Are you an SLP that gets in a rut of saying “good job” or one that is constantly listening for the right answer so that you can put a + rather than a – down on your data sheet? I know that I am definitely guilty of this. I was inspired by a post I read regarding ways parents can praise their children that don’t have to do with achievement. This article definitely struck home with me.
As SLPs, we are data driven creatures that often forget to look at the achievements our students are making that are beyond the +/- or percentages. It warms my heart to see my students encouraging each other or performing acts of the kindness from the bottom of their hearts. These moments need to be celebrated just as much as meeting their IEP goals in my eyes. Our students deserve to have their spirits lifted and praised for the things they do. Don’t we want to praise our students for helping their speech partner, holding a door open for someone passing by, comforting a speech partner who lost at a game, or attempting to try a problem that is difficult for them? Life isn’t all about what can be achieved on a piece of paper or a data sheet. These accomplishments are often more meaningful than being able to say they were able to complete x skill ___% of the time.
I found that when I began to praise my students for their acts of kindness, courage, compassion, and integrity their began to trust me more. Their faces would light up when they realized that I was watching and caring about their actions.
Here are 5 things you can compliment your students on that may not have anything to do with their IEP goals:
1. Not just trying but never giving up. When they keep trying again and again.
2. When they have the courage to ask for help in a tough situation.
3. When they offer comfort to anyone– whether that be a speech friend who lost at a game, a friend who got hurt, etc.
4. When they show compassion and put others first
5. When they accept rejection with grace and dignity
We have to remember that sometimes we are the only people these students have in their corner. Sometimes all they need is one adult to show that they believe in them.