Ways to Praise

When you attend to and acknowledge your child for their efforts and accomplishments, your child will feel good about him or herself because you are focusing on their strengths. Using praise improves relationships between adults and children and increases children’s self-esteem. There are effective ways to this, and based on the psychological effects of how praise is received by children, here are 3 tips on the best ways to praise your child:

1) Be specific

Praise works best when you specifically describe the thing for which your child is being acknowledged. For example, it’s better to say “Great job – you worked hard picking up the toys!”  than saying “Great job!”

It is best to praise children by focusing on the behavior rather than the person. For example, saying “I’m proud of you for tasting those carrots” puts the emphasis on the behavior (tasting a new food) whereas saying “you are a good girl for tasting those carrots” puts the emphasis on the child (being a good person). This may seem subtle, but we do not want children to think they are “good” or “bad” because of the behavior they display. We do want children to know what behaviors we expect from them and praising their positive actions accomplishes that. READ THE REMAINDER OF THIS POST ON THE PLEASE AND CARROTS BLOG

Suspension Is No Longer the Only Tool Educators Have to Address Discipline Problems

A student yells at a teacher, engages in an altercation with a peer or is continually late to class. For decades, under a zero-tolerance framework, the result has been the same: detention, suspension or even arrest.

This strict, exclusionary approach has fostered a school climate across the nation that has over-emphasized discipline, built barriers between students and teachers and disrupted learning.

Over the past five years, we have begun to see a shift in the paradigm with a mix of new approaches to school discipline. For example, those very same student actions are now increasingly followed by a “restorative circle,” where the students work together to repair the harms done and make things right for all involved.

Through this process, school leaders are able to not only agree on a more proactive, restorative response to discipline problems, but also empower students to build positive relationships, make smart decisions and hone their problem-solving skills.


Some schools are adopting restorative circles within a broader context of proactive approaches, like the school-wide positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS) framework, which establishes the climate that can help students achieve social, emotional and academic success. Restorative practices can work in concert with PBIS to promote a school climate defined by empathy, understanding and peaceful mediation.

That type of climate, according to a joint 2013 study from the National School Climate Center and Fordham University, can also pave the way for increased student motivation and achievement rates—as well as decreased dropout rates, substance use and incidences of violence. Instead of fading into the background or struggling to manage their emotions, youth constructively respond to conflicts and leverage a comprehensive support system.

Some school districts have embraced this new paradigm over the past eight years, phasing out zero-tolerance policies with these transformative and proactive approaches to school discipline. The results coming in from across the country over that time have been impressive. Read the remainder of this post on the Education Post blog.

Shaping Teacher Preparation for the Future

Congress took unprecedented action  [March 9, 2017] to sweep away significant regulations issued by the US Department of Education. The decision to overturn the rules guiding implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) garnered most of the headlines and overshadowed another significant retreat on accountability: the repeal of the Department’s teacher preparation regulations, which marked the sad end to the latest chapter in an effort to assess the quality and impact of teacher preparation programs. Just a few days later, the Administration released its budget blueprint, which calls for a massive $9 billion cut to the US Department of Education, including elimination of federal Title II Part A funding for teacher preparation and professional development, the $2.25 billion in grants that support states and districts to recruit, hire, train and support teachers.

Taken together, eliminating the teacher prep regulations and the devastating budget proposal not only signal a retreat from a meaningful federal role in accountability for teacher preparation, but now also an elimination of the funding needed for states and districts to do something meaningful themselves.

Predictably, some of the usual suspects in Washington marked the decision by Congress to overturn those regulations – rules that would have held those of us who lead teacher preparation programs accountable for the educators our programs produce – as a victory.

The Obama Administration’s teacher prep regs were not perfect but, as I’ve written before, the opposition to the entire effort represented a new low in the teacher wars. And the final version of the regs represented a great improvement over earlier efforts, creating an opportunity for us to build a system that could pave the way for teachers to have an increased impact on student learning.

But this cannot be the end of the story. We have a responsibility to continually improve the teaching profession and ensure that our educators are prepared for success in the classroom, particularly for the students that are in need of the best instruction. To achieve this goal, we need to know if our teacher preparation programs are effective – and if not, how to make them better. Our institutions need to be held accountable to ensure their graduates have the tools to make a difference in student learning. READ THE REMAINDER OF THIS POST ON THE HUFFINGTON POST BLOG.

More Effective Practicum Experiences

LOCAL MENTOR TEACHERS who coach our students during their practicum semester are now offered an opportunity for a new graduate course at Curry focused on increasing their effectiveness. Through the course they learn about instructional coaching best practices and then can apply new skills each week with practicum students in their classrooms.

“This approach allows mentor teachers to take the theory learned in class and put it into practice, refine their skills and then come back and reflect on their experiences in the next class,” said Curry field placement coordinator Adria Hoffman, who is also the course instructor.

The course provides training in the MyTeachingPartner coaching model adapted for preservice teachers but also covers adult learning theory and research on professional development.

“We are countering the perception of teaching as an innate ability or a calling and equipping our school partners with tools for providing individualized feedback to Curry students placed in their classrooms,” Hoffman said. “They can then help our teacher candidates refine their practices and positively impact student learning.”

The course is funded by a grant from the Virginia Department of Education specifically for Charlottesville City and Albemarle, Nelson and Fluvanna County teachers and is available to them at no cost. Participants are recommended by their school administrators and must complete an application to the Curry School for the course. This spring semester, only the second time the course has been offered, it is filled with 25 mentor teachers.

“Multiple teachers told us last spring that it was the best professional development they have ever had,” Hoffman said.

See also our series of great reflections by mentor teachers taking this course:

Ambitious Instruction: Teacher Preparation at Curry
Beverly Kerr

Teaching as Specialized Work
Gwendolyn Page

Excellence Every Day in Teacher Mentoring
Nikki Franklin (M.T. ’04 Elem Ed)

Excellence Every Day in Teacher Mentoring – Pt. 3 in a Series

“Excellence Every Day” is the motto for students and staff at the school where I have taught for the past 12 years. My third grade students and I reflect on this motto, and together we strive to put it into action each day.

Last spring I witnessed the ideals of ambitious instruction and “Excellence Every Day” working in tandem.  Ambitious instruction pushes educators toward the successful implementation of excellence within schools. I believe it is vitally important that I expand this ambitious motto as far as possible. The Curry School gave me the tools to work toward “Excellence Every Day” with 100% of my students. 

I have been a mentor teacher with the Curry School since 2009. As a lifelong learner I was interested in finding efficient ways to share my best practices with future teachers.  I needed new ways to convey the most crucial practices that novice teachers could duplicate and use to build a strong and skillful foundation in teaching. I also needed to acquire the language and vocabulary that would allow me to successfully transfer knowledge to novice teachers. (more…)