We know. It’s ingrained in us as educators. Higher is better. Go for the gold! We are an educational society based on 100% being the ultimate aim of achievement. But when it comes to school culture and positivity, 100% should NOT be the goal.
Now don’t get us wrong—Kickboard is ALL about positivity! Children (and adults for that matter!) need at least three positive to every one negative interaction in order to thrive. Classrooms and schools with at least a 3:1 praise-to-correction ratio, or 75% positivity, are environments where healthy relationships are nurtured, children and staff are more motivated, and academic achievement is higher.
Here are a few things to consider in finding just the right balance between positive and corrective interactions with students.
Students Learn from a Little Friction
When was the last time you learned one of those hard life lessons? Most likely it wasn’t the most pleasant of circumstances when it happened but it made you a better person because you experienced it. Correction shouldn’t be the first course of action a teacher takes nor should it be given in greater doses than positive reinforcement, but in small doses a child can benefit from a little bit of correction. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, renowned psychologist and positivity expert suggests “experiencing some negativity is a necessary part of the process of flourishing.” 1
Fredrickson also cautions us that one of the greatest dangers of being overly positive is that it can lead to “toxic insincerity”. Kids know when you’re being real with them and if you try to “turn on” the positive all the time, it can backfire and come across as less than authentic. School staff, with the best of intentions, sometimes come away from a motivational speaker, training, or a book study with renewed zeal for being positive. However, being overly positive is rarely genuine and insincere interactions can be corrosive to relationships over time.
Realistic Data Best Informs Us
Undoubtedly there has never been a perfectly behaved child or perfect classroom. It’s not realistic. You need the behaviors captured in Kickboard to reflect what’s truly happening in the classroom. This way, you get “clean” data that will best guide you.
An accurate picture of corrective behaviors is especially important for students with behavior challenges. Often, these students’ behaviors send us into emotional overdrive and it’s easy to slip into reacting based on those emotions. However, with accurate corrective data captured in Kickboard we can objectively study patterns and trends over time to better plan for behavior support and then monitor whether our interventions are working.
The Right Balance
Fredrickson offers us insight with a sailboat analogy to help us consider the right balance of praise to correction. The sail and boat, all parts above the water line represent positivity. Like positive interactions, these parts of the boat help us move forward and give us momentum. But the keel below the water line, representing negative interactions, also offer us something. Without the keel, the boat wouldn’t stay on course, just like a small amount of adversity keeps us grounded. But please take note of the size of the sail compared to the keel--positivity is the greater power in sailboats, in classrooms, and in life!
Negativity is Necessary:
Want to make the best use of positivity ratios in Kickboard? We recommend the following action steps:
- Check out the new analysis tools using Kickboard Answers.
- Study your students’ positivity ratios. Are they above 75%? Is there a wide range?
- Investigate your staff positivity ratios and see how you compare.
- Set a positivity goal for you and your students.
- Establish data systems at your school to collaborate on progress and monitor progress toward your positivity goal.
- Call us for help at 504-327-5351
Kickboard Answers defines a “healthy” positivity ratio as between 75%-90%. For an explanation of how the green smiley face is calculated, check out this article.
1 Fredrickson, Barbara. Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive. New York: Crown Publishers. 2009.