Sunday, May 20, 2012

Seven Things To Say Instead Of "Good Job!"

"Teacher Tom! Look!"

"Look, Teacher Tom! Look what I can do!"

"I didn't know you could flip your tummy up on the table and balance with your legs up in the air."

"Look what I figured out, Teacher Tom! I can pop the bubbles by tearing my finger through them. Watch."

"You did that. You figured out how to pop it by tearing your finger through it."

"Teacher Tom, I'm popping them by jumping!" 

"I heard it pop! And I heard it again! You're jumping high and coming down hard to make them pop."

"Did you see what I can do? I'm making shapes! Let me show you."

"You're using your finger to hold the plastic circle in place and drawing around it! It looks like you're really concentrating."

"I can do it with other shapes too."

"I have something I want to show you, Teacher Tom. When I pull out these plugs the cars don't race any more and when I plug them back in they work again."

"Hey, you broke the circuit when you unplugged it, and you closed the circuit again when you plugged them in"

"Teacher Tom, Teacher Tom, we made this house."

"Who said that?"

"We did! We're inside here."

"Now I see you. You made a house with a sheet and clothes pins. You must have worked together."

"We did."

"Look what I made."

"You cut out all those shapes with pinking shears and used a glue stick to stick it all together. That was a lot of work. It looks like the two shapes are looking in a mirror."

"A crazy mirror!"

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Unknown said...

Awesome and simple way to explain how we can respond to children other than simply shrugging them off with the overused "good job!". Thanks for sharing!

Seema Karecha said...

I don't have to look for inspiration anywhere else. Thank you.

Team J said...

I do a lot of "wow!" and "oh my good golly miss Molly.... Look at how you worked as a team!" Sometimes I drive myself crazy. ;)

Thanks for some new suggestions.

Milda said...

Amazing. So inspiring. Thanks a million!!!

MissDewi said...

I feel like saying "good job" is an empty response. When the child is telling you or showing you something they can do, they want you to be a part of it, not to get your approval.
I like how you say exactly what they are doing, that really shows you are paying attention.
Thank you, next time i hear someone saying "good job" to a child (or me) i will direct them to this blog post :)

Marsha SLP said...

As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I love to see
how you are providing the children with such wonderful language development skills while acknowledging their efforts! Good job, Teacher Tom!!!

Kris said...


It's more than just "good job" being empty. The good jobs, fantastics, well dones, beautifuls, excellent works, teach kids to strive for the compliment and can make NOT hearing that response devastating. Learning to hear descriptive comments means, "I'm valued for what I do, for my efforts, and someone sees me. I don't need to be excellent to be noticed or important."

Ms.Debbie said...

I couldn't have said it better... you have an amazing way with words! Giving children descriptive language in addition to valuing their efforts is the frosting on the cake!

Anonymous said...

I love this blog, and I've never commented before. Just wanted to say thanks for the tips and how I can be more creative with encouraging my nearly-2yo twin boys.

ALSO I want to say that we say 'good job' all the time, and it's not empty when we say it, we really mean it, and the boys know what we mean when we say it. We are very conscious parents, and we're trying our best, as the vast majority of parents are.

One of the loveliest moments we had with our boys recently was during a climbing escapade. One of our twins is more inclined to risk-take than his brother, even though his brother always wants in on the fun! Long story short, I hung back and watched as my 22 month old cheered his brother on when he finally had the courage to jump down off the boxx unassisted. The encourager cheered Hurray! gave his brother a hug and said, 'good job!'. I can assure you, he meant it, and it wasn't an empty throw away phrase for anyone watching that unfold!

Again - thanks for the tips, and we'll definitely be aware of it. But I'm not writing off "good job" just yet. :)

Aoife said...

As an aspiring teacher, your ideas are truly inspiring. Adults tend to fob off what children say without really listening whereas children's honesty and openness is the way we all should return to being and the world would be a much better place!

Unknown said...

Good job!;)

Seriously, that was cool.

Anonymous said...

I was a "good job" mom in my early years, then I read Punished by Rewards (Alfie Kohn) and Nurture Shock by (Po Bronson) and they stopped me cold in my "good job" tracks. Some reading to consider anonymous poster :)

Anonymous said...

Teacher Tom, I see you giving good examples, sharing your wisdom and helping others do better! You must love what you do and work very hard at it! I will remember this and try to use this technique too. Thanks!

Ana said...

You are my hero Teacher Tom.
I wish I could come and visit your school.

The Iowa Farmer's Wife said...

Thank you for sharing this! I really struggle with saying Good Job to everything my daughter does! Looks like the kids are having a Great time!

nita said...

I knew I was doing something right when I helped my twos pick up toys and one came to me and said "High five, Ms. Nita, you did it. You made the room look clean!" And I could hear my voice in his.....made my day.

Darin M. Bicknell said...

You illustrate something so simple yet so important in the Montessori philosophy and should be standard practice for parents and educators alike. What the child wants is acknowledgement of the discovery not praise or judgement. It reminds us as parents and educators of Montessori's words -"Any unnecessary help is a hindrance."

In your blog you so clearly show that in your environment you prepare it and that is from which the children learn. You are the observer and supporter of the child's spontaneous activity. Children can then follow their own inner direction to develop their own unique personality and talents.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this reminder of the power of observing carefully & sharing vocubulary with kids! Last week I heard myself slipping into "Good job," just out of brain-fuzziness-- This post helps me get back in the swing of what I know is WAY way better to say.

~Anne in Tumwater

Amanda Miss Panda said...

It is so nice to see how you describe what the children did, the efforts they made, and their achievement. You reinforce the learning process by giving such a compliment.

Miss Muggins said...

Good job is the new good boy/good girl!! Something said automatically, without addressing the actual action of the child. . Its good to challenge ones thinking and practices. Thanks.

Amanda Medlin said...

This is great! I constantly find myself saying "Good Job" and I know it loses it's meaning for both me and them the more I say it. I will definitely be working on these new phrases!

catelin said...

love this and thank you!

Unknown said...

It's always better to provide specific praise.

Unknown said...

You rock, Teacher Tom! Thanks!

Dczegers said...

Factual statements vs. value statements! This will help them to work for inner rewards rather than extrinsic wards!

Lilja said...

Really helpful examples, thank you! Although I try to talk with my child about what she does, instead of a generic or hollow praise, sometimes I'm at a loss of words. This gentle examples are a good starting point to remember.