Why being positive can sometimes be counter-intuitive for teachers.

The advice to ‘catch them getting it right’ is hardly a novel idea. But I would argue that, like the smiley face and the sad face, it is not often put into practice with enough consistency and therefore with enough impact. In fact, I think in practice it often deteriorates into an exercise of stabbing the board with a marker on the negative side, unless teachers are very careful. 

This is not really very surprising. There is a temptation in the teaching profession to look for errors and omissions, to be alert for negatives. In the core business of teaching students Maths, or English, or French, or History, or PE, what we are doing is teaching students correct facts and techniques. If a student makes 2+2 make 5, we need to draw their attention to the incorrect conclusion; an incorrect spelling of ‘begining’ will become an ingrained habitual error unless at some point a teacher draws a student’s attention to the missing ‘n’; a student will almost certainly keep failing to add feminine endings to adjectives unless a teacher tells them to, and so forth. A failure to pick out errors and omissions is a failure to teach properly.

It stands to reason then, that that same teacher would scan a class looking for those behaviours which will negatively impact on the teaching and learning taking place in their lesson, for errors and omissions which they will then draw attention to.

The reverse is true of Strictly Positive Teaching. A Strictly Positive Teacher is eternally vigilant, looking for and commenting upon good behaviour and work, while dealing firmly, but silently, with poor behaviour or work.

it requires real will and resolve, but once mastered it makes a tremendous difference to the teaching and learning experiences in the classroom.

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