The Power of Encouragement

Words are extremely powerful! Do you truly understand the power that your words have in the lives of your learners? Using encouraging words can produce positive results, improve learners’ self-esteem and increase motivation and perseverance. Aren’t those the results that every teacher dreams of?
Watch this video and see encouragement in action:
As we see, the indiscriminate use of encouragement can be counter-productive. So, what is the right way to encourage our learners? Here are just three tips to help you become an effective encourager and positive influence in each learner’s life.

Be sincere and honest

Encouragement that is not consistent with the learner’s self-view may be perceived as insincere. They will probably discount this encouragement because it doesn’t match their behaviour. So rather be honest and specific about behaviour that merits encouragement.

  • Don’t say: Wow, you’re a genius for working that out (when the learner only got 1 out of 4 right)
  • Do say: You answered that first question really well

Encourage them for the effort, not their ability

Attribution Theory says that the causes people attribute to events affect how they think of and respond to future events. Learners who are constantly praised because of their ability do not handle failure very well. On the other hand, when they feel encouraged because of the effort they have expended in doing something, this inspires them to focus more on developing their skills. Effort they can control and improve.

  • Don’t say: You were very clever to solve this math problem
  • Do say: I can see that you really work hard and persevered to solve this problem

Avoid encouraging by comparison

This seems an obvious one, but we can so easily fall into this trap. This is not a positive form of encouragement and should be avoided. Learners who are encouraged by comparison quickly lose motivation when they fail and can demonstrate frustration, helplessness and negative emotion. These are hardly the result we desire. This type of “encouragement” actually teaches learners that winning is the goal and not learning.

  • Don’t say: Your essay is the best in the class
  • Do say: You have written an excellent essay

Let’s commit ourselves to build strength, hope and confidence into each of our learners.

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