for this and usually shows improvement in the area where he was lacking.

I think praising in public and criticizing in private is a win-win situation for all involved. I encourage you to try to incorporate this concept into your classroom according to your own specific situation and needs.

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