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Bilingual Teaching Practices Beyond “Good Job”: The Power of Specific Feedback in Early Learning

Beyond “Good Job”: The Power of Specific Feedback in Early Learning

“The main message of their review still stands: across instructional settings assessment should be used to provide information to both the learner and the teacher […] about how to improve learning and teaching with feedback being the main vehicle to achieve it.”
Lipnevich and Panadero (2021) referring to the work of Black and Wiliam (1998) in the article A Review of Feedback Models and Theories: Descriptions Definitions and Conclusions.

Have you ever mindlessly said “good job” to a child? While it might seem positive, this generic praise lacks specificity and can be ineffective for learning.

Effective feedback is crucial in the learning process. What we say to children can empower them to move beyond their current understanding and achieve real progress. However, simply saying “good job” doesn’t provide children with the information they need to learn and grow.

Specificity is Key:

“Good job” doesn’t tell a child what they did well. A child is constantly engaged in various activities. Specificity clarifies which behavior or action deserves praise. For example, instead of “good job”, try phrasing it as:

Feedback early learning

  • “I see you’re using two hands to roll the playdough. That helps make it smooth!” (Highlights a specific skill)
  • “Thank you for sharing your playdough with your friends. Sharing is kind!” (Highlights social interaction)
  • “It’s great that you’re sitting calmly while you play. That makes it easier to focus!” (Highlights self-regulation)

Specific feedback helps children understand what behaviors are desirable and guides their future actions.

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Beyond Feel-Good Phrases:

Our goal isn’t simply to make children feel good with empty praise. We want them to learn and develop. Effective feedback helps children understand their strengths and areas for improvement.

Reflect and Refine:

Think about a recent interaction when you used “good job.” What specifically did the child do that deserved acknowledgement? How could you have rephrased your praise to be more specific?

This reflection can significantly improve your teaching practice.

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