'Wallpapering' your classroom with praise and positive reinforcement is important. Being passionate about your teaching, motivated and energetic is certainly infectious but teachers who succeed with the hard to reach know that there is more to praise than simply saying lovely things.
In your next lesson make a mental note of how you are using praise and see if you can get a balance between the five definitions below.
Wallpaper praise - praise that makes the classroom feel good, 'Great, lovely, marvellous, splendid..'
Personal praise - praise that is aimed at the student's personality 'You are brilliant, you are intelligent, you are really doing well.'
Directed praise - praise that reinforces good choices in behaviour 'Well done for following the rule, thank you for respecting the 'one voice' routine.'
Reflective praise - praise that encourages positive self reflection 'You must feel good about the accuracy of this work'
Contextual praise - praise that places the achievement in a wider context 'That work is a GCSE grade C and you are in year 8, can I use it for the display?'
For students who have low self esteem and a negative view of their own potential it is reflective and contextual praise that attacks this most effectively. Take a few moments to include some reflective and contextual praise for your trickiest students when you are marking their work or giving personal feedback.