Part of your job as a teacher is to give your students the kind of feedback that will help them learn and grow. Of course, you want to do this in a way that encourages them to continue trying, and certainly not to hurt their feelings. As you probably already know, some students are more sensitive than others, so giving constructive criticism can be a tricky thing. Here are some ways to correct a student without hurting their feelings.
The most important thing you want to remember when giving out correction is to keep your words and attitude positive. You want the student to gain from your correction and learn form it. Being negative may only serve to bring down the student's self-esteem and give him a feeling of hopelessness. You might try saying, "Johnny, you made good effort here, but I think if you try …, it will work better next time." This way the child knows that you see the effort he made, and you are telling him that it can be even better than it already is.
Never ever embarrass a student in front of the class. When a student walks into your classroom, you are responsible for that child, and you want to build a trust in your students. If you pinpoint mistakes and make corrections in front of the entire class, especially with negative comments, you will be forcing a student to distrust you. Pull a child aside during lunch break or at the end of the day to discuss what he or she needs to correct.
It is important that you know your students and their personalities as best you can. The way in which you deliver correction will probably need to be different for different students. Some students are more sensitive than others. Students who really try to make an effort will take correction to heart, whereas students who are not that ambitious may rub off correction and not care so much how you deliver it. Either way, you need to know which students are more sensitive than others.
In order for correction to be effective, it has to be used for the right reasons. Correction is not a form of punishment. Punishment is discipline. Correction is pointing out a way to change what was wrong and make it better next time. Don't chastise a student for doing something incorrect. Instead, as mentioned above, make it a positive experience for the student; something she can apply the next time she tries a similar action or activity. Save punishment for disruptive students, but not merely for correction.
Correcting a student will work best when you can provide examples of the right thing to do. For instance, if you give an assignment on the benefits of good eating habits, and a student puts down French fries are healthy because they are made from potatoes just telling him that is wrong does no good. You have to explain that French fries are fried in grease, which makes them unhealthy. Give your students reasoning for your correction to help clarify what they did wrong. This will help give them the motivation they need to make changes in the future.
Keep in mind that correcting a student's work or behavior is not you correcting the student. It is important that your student understands you are correcting his work, not who he is. Let your student know that you still like him, and he is a good student, but that you see a way he can improve on his work in the future.