The best compliments for students from teachers are sincere, constructive, encouraging words that build self-esteem and tell students they are doing great work. 

Words matter. 

And so does effective compliments and recognition—it shows you noticed them.

Praise your students!

Teachers are silent heroes; students may not openly admit it, but meaningful praise from a teacher can enormously impact the child’s life.

Complimenting a student on what they are doing right is a powerful tool to build a child’s self-esteem, offer encouragement, and establish a sense of belonging; it inspires positive behavior and a desire to improve skills. 

A teacher only needs to see a student’s eyes light up once as a result of what they’ve said to make it classroom practice to give compliments to students. Whether it’s a Kindergarten classroom, elementary school students, middle school students, or high school, a positive teacher-student relationship inspires positive relationships and improved classroom behavior. 

The types of praise

There are three levels of praise. Each higher tier builds off the lower ones—so you can give personal praise and praise a desired behavior or action.

Level One: Basic Personal Praise

Personal praise strategies focus on skills and abilities that come easy to the student. However, this type of praise can have the opposite effect instead of positive reinforcement, especially in students who lack confidence. 

According to education researcher and developmental psychologist Carol Dweck, timing and the wrong kind of teacher praise can negatively impact the child. A research study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychological found, contrary to belief, praising a child’s ability (for example, intelligence, singing voice) versus effort has a short positive effect followed by multiple negative consequences that negatively impact children’s self-esteem. 

Level Two: Specific Effort-Based Praise

Specific effort-based praise is when the classroom teacher acknowledges the individual student or group of students’ effort or process than their natural abilities. Unlike basic personal praise, this type of praise emphasizes what students can control, like time spent on a project and working hard; natural ability they can’t control. 

Level Three: Praise The Behavior

Telling the student what they did correctly adds another level to student praise and is a wonderful way to motivate a student to do even better. Like praise for effort, behavior-specific praise acknowledges the student’s achievements and the effort they put in to accomplish the goal.

Students react positively to transferable compliments because they are honest and specific and show kids what they did well. Even challenging students listen to positive feedback, and teachers could notice improved student behavior and academic performance.   

Complimenting students reinforce what’s important in your classroom

Good teacher-child relationships cultivate classroom environments nurturing positive academic behaviors and child development. A great compliment will encourage effort and positive behaviors, and being respondents to honest compliments will teach students to follow your example.

How to deliver effective praise

Since the 1960s, research has shown the importance of effective verbal and nonverbal praise (body language and facial expression) in class. Effective praise strategies encourage positive academic achievement and social behavior in children. 

Be specific and clear about the expectations

Instead of giving a general compliment, the teacher is specific and clear, removing any guesswork from the equation. With clear and specific praise, students understand what the teacher expects of them, identify what they did well, and know what behavior to repeat. Clarity clearly states the classroom rules and what type of behavior in children the teacher expects. 

Praise progress and effort in following the process—not just outcomes

A star student may not struggle to complete an assignment, but they value praise for their progress and process as much as a struggling student. Difficult students with challenging behaviors aren’t immune either.

Only give meaningful praise when you think it’s due

Insincere praise is worse than no compliment at all. For praise to have value, it must be earned and real. If teachers compliment students too often, overpraising students can be insincere. Then, when a teacher praises a student for hard work and outstanding performance, the praise value has diminished. 

Never compare to other students or siblings

Avoid comparing one student to another; instead, measure their efforts and progress to their previous outcomes. A teacher may mean well, but other students could perceive the compliment as a comparison and that they aren’t good enough. 

Best Compliments For Students From Teachers

Appreciating Student’s Hard Work

  • A fantastic effort today; you’ve improved dramatically from the last assignment.
  • Awesome job! I admire your perseverance and hard work.
  • You always work hard, but today you exceeded yourself.
  • I appreciate your effort today; it makes teaching this class a joy.

Behavior Specific Praise

Behavior-specific praise supports student progress and tells them they are on the right track. In addition, it helps students understand that they are progressing and moving forward. 

  • You’ve put so much effort into this writing assignment. 
  • High five for learning how to solve the math problem.
  •  Nicely done! You put a lot of time and effort into this task.

Encouraging Student

  • You’ve figured it out! You have your brain in gear today. 
  • You’re on fire, learning fast. 
  • Good work! You are proving each day.
  • You’re learning fast; I can see you were attentive and fully engaged in the lesson.

Positive Praise Compliments

  • You have grown. I knew you could do that. 
  • Wow, you’ve grown these last couple of weeks. Your work has improved tremendously.
  • Amazing! Math is no longer an impossible challenge; look at your progress.

Compliments Showing Interest

  • That’s coming along nicely; you’ve been practicing!
  • You are catching on; now you have got it!
  • Looking good; you are on top of it. 

Complimenting Student’s Efforts

  • I love how hard you’re working; you have just about mastered it. 
  • You are in top gear today; your progress is excellent.
  • I love your hard work, going through all the examples independently.
  • I noticed you don’t talk during the lesson anymore. I appreciate your sincere effort. Great job!

Complimenting Younger Kids

  • Look at you go! I am proud of you. 
  • That’s amazing! I knew you could do it!
  • I’m proud of you; you did a great job.
  • That’s the correct answer. Well done!
  • Wow! You are capable of easily finishing this writing course.

Admiring Student’s Work

  • That’s the best writing assignment I’ve seen.
  • You are one of a kind, not a single mistake.
  • I couldn’t find a single mistake. Well done!

Approving Student Achievement:

  • You just made my day; I couldn’t have done it better.
  • Great job! That’s how I would have done it. 
  • That’s an excellent idea for your project.

Affirming Time Well Spent

  • You are fantastic; you are on your way.
  • You are creative; this is a remarkable project. You remind me of myself.
  • Wow! I couldn’t think of a better example than yours.

Acknowledging Innovativeness

  • You blew me away with your fantastic project idea.
  • The point you made in the class got me thinking. I’m impressed.
  • Great example. It made me think.

Appreciate Accountability

  • I like that you set this goal for yourself to improve your language skills.
  • I appreciate your great effort in being accountable and not taking shortcuts.
  • I am impressed with your work ethic, sticking with it, and not giving up.

Complimenting The Person

The general type of praise doesn’t have the long-lasting impact of descriptive praise. When complimenting the person, the teacher should be mindful that compliments are appropriate and not too personal.

Praise your students; don’t flatter them

Praise encourages a positive outcome, is given with self-confidence, fosters trust, and focuses on the child. On the other hand, flattery concerns the flatterer, can be insincere, and develop mistrust.

  • The world is better because you are in it.
  • Wow, you have an exceptionally positive outlook on life.
  • You are unique just the way you are; there is no other you.
  • You are an amazing person. I enjoy teaching you.
  • There is ordinary, then extraordinary, and then there is your talent.
  • If you were a box of crayons, you would have the most amazing colors no brand could duplicate.
  • Your parents raised you well; they must be very proud.

Teacher Praise Classroom Relationships

When complimenting personal relationships, educators focus on how children relate to peers in class or on the playground and teachers. Just as teacher appreciation quotes help lift the spirits of educators, effective student praise can positively impact social skills.

  • You are an asset to our classroom community.
  • You are a good friend. I noticed the kids enjoy your friendliness and want to be your friend.
  • Starting at a new school in the middle of the school year is daunting. Your support made a difference for the new student.
  • You always have your peers’ backs when they need it the most.
  • You are a great team player; any team would be lucky to have you.
  • I noticed how you treat your loved ones. Amazing!
  • Your friendliness and eagerness to support other children are a gift.

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