What effect does the introduction of Praise Postcards have on the confidence of a class of S2 pupils, and on the quality and quantity of the work they produce?
Positive praise is a vital component to teaching and learning. Conroy et al. state that ‘creating a positive and engaging classroom atmosphere is one of the most powerful tools teachers can use to encourage children’s learning and prevent problem behaviours from occurring.’
It is one which fosters a nurturing and inclusive learning environment for all pupils when used effectively. With the formal setting of classrooms taken away during online learning, the authentic real-time praise that is a natural aspect of school life is also taken away. The nature of online learning is largely independent for students, and an unfamiliar learning environment from which they have become accustomed to. This enquiry therefore sought to provide written and audible praise in a digital learning environment, which would mirror elements of in-person classroom practice.
This enquiry had two driving factors; the first was increasing pupil engagement in the digital classroom and the second, increasing pupil confidence within this digital setting. This was based on observations taken from pupils’ first six weeks of at-home online learning. The General Teaching Council for Scotland’s Standards for Registration was then taken into account, using 3.1.2: ‘use a range of communication methods, including a variety of media, to promote and develop positive relationships to motivate and sustain the interest and participation of all learners’. Sustaining positive relationships was particularly pertinent in times of online learning where the immediate and tangible link between pupil and teacher was removed. Also taken into consideration was the ethos of Equality and Inclusion 3.1 from How Good Is Our School? 4th Edition (HIGIOS); ‘we know and can demonstrate that all of our children and young people feel safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included.’
Dubois-Maahs states that:‘When students feel confident, the brain releases endorphins that trigger faster neurological connections. The increased cognition speed helps students think clearly and logically, which leads to improved problem-solving abilities. […] On the other hand, when students feel stress, their brains undergo neurological inhibition, placing mental blocks. This slows down their thought processes and is the root of anxiety and frustration.’
It was therefore a key priority to strive for confidence and comfort within the digital classroom to ensure pupils were still capable of achieving success and reaching their full potential.
To increase the quality and quantity of work completed and submitted in the digital classroom.
To increase pupil confidence with regards to online learning at home.