How can we create better home-school links?
We all like a bit of praise and it is nice to share it far and wide. Bridging the gap between parents, pupils and schools is important.
There is something magical about arriving home and someone having fab news for you. Something you weren’t expecting to hear that can turn even the darkest day bright again. Who doesn’t love coming home to an unexpected handwritten envelope or card? Well, how about we do the same for the students? See how we can share the love!
What does the research say?
Mueller and Dweck (1998) conducted six separate studies looking into how different praise affects students. Students, aged 9 to 12 years old completed a problem-solving game. They were then told they’d got 80% of the questions right and were praised for either their natural intelligence or how hard they worked on the task. They found that by praising their effort and the strategies they used, we give students a template of behaviour to follow. Thus, praise that is clear about what the student has done to get the praise is more effective.
Hattie and Timperley (2007) note, “Praise usually contains little task-related information and is rarely converted into more engagement, commitment to learning goals, enhanced self-efficacy, or understanding about the task.” This, again, highlights the need for feedback and praise to be specific to the task and work that has been completed
5 ways to praise students
Below are some tips and ideas for how to celebrate specific achievements of your students with the people who really matter. The ones at home.
The classic praise postcard is always a lovely idea. It can be a bit of hard work but once you get into the swing of things it becomes easier. Grab some plain postcards or even ones that fit in with the theme of your subject and send them home. This could be once a week or once a half term for hardworking pupils. It’s a buzz for both parent and pupil to have something in writing that they can post up on the fridge for years to come.
2. Sticker alternatives
Students have always loved the classic sticker – custom stickers – but the issue can be that of memory. What did they get the sticker for? Can they remember? Instead, use Tyvek wristbands! This has hit Twitter by storm but are cheap to buy and can be personalised. They can go on the wrist or around the handle of a bag to share the praise.
There are many ways of sending praise and rewards home via technology. Get on ClassDojo and get parents involved too. This will allow messages to get home in real-time and keep parents informed.
Also, you could start a class blog to share the excellent work. Padlet is an easy way to share images and examples of work too. Just let the parents have a QR code link and they can keep up to date with excellent work.
4. Work selfies
Work selfies are also a fab way of getting the students to do the hard work. Make them decide which work is worth sending home to save you the job. If they feel the work is worth being sent home get them to add on a clip or sticker. You then just have to check it is up to scratch and send it home.
5. The Friday call
The classic email or phone call home. Easily forgotten for the use of praise but is easily one of the most effective ways of communicating. How about picking three students in the week to call home to praise on a Friday? It’s not only going to make their weekend (and their parents) but may also make yours too!
All these ideas allow for specific feedback with specific examples of the work that was done well and what made it praiseworthy. The idea being that this will encourage the children beyond the class room and for future years to come.